By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent
If you like to block out four or five hours to watch baseball, and you like to see baseballs sprayed all over the yard, then Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field was the place to be Thursday night.
In the first game of the Junior-Midget quarterfinals of the 63rd New Era Tournament, Solanco Gold out-slugged Mount Joy Blue 9-6.
Hempfield Black broke on top early in the second game, then scored seven runs over the final three innings to drill the Manheim Lions 11-1 in a game shortened to six innings by the 10-run rule.
Thursday’s winners will meet in the first game of a semifinal doubleheader set for next Wednesday back at Kunkle Field at 6 p.m.
The winners of tonight’s quarterfinal twinbill will play in Wednesday’s second semifinal.
Nate Booth and Dylan Manning combined on a one-hitter to pace Black (19-8-1).
Booth pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief behind Manning — who left with a back injury — and picked up the win.
“We think it’s probably a pulled muscle or something. Maybe just a cramp,” Hempfield coach Bob Gantz said.
He seemed to think that with seven days before his team plays again, that will be plenty of time for Manning to recover.
Meanwhile, Booth finished up, allowing Manheim’s only hit of the night, a solo home run by Josh Good.
“Yeah, I messed up on that one,” Booth said. “I missed my spot.”
Good got the start for the Lions (8-17) and missed his spot. Repeatedly.
He threw 22 balls in 38 pitches and walked five of the nine batters he faced, surrendering four runs.
“We knew if Josh was on we were going to have a tough game ahead of us,” Gantz said. “Sometimes that happens, you can’t find the plate.”
Instead it was Manheim that had it tough. And Hempfield made it tougher, scoring two in the fourth inning, four in the fifth, and putting the game away with one out in the sixth.
“We got our bats moving,” said Gantz. “It took us a few innings until we got a few more on the board there. We were able to get some keys hits to do that.”
Coming off the bench, Anthony Dornes, hitting in Manning’s spot, and Ryan Leach were a big part of the closeout.
Dornes went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Leach drove in four runs, including three on a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning.
Solanco (22-14-2) broke out the longball to subdue Blue.
Adam Planamento hit a pair of 2-run homers and Kyle Eby broke the ice with a 2-run shot in the first inning.
“We’re a good hitting team,” explaned Planamento, who picked up the save with three innings of relief behind winning pitcher Gabriel Skolnick.
“We’ve been hitting well since day one. “
“The last seven games of the season we scored 84 runs,” offered Gold coach Kurt Kreider.
“Tonight they held us under 12, but, as you can see, we can hit the long ball, and have all year.”
Eby’s homer gave Solanco a brief 2-0 lead, but Mount Joy (19-7) took advantage of three walks and an error to plate four second-inning runs on an RBI groundout by Michael Houseal, Nick Tufarolo’s sac fly and Dylan Houseal’s bunt single.
Solanco got that back in the bottom of the second with a four-spot of its own, capped by Planamento’s first dinger.
Solanco, playing in its first New Era Tournament, stretched the advantage to 7-4 in the third inning and, after Michael Robinson drove in a run for Blue in the fourth, plated two on Planamento’s second blast.
Ben Shenandoah’s RBI double in the fifth made it 9-6, but Blue could get no closer as its last threat was stanched by a nifty 5-4-3 double play. “It’s our first New Era Tournament and I hope it’s going to be a good one,” Planamento said. “I hope we go all the way.”