New Era Correspondent
How hot was it at the New Era Tournament Midget quarterfinals on Saturday?
It was so hot, people in the shade got sunburn.
It was so hot, even the 10-run mercy rule, which was enforced in two of the three games, brought no relief.
Popsicles and bottled water put up big numbers Saturday at Manheim’s parched Baron Complex.
As did Mount Joy Blue, Hempfield Black and Pioneer Blue.
When you’re hot, you’re hot. And those three teams sizzled into the semifinals.
Mount Joy Blue baked Bowmansville with a 5-run first inning, a 5-run third and a 6-run fourth on the way to a 19-5 victory in the first game of a triple-header that consumed 8 1/2 hours.
The Lampeter Pioneers poached Manheim Twp. Northeast Rotary 16-4 in the second game, jumping to a 6-0 first-inning lead and pouring on seven runs in the seventh as an exclamation point.
In the finale, Hempfield Black broiled Solanco Gold 12-2, scoring four in the first and five in the fourth to take command.
The three victors return to Manheim this Saturday, joined by Pequea Valley – idle with a quarterfinal bye – for some semifinal fun-in-the-sun.
Mount Joy Blue and Pequea Valley will commence the festivities at 10 a.m., followed by a match pitting the Pioneers against Hempfield Black.
Black (18-8-1) had the most surgically precise game of the day as Brian Harnick – despite seven walks – tamed Solanco on two hits.
While Harnick was spinning a web over Gold (14-5-1), his batterymate, Josh Jones, was having himself a big day.
Jones, a major cog in J-M Black’s New Era title last year, showed that after 20-some high school JV games, and 26 midget affairs, he’s navigated the jump from junior midgets.
“I guess at first it does seem different,” he said. “You have longer base (lines), bigger fields.
“Everything seems a little bigger. Bigger kids, stronger kids, but as the year goes on it doesn’t take long. You get right in with the groove.”
Jones grooved on a 3-for-5 from his leadoff position, scoring three runs, and nearly hit for the cycle. He doubled in the first inning, singled in the fourth and tripled in the fifth.
When he came to bat in the sixth with the bases loaded, visions of the cycle with a slam never entered his head.
“I wasn’t thinking cycle. I knew we needed one more run to end the game and… I don’t want to sound like I didn’t want to play baseball but… It’s a hot day out here and it was rough.”
Instead of swinging for the downs, Jones put the ball in play, pulling a grounder to short with Solanco’s infield and outfield up to cut off the run.
Justin Taylor’s throw was way wide and way late to get Dave Cornwall, who crossed the plate with the deciding tally.
Cornwall, the leftfielder, was one of four Black batting heroes besides Jones, going 2-for-2 with 2 runs scored. Third baseman Jon Getz singled twice, drove in three runs and scored two.
First baseman Sam Minder also went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored while shortstop Craig Denlinger walked, singled and scored twice.
While Jones missed his cycle, John Burns was not to be denied for Mount Joy Blue (22-7).
Burns, Blue’s No. 2 hitter in the order, grounded out his first time up, but then caught fire for the cycle. Burns doubled, beat out an infield single, smashed a two-run homer and, in his last at-bat, smacked an opposite-field triple.
In all, he accounted for one-third of Blue’s output, scoring four runs and driving in two more.
He was not alone. Justin Bish scored four runs also, and drove in two with a triple. Matt Allison hit an RBI double and scored three. Chadd Ward was 2-for-3 with a two-run single and Shawn Beamenderfer came off the bench to go 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs.
No game featuring a team from Mount Joy would be complete without a suicide squeeze bunt, and Jere Hess delivered in the third inning, scoring winning pitcher Justin Reese.
Beamenderfer entered the game in the second inning in the aftermath of a horrific collision that sidelined Blue catcher Jon Felix.
Scrambling to tag out James Petersheim, who was trying to score from second on a wild pitch, Felix dived at the sliding runner, got him before he crossed the plate, then showed homeplate umpire Rick Herr he still had the ball.
He also had three spike wounds on his head – under his eye, across his temple and in his ear – that required 25 stitches to close, 18 in his ear alone.
That wasn’t the only action in the Bowmansville second, as Jordan Horst broke his team into the scoring column with a serious poke over the fence in center field.
But it was 7-1 at that point, soon to be 12-1 and even a 4-run fourth for Bowmansville (12-8), highlighted by Ryan Witwer’s 3-run double, could not forestall the inevitable conclusion.
Timely hitting by the Pioneers – and a lack thereof by Township (11-11) – made the result of their game inevitable, too.
The Pioneers (23-6) jumped on Township starter Pat Downey from the opening bell as Tony Baker’s 3-run triple highlighted a 6-run first.
Downey settled down after that, allowing three runs on seven hits over the middle five innings of the game. But after throwing 158 pitches in six-plus innings, Downey was gassed at the end and the Pioneers tagged him for seven more runs before it was over.
Baker had a hand in that eruption, too, driving in two with a single. For the game, Adam Devlin scored three runs and Rob Duvall was 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs.
Duvall got the start on the hill and threw three scoreless innings for Blue, who used three double plays to stymie Township.
Township stranded 11 baserunners, had one runner thrown out at home and another retired in a rundown between third and home. Brandon Mills had two of Township’s six hits.