New Era Correspondent
One of the acknowledged leaders of Manheim Township Black, Carlos Medina, did what a leader should do.
Medina homered twice while going 4-for-4 from the leadoff position, scored three runs and knocked in three as Black (14-12) blanked Mount Joy Blue 9-0 in the second game of a New Era Tournament Junior-Midget quarterfinal doubleheader Friday night at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
In the first game, Hempfield Black (16-13-1) jumped on Lititz VFW for 10 first-inning runs and cruised to a 16-5 victory in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
Hempfield and Township will meet Monday at 8 p.m in the nightcap of a J-M twinbill at Kunkle.
The defending J-M champion Mountville Angels (21-2) and the Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox (12-10-2) will meet in the first game at 6 p.m.
That means the junior-midget field is now entirely made up of Penn Manor League teams.
Their records — with the notable exception of Mountville — may not be gaudy, but they’re there.
“We’ve got a tough league from top to bottom,” said Township coach Mark Good. “We see good baseball day in and day out, so when we come here, we’re ready to play ball.”
Medina was ready, skying a leadoff homer over the right field alley to open the game, then flattening his trajectory just a tad and sending a 2-run shot 15-20 feet to the right.
He tomahawked a single through short leading off the fourth inning but was stranded at third, then banged a double off left field wall in the sixth inning, pulling a pitch that got in on the handle.
“I was waiting for it to break some more, but it didn’t,” he said. “I have quick hands. That’s what everyone says.”
Quick, and tingly too, judging by the way he shook them after pulling into second.
Medina’s offensive display was complemented by his play at short, where he turned the pivot on a key double play in the fifth inning, and by his two strong innings of relief behind winning pitcher Mark Jones.
“He’s our top player,” said Good, “and his leadership on this team means a lot to these guys. Midway through the season he came on fire.”
As did Black, after opening the season 1-5.
“We had a rough start,” Medina said, “and we just finished strong. Nobody expected it, but we won our league championship.”
Medina’s homers were more than enough to support Jones, who held Blue (13-9) to a fourth-inning hit-and-run single by Devin Gorski.
Tall and lanky, Jones got the ball to the plate in a hurry, striking out eight and walking three.
“Mark’s been coming around,” said Good. “The second half of the season he’s really been throwing strong. He’s working more pitches, and I think he’s getting a lot more confidence in himself now.”
Blue starter Jared Dettinger battled through some early location problems and settled into a duel with Good.
But Black batted around in the sixth inning and scored five runs, triggered by Medina’s double and capped by Frank DeFillipo’s 2-run single.
That was not the first time the Black batted around Friday night.
Hempfield sent 13 hitters to the plate in the first inning, collecting seven hits, a walk and two hit batters and scoring 10 runs.
Leadoff hitter Nick Grasso pounded a single and a double off the fence in center and scored twice in the inning. No. 2 hitter Mark Enoch had a pair of singles and scored twice.
Brett Houseal, Black’s No. 3 hitter, singled and slugged a 2-run homer _ his first of two homers — and Jeff Lenhard, the fifth hitter in the order, singled home a pair of runs in the inning.
Lititz scored a pair of unearned runs off Brandon Hinkle in the bottom of the inning but largely found Hinkle’s curveball unhittable as it dropped out of the strike zone at the last second.
Hinkle struck out eight batters in three innings, six on wild curves in the dirt.
In all, Black pounded out 16 hits, three each by Houseal, Enoch and Lenhard and two apiece by Grasso, Andrew Kulp and Kevin Daly.
Lititz (18-6) nicked Hinkle for another run on a wild pitch in the third and scuffed Kulp for two more in relief on Mark Stuckey’s solo homer and a pair of fielding errors.
Shank, who faced 12 batters in the Black first, had a better day at the plate for VFW, hitting a pair of doubles in three trips and scoring two runs. Stuckey also walked twice and scored three times.