A trip around the bases

Mountville’s Brandon Kline rounds third after his first home run.

Brandon Kline’s two homers help power the Mountville Angels into the semifinals.

By Keith Schweigert
New Era Assistant Sports Editor

Brandon Kline just returned from vacation overseas.

Elizabethtown Blue’s players probably wish he had stayed there.

Kline crushed a pair of home runs — a two-run shot and a grand slam — to help the Mountville Angels open defense of their New Era Tournament Junior Midget title with a 15-2 drubbing of E-town Thursday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.

The Angels will face the Strasburg-Willow Street White Sox in the semifinals Monday back at Kunkle. SWS advanced with a 10-0 shutout of Rheems Gray in Thursday’s nightcap, riding a dominating performance by pitcher Chad Babcock, who struck out 15 batters and allowed just two baserunners.

“I felt really good tonight,” said Babcock, who fanned the last 12 batters he faced after working out of a first-and-third jam in the first inning. “I told the guys in the dugout early in the game that all I needed was one run and I’d do the rest. Everything was working for me.”

Kline must have felt the same way. He crushed a 2-1 pitch over the scoreboard in the first inning to help fuel Mountville’s seven-run rally, then added a grand slam in the second as the Angels took a 14-0 advantage.

Not bad for someone who just got back from a 10-day vacation in Italy and Greece.

“I told him we’re going to send him out of the country for the weekend,” joked Mountville coach Jeff Ream.

Kline combined with leadoff hitter Drew Schanz to drive in 10 runs for the Angels, who are seeking their fourth straight title in the New Era Tourney. Most of the players on this year’s squad can trace their championship lineage back to 2002, when they won the first of two straight Midget-Midget crowns with the Mountville Indians.

“It’s definitely a goal,” said Kline. “It’s the fourth straight year we’re going for it. Last year, we were the first Mountville team to win one at the (J-M) level. Now we want to be the first ones to repeat.” With Mountville out to a double-digit lead, Ream pulled his son, starting pitcher D.J. Ream, off the mound to save him for later in the tournament. Schanz took over in the third and went three innings, allowing two runs on two hits.

Schanz was Mountville’s other hot hitter. He flirted with the cycle after leading off the game with a solo homer, smacking an RBI double later in the first as the Angels batted around and adding a two-run single in the third.

He was thinking about a triple when he came up with two on and one out in the third inning, he admitted later, but he popped out to first instead.

“I just didn’t get a pitch to hit,” he said.

Centerfielder David Perales also finished one hit short of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a triple in the first, and RBI single in the second and a double in the third.

While Mountville’s offense dominated the opener, the nightcap was all about Babcock. The lanky Lampeter-Strasburg sophomore-to-be completely overpowered Rheems Gray on his way to a career-high 15 strikeouts. “He was in control from start to finish,” said SWS coach Bill DeMora. “He’s always been a dominating pitcher, and tonight he was on.”

Babcock had plenty of offense behind him, as the White Sox broke the game open with a five-run rally in the fourth to take an 8-0 lead.

Randy Hess led off the inning with a home run, and Danny Snyder drove in another run with a bunt single and later scored on a single from Ben DeMora. Joe Good added a two-run double to cap the rally.

The White Sox tagged reliever Shane Long for two runs in the fifth to invoke the 10-run rule.

Kline is mobbed after his second homer.

Mountville’s D.J. Ream slides safely past E-town’s Nico Givens at second.

And D.J. Ream makes it into third ahead of throw to Alex Kirchner.

Mountville’s Drew Schanz tags out E-town’s Jeremi Jones.

Mountville pitcher Drew Schanz.

Mountville hurler D.J. Ream.

Strasburg-Willow Street’s Jon Carlson complains over an “out” call as Rheems’ Quinn Cozzens secures the ball in his glove.

SWS runner Danny Snyder slides under Quinn Cozzens.

SWS pitcher Chad Babrock.

Randy Hess of SWS is congratulated as he rounds third.