Manheim VFW falls short in bid to repeat

By on July 3, 2018
Manheim VFW third baseman Clint Groff (left) prepares to tag out a Manheim Township base runner in a rundown during last Friday’s championship game at Snyder Park. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Manheim VFW third baseman Clint Groff (left) prepares to tag out a Manheim Township base runner in a rundown during last Friday’s championship game at Snyder Park. Photo by Missi Mortimer

For the third time in five days, the top two seeds battled it out on the diamond at Snyder Park in Clay Township last Friday to decide the Lancaster County Youth Baseball’s 10-&-Under Section One championship.

When the dust settled, and there was plenty of that (dust) in the 91 degrees at the start of the final game, Manheim Township outlasted the Manheim VFW 15-14 to capture the title.

The No. 1-seeded Streaks (20-4 overall, 15-1 regular season) topped 2nd-seeded Manheim (24-7 overall, 13-3 regular season) 8-6 in the winners’ bracket final last Monday, June 25 after being down 5-1.

Manheim earned a rematch with the Streaks in the championship by defeating the 5th-seeded Penn Manor Comets 14-13 last Tuesday, June 26. Then in the double-elimination finals, Manheim forced a winner-take-all duel by defeating Manheim Twp., 15-8, rallying from a 7-0 deficit.

To further show that no lead was safe, there were five lead changes in Friday’s showdown.

The series — in the three most important games of the playoffs — proved to VFW coach Rob Kyle that these were indeed the two top squads in the league.

“Absolutely, by far,” he said.

Kyle also acknowledged that the second championship game had its share of miscues, as his team committed eight of the 12 errors between the two clubs.

“That’s the nature of the beast with this tournament,” Manheim’s coach said. “Take the good with the bad, I guess.”

The VFW broke on top in the first frame when their first two hitters, Cody Hess and Carter Kyle reached and moved into scoring position. Making contact, Chase Book (four RBI’s) and Clint Groff hit balls to shortstop that resulted in outs, but also produced runs for a 2-0 lead.

The see-saw swung in Township’s direction in the bottom of the first inning, when the Streaks plated four runs on two RBI groundouts, an error and third baseman Ben Faranda’s two-out double to right, giving the Blue Streaks a 4-2 lead after one.

The lead was short-lived as Manheim came back to cross the dish six times in the top of the second. Cody Hess doubled, then Groff and first baseman Jacob Hess followed with base hits. Three walks also contributed to the offense.

The Streaks tied things up in their half of the second, then scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take an 11-8 lead. Township’s rally marked the third lead change in the game.

It looked like the pitchers were reestablishing control in the fourth inning as neither team scored a run off relief pitchers Faranda and Jacob Hess. But the VFW came back with four runs in the top of the fifth for a 12-11 lead. Book’s two-run single to right field was the key hit of the inning after Manheim Township issued three walks.

The fifth lead change happened in the bottom of the fifth, when Township scored four times despite not getting a hit. Two errors, a walk and a hit batsman kept the Streaks’ inning alive.

Down to their last at-bat, the VFW got a single by starting pitcher Asher Martin and a double by second baseman Sam Murray to creep within 15-14. But that’s how it ended, one run short of their goal of repeating as league champs.

“I’m absolutely pleased with their attitudes and their efforts,” coach Kyle said. “They got better each day, each week. Hopefully they stick with baseball and get a good experience from it.”

Manheim faces a rebuilding task next season as only two players return from this year’s squad. Both teams and their coaches were rewarded with individual trophies after the game for their championship and runner-up finishes.

***

In the first championship game last Thursday, things were looking bleak for Manheim after two innings, trailing 7-0 with only one hit.

But things turned around quickly as they sent 15 batters to the plate in the top of the third, scoring nine runs to take the lead.

“We’ve been in that situation before, on this same field,” coach Kyle said. “And we’ve come back. We just started hitting the ball.”

Book had three of his five RBI’s in the inning with two hits to key the breakout. Right hander Colin Connelly held the Streaks to one run over the next three innings. Then when the VFW added five runs in the sixth, the game was out of reach at 15-8, setting up the final contest.

All nine hitters contributed to the VFW wins with either hits, runs scored or RBI’s. Cody Hess was on base all five times with three hits and four runs scored from the leadoff spot. Kyle had three runs scored and two RBI’s from the two-hole. Book had three hits and a run scored in addition to his five RBI’s as the top three in the lineup led the way.

Connelly and Jacob Hess each had two hits while Tanner Travitz and Murray scored twice to round out the attack.

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