New Era Sports Writer
With three straight Midget-Midget titles, the Mountville Indians have already written quite a chapter in the history of the New Era Tournament.
Friday night, they were almost involved in another historical chapter, but one much more dubious. The Indians were nearly upset in their opening game of this year’s tournament. But they rallied for three unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning to fight off Manheim Township Black 5-2 at Kunkle Field.
Had Mountville lost, it might’ve gone down as the biggest upset in the 60-year history of the tournament. Mountville came in with a 33-13 record. Manheim Township Black was 8-16.
“We should’ve won,” said Township coach Bob Coleman. “They got a balk and scored a run and scored another run on a passed ball. If those two things don’t happen, we win 2-0.”
“We were very, very fortunate,” said Mountville coach Bob Sauders. “A lot of our games have been that way this year.”
The win puts Mountville into the Midget-Midget semifinals on Monday at 8 p.m. back at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field. The Indians, now 34-13, will play Hempfield Black, which beat the Warwick Phillies 2-1 in Friday night’s other quarterfinal game.
Hempfield Black is 18-10, but has lost to Mountville three times this season.
That past history wasn’t very meaningful in Mountville’s game against Manheim Township Black. Mountville won 7-3 and 9-0 in the previous two meetings this season, but Township almost pulled a shocking upset.
Mountville went up 1-0 in the third inning on a single by Chris Cain, a double by Zach Brubaker and a two-out balk called on Township starter Adam Yinginger.
Three walks by reliever Robert Lehman and a passed ball produced the Indians’ second run in the fourth, an inning that was delayed 1 hour, 20 minutes by lightning and the threat of heavy rain.
A walk, a single by Alex Vigilante, a stolen base and two Mountville errors enabled Township to tie it 2-2 in the fourth. Township never threatened after that, but Mountville did. It had runners at second and third and nobody out in the sixth but couldn’t score. Alex Manacher eventually tried to steal home with two outs, but became the third out.
A Township error opened the doors for Mountville’s three-run seventh. Michael Garner and John Witt each had RBI singles in the inning, and Witt stole home for the third run.
“The boys didn’t quit,” said Sauders.
Mountville only had three hits through the first six innings, then had three more in the seventh. “It seems like when our bats go cold, they go (ice) cold,” said Sauders. “And they were definitely cold tonight.” Hempfield used small ball and a giant arm to beat the Warwick Phillies (15-13).
Hempfield only had two hits, and both were bunt singles. But Michael Brookhart’s bunt drove in a run and tied the game 1-1 in the fourth.
Hempfield got its winning run in the sixth without a hit, thanks to an error, two steals, and a wild pitch.
Meanwhile, pitcher Jordan Neff shut down Warwick on four hits. He struck out 11 and walked just one.
“He’s the kind of kid that rises to the occasion,” said Hempfield coach Dan Brookhart of Neff.
Hempfield only got one ball out of the infield against Warwick lefthander Jordan Donmoyer, who struck out nine in a losing effort.
“Credit their pitcher. It was obvious we weren’t going to have a big night with the bats,” said Brookhart. “So we shifted gears and tried to manufacture some stuff.”
Brookhart said it was the fourth time in six meetings that Hempfield had beaten Warwick this season, but five of the games were one-run decisions.
Hempfield is 0-for-3 against Mountville.
“But it’s getting closer each time,” said Brookhart.
Township’s near-upset of Mountville could be a m”ental boost for Hempfield.
“I think it was good for our kids to see that game,” said Brookhart. “We took a couple of lessons from that. Hopefully, we’ll give them a game.”