The introduction of wooden bats in the Junior-Midget division of the New Era Tournament was a great success, judging from the first night’s action at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.
The Mountville Angels (16-3) earned bragging rights in the borough, defeating the Mountville Yankees, 4-2, behind the strong right arm, not to mention lively bat, of Bryan Haberstroh.
In the second game of the evening, the Strasburg-Willow Street White Sox outlasted Mt. Joy Blue, 4-3, in nine innings, setting up a semifinal match with the Angels.
Game time at Kunkle Field Monday is 6 p.m.
Haberstroh yielded five hits and two earned runs and struck out 13 while walking none in a complete-game effort.
He also went 2-for-3 at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in a pair, sparking the Angels’ 9-hit attack.
“It was different,” said Haberstroh of his first venture with the wood bat. “I just tried to stay down on the ball and hit line drives.”
The game sailed along scoreless through the first three innings, with an emphasis on defense as the wood bats created an “honest” environment. Fly balls settled in outfielders’ gloves instead of over the fence. Balls fisted off batters’ hands settled in infielders’ gloves instead of just beyond the infield.
Thirteen balls settled in catcher Matt Hartman’s glove as Haberstroh had his curveball working to perfection, complimenting a fastball that sizzled.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of the batters,” said Haberstroh. “My curveball really worked all year, so I tried to stick with that.”
“He’s been throwing like that all year,” observed Angels’ coach Bob Hartman, Jr.. “He’s striking out, on the average, ten batters a game. He rarely walks a man.”
“My guys have hit great all year,” said Yanks coach Norm Strosser, Jr. “But they just ran into a tough pitcher. Bryan was on his game. His curveball was just devastating.”
One curveball did not make it to Hartman’s glove. Austin Young drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence in left center, driving in Jake Lorenzen, who had reached on a force.
Young’s sixth-inning blast halved the Yankees (19-8) deficit, but Haberstroh was never headed as he crossed the finish line.
No-hit by Michael Strosser through three innings, the Angels broke on top with four straight singles in the fourth.
Haberstroh knocked in Zach Burke and Nelson Paredes singled in Haberstroh to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. The Burke-Haberstroh connection delivered again in the fifth inning and Hartman doubled Haberstroh home, but Burke had to exit the game after jamming his thumb while stealing second base.
John Gote’ didn’t start the second game. But he surely finished it.
Gote’s two-out, ninth-inning single through shortstop scored Jared Horn with the go-ahead run and winning pitcher Kohner Morgan wrapped five innings of relief with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to give the White Sox their first win of the year over Mt. Joy Blue in five tries.
“I was so fired up, I had so much adrenaline,” said Morgan. “I was just throwing fastballs, trying to gun them down.”
The Sox (26-16) took the lead on Anthony Wittemann’s first-inning home run and added two in the third on Jason Lindsley’s infield single and a wild pitch to go up 3-0.
Blue (31-6-1) got one back on Tommy Hatt’s bases-loaded infield out, plating Dalton Garrett, who registered Mt. Joy’s first hit of the game.
But Blue left two on base, the fifth and sixth of the game, a trend that would dog the Susquehanna League champions all game. When the final out had been recorded, Mt. Joy, held to just four hits, had left 16 runners on base.
SWS starter Brett Brooks had control issues, walking seven and hitting two batters in four innings. When he loaded the bases on a hit batter and two walks in the fifth, Morgan came on and doused the fire with no damage.
Mt. Joy reached Morgan in the sixth inning on Michael Houseal’s one-out, bases-loaded 2-run single, tying the game. But Blue missed a chance to go ahead when Garrett held at third as Justin Prescott forced Houseal in the middle of the infield.
Blue would strand two more in the seventh and three more in the eighth as Morgan got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.