Adamstown, Willow Street reach junior-midget quarters

Willow Street’s Matt Suter

By Keith Schweigert
Special to the New Era

If pitching really does win games, something will have to give next week when Adamstown and Willow Street square off in the junior-midget quarterfinals of the New Era Tournament .

The two teams used strong pitching performances to dispatch their preliminary opponents in a doubleheader Thursday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field. Adamstown buried West End 13-2 and Willow Street held off Strasburg 5-3.

With their victories, the two teams will meet next Wednesday at Kunkle Field in the quarterfinals.

Adamstown pitcher Jerry Channel gave the night’s most stellar performance, striking out 15 West End batters as his team rolled to victory in the nightcap. The left-hander allowed just five hits and issued four walks in his domination of the Phillies.

Channel also helped his cause offensively, going 1-for-2 with a three-run home run. Teammates Dustin Hoffert (2-for-4, two home runs, four RBIs) and Rory Hassler (4-for-4, two RBIs) also provided the offensive spark for Adamstown.

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early innings, as West End pitcher Adam Martin gave up just two hits and struck out five in the first three innings.

West End took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Chris Pfeiffer, a lead they held until the fourth inning.

But from there, Adamstown got its bats moving, taking the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a three-run blast by Hoffert that chased Martin in favor of reliever Brian Steinbecker.

“I think we were a bit surprised to see a left-hander on the mound,” said Adamstown assistant coach Ron Cazzone. “But I knew that we’d be able to hit him the second time around (in the order). He wasn’t really dominating out there.”

Adamstown made it 5-0 in the fourth, scoring two runs on a fielding error by West End left fielder Jonathan Herr. Jeremiah Mertz, who singled, and Hassler, who hit the second of his three doubles, scored on the play.

The game was out of reach after the sixth inning, as Adamstown piled eight runs on top of Steinbecker, who eventually was pulled for Kevin Forry.

Channel and Hoffert had back-to-back home runs in the inning. Channel’s dinger chased Steinbecker, while Hoffert smacked Forry’s first pitch over the right field wall.

West End got its second run in the top of the seventh when Eddie Mussleman walked, stole second, took third on a passed ball, and scored on Brett Haney’s ground out.

The opening game of the doubleheader was a dogfight the whole way. Willow Street shook off the rust of a long layoff, took an early 4-0 lead, and then fought off a determined Strasburg team to preserve the win.

Winning pitcher Matt Suter had a solid game for the Twins, holding Strasburg to three hits while fanning eight and walking four. He strained his back in the fifth inning, but had enough power left to hold off the Senators late in the game.

“Matt pitched his way out of a few jams, and then hurt his back,” said Willow Street manager Ron Sharpe. “I think he pitched through some pain. He did really well for us.”

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Suter walked, stole both second and third, and scored on an RBI single by Phil Lutz.

Leading 2-0 after two innings, Willow Street got two big runs in the third.

Suter started the rally with a single, then stole second. Lutz then drew a walk, and both runners advanced on a passed ball. After Derek Euston struck out, Jim Lawson bunted down the third base line. Losing pitcher Brad Weymer pounced on the ball and threw it to first, but no one was covering, allowing Lutz and Suter to score on the error.

“That was a key moment for us in the game, scoring two runs on a bunt,” said Sharpe.

Strasburg cut the lead to 4-2 in the fourth when Todd Rohrer singled with runners on first and second. The ball eluded Twins’ rightfielder Jeff Barninger, allowing both runners to score.

The Senators pulled to within one run in the fifth. Raun Reed walked to start the inning, stole second, and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Mikolajczyk. Reed scored when Jon Sheehan reached first on an error.

But Willow Street added a big insurance run in the top of the seventh when Suter drove in Keith McFalls with a single to center.

Suter then forced Strasburg into three easy ground outs in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game.

Adamstown’s Jerry Channel