A defensive sentinel at third base all night, Bears Blue’s Santino Buonamici had been a particular thorn in Michael Perezous’ side.Buonamici picked Perezous in the third-inning, snaring a line drive off his shoe tops.Then he turned Perezous’ sharp, one-out grounder into an around-the-horn double play in the sixth.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth, the Lititz Oddfellows’ left fielder ripped a ball Buonamici couldn’t stop, just inside the third base bag, scoring Matt Cover from second base with the winning run in a 2-1 victory.
It was a victory that propelled Lititz (16-4-1) into the championship game of the 68th Lancaster Newspapers LNP Midget tournament.
The Oddfellows will meet Hempfield Black for the title tonight at Clipper Magazine Stadium, with the first pitch set for 7 p.m.
Backed by Derek Manning’s five-hitter — and 2 for 3, 3-RBI night at the plate — Black (15-2) shutout SWS 9-0 in Wednesday’s first game at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Perezous’ game-winner ended an entertaining pitcher’s duel between the Bears’ Tyler Rosepink and the Oddfellows’ Thomas Elliot.
For the longest time it appeared Elliot would be the hard-luck loser of a four-hitter as Blue (10-7) protected its lone tally, produced by Sam Epps’ first-inning RBI double.
Tyler Rosepink carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning, abetted by Buonamici who, in addition to denying Perezous, made three outstanding stops in a row over the first and second innings.
Also helping out was catcher Brady Lefever, who threw out Elliot and Cover on respective steal attempts in the third and fifth innings.
It was the base stealer Lefever didn’t get that opened the door for the ‘Fellows.
Luke Hackman singled to center with one out in the seventh and, with a 1-1 count on Tyler Martin, lit for second.
Lefever’s throw was in plenty of time. Second baseman Nick Sweigart, who made a highlight-reel tag to nab Cover, was there in plenty of time.
Still, Hackman was ruled safe.
“I thought he was out by a mile,” said Grant Zimmerman, waiting in the on deck circle.
Martin struck out looking, but Zimmerman drilled an RBI double to the gap in left center, sending the game to extra innings.
“I was just looking to get my perfect fastball,” he said. “It felt perfect, absolutely perfect.”It was the second straight night of bonus baseball for the Bears, who went down in order in the top of the eighth.Cover led off the Lititz eighth with an infield single to short — Ryan Caley just missing a shoestring catch — and was sacrificed to second by Chase Martin.Luke Mariano fouled out to Lefever, delivering the moment to Perezous.
“I knew he was going to come right at me with (a) fastball,” Perezous said. “He’s got to get ahead of me in that situation.
“(Buonamici) was having a heck of a game. I got it right by him, finally.”
In the opener, Manning smoked a two-run triple into the right field corner of the Clipp, part of a three-run third for Black. An inning greased by a pair of SWS errors.
Hempfield added two in the fourth on an error and Tim Gailor’s sac fly and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth.
They collected three of their six hits in the sixth inning, wrapping the evening with Manning’s RBI single and a two-run single by Jon Beck.
“Both aspects of the game were breakout performances for me,” Manning said. “I’ve been in a (hitting) slump for most of the year.
“I felt real comfortable after the first few innings and I got my groove,” the Knights’ rising junior said, turning to his mound effort.
SWS (11-5-1) had baserunners in every inning, but all too often runners would reach after two outs had been recorded.
“It just wasn’t there tonight,” offered SWS coach Steve Shank. “You can’t win if you don’t score runs.(Manning) was really effective.”
“He hit his spots well,” Hempfield coach Jeremy Morrison said, appreciating Manning’s evening. “He mixed his pitches and pitched with confidence.”