New Era Correspondent
Call it Black Friday.
Manheim Township Black and Hempfield Black picked up victories on Day Two of the New Era Baseball tournament as the preliminary rounds of the Junior-Midget division were completed.
Both teams cruised to victories terminated by the 10-run mercy rule.
Township (18-6) pounded out 14 hits to defeat the Clay Cubs, 15-2, while Jason Enoch and Austin Hinkle combined for a no-hitter as Hempfield (24-6) dominated Pioneer White, 13-0.
Enoch, the ace of Hempfield’s run to last year’s J-M title, walked one and struck out nine in three innings’ work.
Enoch walked David Nicklaus, the Pioneers’ No. 2 hitter, in the first inning and Nicklaus zipped to third on a pair of wild pitches.
He made no further advance, however, and the only other runner to reach base was losing pitcher Dallas Eberly, who drew a one-out walk from Hinkle in the fourth.
Eberly was promptly erased on a strikeout double play – one of four Ks for Hinkle – and the only batter for the Pioneers (13-4) to put the ball in play was Ryan Whitman, who grounded to Enoch at short to end the game.
From last year to this, it’s hard to discern any change in Enoch’s mound work, but he says it’s there.
“I have more confidence on the mound this year,” he allowed. “I’m more pumped to throw.”
Enoch was pumped at the plate too as he knocked a pair of doubles in three trips, scoring three runs and driving in one.
His battery-mate, Justin Simmons, hit safely in three at bats, driving in a pair of runs.
Nick Vosnock, Black’s other championship veteran, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, scoring twice. Brian Biggs went 2-for-4 including a 2-run homer. Mike Baker scored all four times he reached base, walking three times and reaching on an error.
“We’re on a mission to repeat,” Enoch said. “We’ve been playing pretty well throughout the year.”
While Enoch and Vosnock escort their new teammates down the tournament trail, it’s all new to Township Black.
Although most of this team has played together for four years now, this is their first-ever trip to the New Era Tournament.
“This has been a goal of ours for four years,” said Black’s ace, Jared Ellis. “At the beginning of the season our coach, Jim Lilly, said this is where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Now that they’re here, they hope to stick around for a while. If they can continue to hit and pitch like they did Friday, it’s an attainable goal.
Ellis surrendered a pair of runs to Clay (14-8) on four hits and three walks, striking out 12.
He helped his cause, fisting a 2-run, Kunkle-Field homer over the left field fence in the first inning, and driving in a run in the second on a groundout.
Shawn Keller, Kyle Storm, Tim Myers and Chris Diebler each scored twice for Township and Kevin Whitworth knocked in a pair.
But the real damage was meted out by shortstop Greg Testa, who drove in six runs and scored three.
He followed a second-inning sac-fly with a 3-run home run in the third, then singled in two more runs in the fourth inning. He also walked and scored in the first.
“I just went out there and tried to hit my best,” he said. “I’ve been working on my swing a lot lately.”
It showed. He took a sweet swing on his homer, driving the ball beyond straight away center field, a good 265 yards.
“I thought it had a chance,” he said. “As I ran to first I was hoping it would go out.”
Arguably the two best teams in the tournament , one of these two will not make the final since they’re in the same semifinal bracket.
Which isn’t to say a semifinal matchup is a lock. Hempfield faces a tough quarterfinal opponent on Tuesday night, taking on fellow Susquehanna League resident, Lititz VFW.