Still unbeaten Odd Fellows claim sole possession of first place
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
There is only one undefeated team remaining atop the Lancaster County Midget Baseball School League standings.
The Lititz Odd Fellows.
However, nothing came easy for Lititz in its past three games, pulling out one-run wins over Comet Blue and Hempfield, in addition to rallying for five two-out runs in their final at-bat in a thrilling 6-5 win over Donegal last Wednesday, June 12.
Bears Blue, who the Odd Fellows played last night (Wednesday), is among those in a four-way tie for second with 4-2 records, including Solanco Gray, SWS and Hempfield Black.
Although Lititz’s offense hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, the Odd Fellows (6-0) scored enough to support the pitching of Cole Adams, Matt Cover and Luke Hackman in a 2-1 win over Comet Blue on Monday.
Comet Blue reached Adams for five hits in four innings, including four in the first, but they could only capitalize for a 1-0 lead on Colin Groff’s RBI single to right-center. With one out, Adams got a lift from his defense with a key bases-loaded double play off the bat of six-hole hitter Jacob Herr to get out of the jam.
"They had (Cole) against the ropes there in the first," Lititz skipper Bill Weismandel said. "But he only gave up one run."
That lead for Comet Blue, though, didn’t last long. Lititz mustered just two hits in the game, but one of those was a leadoff triple by Luke Hackman in the bottom of the inning, and Luke Mariano’s RBI ground out tied it.
From there, Adams hit a batter, who was then erased on a double play, and gave up just one more hit over the next three innings. He finished with one K and one walk while picking up the win.
"(Cole) didn’t have too much hard work after the first," Weismandel said.
His teammates made him the pitcher of record by scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth. Hackman led off with a walk, then stole second and was erased at third following a nice play from the shortstop in hole on Mariano’s grounder.
But Mariano advanced on a stolen base and Chase Gilbert’s ground out, then scored on Grant Zimmerman’s RBI single to left field.
Relievers Cover and Hackman finished the game with three scoreless innings, although it got a little bit interesting in the top of the seventh as Comet Blue worked two walks off of Hackman. But the lefty reliever, who invokes memories of a certain ’93 Phillies pitcher, got out of it by striking out the side.
"He’s our Mitch Williams," Weismandel quipped. "He is your prototypical lefty hard-throwing closer. However, guys have to understand that he’s going to walk a few. But he’s a strikeout pitcher too."
Thomas Elliot recorded six K’s in a masterpiece last Friday night in the Odd Fellows’ 2-1 win in Landisville. He allowed just three hits and one walk against a tough-hitting Hempfield squad to give them their second loss of the season.
"Thomas was outstanding," Weismandel said. "Hempfield is solid and he had them so off-balance. He gave up only three hits to a very good lineup."
The Odd Fellows gave him all the runs he needed with two in the top of the first on RBI singles by Drew Keller and Cover. Hempfield halved its lead in the bottom of the inning, but that’s all they could manage off of Elliot and Hackman, who closed it while allowing one hit and one walk, with one K.
Through its first six games, Lititz’s pitchers have allowed just nine runs. Of course, five of those came in one game against Donegal.
"The pitching has been great," Weismandel said. "Pitching and defense are really what’s carrying us here in the beginning."
Last Wednesday, Donegal was able to take advantage of some command struggles by starting pitcher Gilbert, who walked six and hit a batter in 3!-E innings. Donegal scored two in the first and two in the fourth, but Gilbert prevented further damage by striking out six.
"Effectively wild, I guess," Weismandel said.
They added one more in the top of the seventh off of reliever Adams, who scattered four hits while striking out three while picking up the win in relief.
Trailing 5-0 going into its final at-bats, Lititz was down, but not out. Michael Perezous’ single was the Odd Fellows’ only hit up to that point, but then Gilbert worked a one-out walk and scored on Grant Zimmerman’s RBI double. Keller’s infield single then put runners at the corners, Evan Havemann followed with a two-out RBI double to left-center, and Tyler Martin walked to load the bases.
Donegal then appeared to be out of trouble as Adams hit a ground ball to shortstop, but the second baseman dropped a throw to the bag to extend Lititz’s rally.
"They made the one mistake and sometimes, I guess, when you have to have a big come-from-behind win, you need the other team to make a mistake," Weismandel said. "We worked hard and put a bunch of good at-bats together, but that one ball that would have ended the game that was dropped by the second baseman was just enough to open the door for us to get through."
Indeed, the Odd Fellows made that mistake hurt. Cover’s hump-back line drive fell in right field for a two-run single and Tyler Shirk came off the bench to deliver a walk-off RBI single to left to drive in Adams with the winning run.
"I was talking to (son) Tate about it afterward and I’ve been coaching the core of this group for six, seven years and we may have had one or two walk-offs," Weismandel said. "But we’ve never had a comeback like this. Down five in the seventh and to win, they were pretty excited. I felt really good for Tyler Shirk. He was on the bench for two hours and that was his first at-bat of the game. So that was pretty neat."
More ODD FELLOWS, page B-3