Oddfellows optimistic for second half

By on July 6, 2011

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

If the season ended today, the Lititz Oddfellows would be a playoff spectator.

With a 2-4-2 record through the first half of the Lancaster County Midget Baseball season, the Oddfellows were tied for 10th in the standings with six points.

But 13th-year skipper Frank Camera remains optimistic about his team’s chances of grabbing one of the top eight spots. They returned from the Fourth of July break last night at Pequea Valley and they are back on their home field this Friday against Strasburg/Willow Street.

"I think our outlook is good still," he said. "We’ve played three of the top tier teams (Ephrata, Hempfield and Solanco) and all three were decent games. We’ve got a quality team … and we have a favorable schedule left."

One of those top-tier teams, Solanco (7-2), was in Lititz last Wednesday, and they used a seven-run third inning to open up a 9-1 lead, then held off the Oddfellows’ comeback attempt to win 10-6.

The game looked like a pitchers duel in the early innings, with Solanco holding just a 2-1 edge after two innings, but the offensive fireworks started shortly thereafter. Both teams collected 13 hits and the Oddfellows stranded 10 runners on base over the final five innings off of Solanco pitchers Matt Murray and Zach Leonard.

"It was a game where both teams hit a ton," Camera said. "The way (Lititz pitcher) Zach (Hurst) was throwing and Murray was throwing, you thought it was going to be a low-scoring game. But both teams made adjustments starting in the third inning."

Murray’s RBI ground out in the first inning drove in Johnson, who had an infield single and stole second base, and then Leonard delivered an RBI double in the second to put Solanco in the driver’s seat 2-0.

But Lititz answered in the bottom of the second. Brady Weiler led off with a base hit, Ian Hart slapped an opposite field single, and both runners executed a double steal. Seth Earle then stroked an opposite field RBI single to cut the Oddfellows’ deficit to 2-1.

Hurst, who pitched 2 1/3 innings, coaxed a leadoff ground out, but then Solanco put together nine straight hits to break it open.

"It was nothing that was scorched … they just hit balls that found the holes," Camera said.

Robert Gerofsky eventually entered the game in relief and gave up a base hit, but then got back-to-back ground outs to end the frame.

Trailing 9-1, the Oddfellows began to chip away in the bottom of the third. Alec Rhoads led off with a single to center, Caleb Metzer singled up the middle, then Hurst and Gerofsky delivered back-to-back RBI base hits to right-center to cut Solanco’s lead to 9-3.

Next, Chris Wentzel ripped a ball toward the gap, but Solanco’s outfielder robbed him of extra bases to preserve the six-run lead.

"It was a phenomenal play — one of the best I’ve seen at the high school baseball level," Camera remarked. "Two inches higher and the ball would have been over his glove. It would have gone into the gap and rolled all the way to the fence."

Weiler followed with a single to load the bases, but Murray escaped further trouble by getting back-to-back K’s.

Solanco scored their final run in the top of the fourth inning as Murray was hit by a pitch and Rutledge stroked an RBI single.

From there, however, Gerofsky ended the game by retiring the final 11 batters he faced to help give Lititz a chance. He finished with three K’s while allowing just two hits in 4 2/3 innings of relief.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, they clawed a little closer. Garrett High singled to center, Rhoads was hit by a pitch with one out, Metzler singled up the middle for an RBI, and Hurst added an RBI ground out to make it 10-5.

Despite Lititz’s scoring opportunities over the next two innings, Lititz was still staring at a five-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh. There, Wentzel connected for a two-out double and Weiler had an RBI single to left, slicing Solanco’s lead to 10-6, but that’s as close as the Oddfellows got.

"It was definitely an offensive-type game after it looked like a pitchers duel at the beginning of the game," Camera said. More ODDFELLOWS, page B-3