Aggressive-swinging E-town team eliminates Lititz from LNP Tourney

By on July 22, 2015
 Lititz VFW infielder Kyle Gibble puts a late tag on Elizabethtown base runner Devyn Clair stealing second base in the fourth inning last Thursday at Kunkle Field. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Lititz VFW infielder Kyle Gibble puts a late tag on Elizabethtown base runner Devyn Clair stealing second base in the fourth inning last Thursday at Kunkle Field. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Brendan Martin thought he made a quality pitch.
So did everyone else in the Lititz VFW’s dugout.
But Elizabethtown Navy’s Larry Locker got enough of it and hit a high fly ball which managed to clear the left-field fence in the sixth inning.
It was a back-breaker in an eventual 9-3 E-town victory over Lititz in an LNP Junior-Midget Tournament elimination game at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field last Thursday evening.
“Brendan looked right into the dugout, we all thought he made a great pitch,” Lititz skipper Eric Martin said. “It’s a Kunkle Field fly ball. I thought (left fielder Brock) Fassnacht was on it. He just ran out of room.”
Coupled with a wild 13-11 loss to the Mountville Angels on Wednesday night, in a game in which the VFW led 5-2 going to the sixth inning, Lititz ended its season with a 32-9-1 record.
“They worked hard. It’s hard to really explain to 14 year olds a loss,” Martin said, “and how they need to put the two games aside here. They made it to the post-season, and look at the big picture, breaking 35 overall wins this year, winning multiple tournaments, competing everywhere we went, winning the division. That’s a lot to be said about this group of kids and how they competed.”
They showed up ready to compete against Navy as well, as Brendan Martin worked a leadoff walk and Kyle Gibble singled to start the bottom of the first. Nick Breznak’s RBI fielder’s choice put the VFW up 1-0, but Lititz stranded runners at the corners.
Elizabethtown’s Hunter Murry pitched four innings for the win, striking out two, walking three and yielding two earned runs on four hits.
“I just wanted to get those two runs because I thought they were critical,” Martin acknowledged. “One run, at this field, you can easily overcome. So yeah, we didn’t get as many runs early in the game as I thought we would, and that, I think, gave E-town some momentum right there that they could play with us and score some runs on us.”
Still, the VFW was confident with Brendan Martin on the hill, who had defeated Navy twice earlier this season. The righty recorded four of his five K’s in the first two innings, but Elizabethtown tied the score in the top of the second on Cole Livingston’s (3-for-4) RBI base hit.
In the bottom of the frame, Max Bright singled with two outs and scored on Jeffrey Kline’s RBI double to put Lititz back in front 2-1. Bright and Breznak had two hits apiece to pace the offense.
It remained a one-run affair until Navy scored twice on four hits and a Lititz error in the top of the fourth inning. Livingston’s sac fly plated the equalizer and then Evan Schneider (2-for-4) scored the go-ahead run on a Lititz fielding miscue.
For the game, E-town belted out 15 hits off of Martin and John Seibert, and Luke Adams’ sac fly in the fifth drove in Cole Patrick (2-for-4), who singled, to put Navy up 4-2.
Martin’s RBI ground out in the bottom of the fifth got Lititz within a run, but that’s as close as they got.
Navy had the top of their lineup batting in the top of the sixth, and they got a leadoff single from Livingston and a one-out hit from Nick Kreider (3-for-4). The next batter, Locker, worked the count to 1-1 and then lofted his home run to left.
“We thought (E-town) was extremely dangerous,” Martin said. “They’re free swinging, they really are. I don’t know how many hits they had, it had to be about 15, and a lot of them I think were on the first pitch. So they’re an aggressive-swinging team. Yes, we needed a shutdown inning &tstr; we didn’t get it.”
A nice diving catch by center fielder Kline robbed Murry of a hit, but Patrick greeted reliever Seibert with a base hit to center and then Devyn Clair (3-for-3, 2 runs) hit a two-run homer to left-center, stretching Navy’s advantage to 9-3.
Lititz put two runners in scoring position with one out in the sixth inning, then loaded the bases in the seventh, but E-town reliever Kreider pitched out of both jams to nail down the victory.
“We’re so proud to make the Final Four because they’re four quality teams,” Martin said. “… Yeah, losing the last game of the year is tough. The (first) minute that we worked in January, the goal was to win the New Era. It is every year. We explained that goals are great, you have to have goals, but do you always attain your goals? Not always. It’s always something to strive for. OK, we came up a little short. But they were working hard all year to get there.”
Lititz was also working hard to finish the job against Mountville in Wednesday’s action.
The VFW went deep twice in the first inning &tstr; on Adam Ricketts’ (2-for-3, 2 runs) two-run shot and Caleb Heck’s three-run homer &tstr; en route to jumping out to a 5-0 lead on Angels’ starter Saylor, who yielded seven runs on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out seven.
Lefty Nick Breznak, meanwhile, tossed three perfect innings for Lititz and still led 5-2 when he reached his pitch count after 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight, walked two and scattered four hits.
But the Angels rallied for six in the top of the sixth and grabbed their first lead, 8-5. Breznak, who moved to right field, went 2-for-3 and Lititz answered with five in the bottom of the frame to reclaim a 10-8 advantage.
In a game in which the two teams combined for 24 runs and 21 hits, Mountville came back with five in the top of the seventh, highlighted by Alec Santiago’s long home run to right-center, and pulled back in front, 13-10.
Lititz got one back in the bottom, but it wasn’t enough, as Mountville reliever DJ Esbenshade shut the door on the Angels’ two-run victory.
“In the world of sports, they’re 14 years old, and we as a coaching staff knew coming in that was a draining game,” Martin said. “All the emotions, how long it was, the ups and downs all night long. It drained them. I thought we came out a little flat (against Elizabethtown Navy). Based on that, reflecting back, I think last night’s game was a definite factor in today. We prod and prod and push and they’re a never-give-up team, but we just didn’t have it (against E-town).”


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