Manheim VFW takes 10U crown

By on July 8, 2015

 

Manheim’s Brady Harbach pitched in relief of starter Jared Murray and shut down the Ephrata Merlins to help the VFW win the 10U league playoff finals. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Manheim’s Brady Harbach pitched in relief of starter Jared Murray and shut down the Ephrata Merlins to help the VFW win the 10U league playoff finals. (Photo by Stan Hall)

The Manheim VFW remained unbeaten last Wednesday, July 1 in league tournament play at Manetas Field in Denver to capture the 10U Section One Title in a battle of the regular season’s top two teams.

Manheim (23-5) broke open a close game with Ephrata (26-5) by scoring six times in the top of the fourth for an 8-3 lead on its way to the 12-3 title-clinching victory. The VFW players huddled at first base for one final cheer before receiving the individual trophies as Queen’s “We are the Champions” played over the loudspeaker.

“Our strategy was to start our best two pitchers and have the next two ready,” Manheim head coach Eric McGallicher said. “Early in the tournament, we scored enough runs that we could pull them early and save them for the next game.”

That plan kept Manheim in the driver’s seat throughout.

Last Wednesday, they broke on top early, plating two runs in the top of the first inning. The first came on a double steal when VFW shortstop and leadoff hitter Kye Watson dashed home from third base on a throw to second. Catcher Landon McGallicher scored from second with two outs on a Brady Harbach single.

The Merlins closed to 2-1 in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of three walks and a hit batter to get on the scoreboard. Ephrata then took the lead one inning later on back-to-back hits by catcher Coy Schwanger and shortstop Brody Martin in front of two additional walks and an RBI single by left fielder Trent Wolf.

At that point, Harbach relieved starter Jared Murray with no outs and the bases loaded, putting out the fire with no further damage, perhaps the turning point of the game.

“The momentum can change so quickly in a U10 game,” Ephrata coach Brad Crills said. “The difference was in the third inning, when we took the lead, but left the bases loaded.”

The 3-2 Merlins’ lead disappeared quickly in the top of the fourth as Manheim turned five hits and two walks into six runs. Left fielder Logan McGallicher led the hit parade, going 4-for-4 with three RBI’s, while Watson had three hits and scored three runs. Eight different VFW players collected hits and seven drove home runs in a total team effort.

“We were successful because we were able to work the pitch count to get pitches in our zone,” McGallicher said.

Murray and Harbach scattered six Ephrata hits, two each by Schwanger, Martin and Wolf.

Both coaches liked the change in pitching limitations which was instituted this year. No pitcher can throw more than three innings in any one game. And 25 or more pitches in a single game mandates a rest period, depending on the number of pitches.

“I would change absolutely nothing,” Crills said.

“I like the way it is,” McGallicher added. “It doesn’t allow one dominant pitcher to control the outcome. It also keeps younger arms from getting hurt while they develop.”

The two clubs have now faced each other five times this season and could meet again this weekend in the “Battle for the Bear Cup” at Elizabethtown on Saturday and Sunday.

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