By Dave Bryne
New Era Correspondent
Last Friday, Solanco Gold coach Steve Foley ran into a friend who inquired, “How are you doing in the New Era?”
“I’m in the middle of a game right now,” was Foley’s reply.
A reply met, no doubt, with a slightly tilted head and knitted brow.
At the time, Foley’s team and its opponent, Lititz VFW, were in the middle of a 38-hour rain delay.
Two outs away from an official game, Lititz (31-5) enjoyed a 10-6 advantage when the heavens opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
When the teams next took the field, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Lititz held on to claim a 17-11 victory and advance to tonight’s Junior-Midget semifinals of the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament.
VFW will meet Manheim Township Black (24-8), a winner by forfeit over the Ephrata Phillies, in tonight’s first game at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field. Game time is 6 p.m.
The Mountville Angels and Hempfield Black follow in the 8 p.m. nightcap. Hitting ruled the day &tstr; both days – as Lititz banged out 14 hits and Solanco 15 Thursday and Saturday.
It wasn’t the first time these two teams had traded haymakers in NET action.
In the 2002 Midget-Midget quarterfinals, Solanco claimed a see-saw battle, 10-9, over the Warwick Phillies. Solancoscored four runs in their last at bat to pull out the victory.
This time it was Warwick’s turn.
VFW’s first four hitters were a combined 9-for-14 with 11 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
Cleanup hitter Michael Freeman accounted for five of those RBIs, including a 3-run homer in the fourth inning that gave Lititz its 10-6 lead Thursday night.
The homer put Freeman in position to win the game after Gold (15-13) nicked him for five runs – four unearned – in the bottom of the third inning.
When play resumed, Randy Yost jerked a grand slam over the left field fence as VFW struck for seven runs and pushed Solanco to the precipice of the 10-run rule.
Lititz coach Joe Noll had a feeling it wasn’t going to be enough.
“This game isn’t near over,” he told his team.
He was correct. Solanco knocked Freeman out of the game in the sixth with five runs on five straight hits.
In the midst of the onslaught was Kyle Beane’s second home run of the game, a high, soaring, 3-run drive over the scoreboard in left field.
“He’s had a huge year,” Foley said. “That’s his seventh home run. I’m not sure of his RBIs, but he’s the team leader.”
Brent Stoltzfus, VFW’s starting pitcher, came back into the game and calmed the waters, scattering two hits while recording three strikeouts and two groundball outs the rest of the way.
“We felt good being the home team,” Foley said. “We thought the last team to bat would win, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
Thursday’s rains washed the Ephrata Phillies out of the tournament. They had enough players to play that night, but vacation absences over the weekend created a fatal deficiency in numbers for Ephrata. Unable to field a full lineup Saturday, the Phillies forfeited the game.