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Manheim ousted from playoffs
“It was tough, looking at crying eyes after the game. They didn’t give up, which is a great learning experience.”
Those were the words of coach Chad Harbach, whose Manheim VFW 9 and 10-year-olds were eliminated from the Lancaster County Youth Baseball 10U Section One playoffs on Tuesday night at Maneta Park in Denver.
The final score was Solanco 13, Manheim 12 and the outcome was in doubt until the very last pitch. As Harbach noted, the momentum pendulum swung back and forth for the entire six innings.
“It’s amazing in this age group what momentum does to a game,” he said. “Usually, there is one big inning in each game.”
Solanco struck first and grabbed that momentum by the throat when first baseman Jake Frampton cracked a grand slam well over the head of VFW left fielder Jared Murray to give the Mules a 5-0 lead before Manheim even came to the plate.
The home team did come right back in their half, scoring three times. The key hits were a triple by Connor Rohrer and a two run double by Murray.
Solanco extended the lead to 7-3, scoring single runs in the second and third off starter Hunter Gruel. Murray, a lefty, came in to pitch with two outs in that third inning.
Bounce-back number two in the bottom of the third started when shortstop Judd Novak, the lead-off hitter, tripled. An error by Solanco, a single by Brady Harbach and consecutive singles by Murray and centerfielder Logan Hostetter made it 7-6 and the see-saw had begun.
The Mules extended the lead to 9-6 in the fourth, when ninth hitter Logan Pittman singled and tenth man Braden Burger walked. Braden’s cousin, Tyler Burger then singled, driving in the two runs. Murray struck out the three and four hitters to end the threat.
Manheim put up a big crooked number in their half of the fourth, scoring six times to take a 12-9 lead. The VFW cracked five consecutive hits with the RBI’s coming from Connor Rohrer and Harbach. Believe it or not, neither team scored in the fifth.
This set up the decisive sixth inning, and did Solanco take advantage. They set the tone verbally by yelling in unison like they hadn’t for the entire game. It didn’t help the Manheim cause when the first three Mules batters walked. Murray was right around the plate, just missing on several pitches, and the faithful let their voices be heard to the umpire, believing that he was squeezing the strike zone.
The tension of the moment didn’t help either. A single by shortstop Avery Jacobsen plated two and third baseman Jarrett Welk drove in another run. The final and decisive run was scored when Welk was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double while Jacobsen scampered home with the winning run. The throw to the plate arrived at the same time, but too high to make the tag.
Desperately trying to scratch out a win, the VFW battled valiantly in the final half inning, including singles by Gruel and Murray, but couldn’t push the tying run across.
Manheim finished the season at 10-9 and have seven players returning next year. Only three on the current roster played on this very young team last year.
Coach Harbach talked about where he saw improvement throughout the year.
“The difference was confidence,” he said. “I saw it in the field, when they hit and when they threw the ball. The three returning players were leaders, but other, younger players stepped into leadership roles as well. The tears showed how much they cared and they did not want the season to end. They wanted to play tomorrow.”
Manheim opened the double elimination tourney last Friday, losing to Ephrata 15-3.