It was hotter than the sweatband in a fireman’s helmet Thursday night in the opening game of the 66th New Era Tournament’s Junior-Midget division.
And so was Hempfield Black pitcher Jon Peterson.
Figuratively and literally.
Bringing fastball heat in the mid-70s, in the stifling blast furnace that was Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field, Peterson tossed a three-hit shutout and went 2 for 4 with a run scored as Hempfield Black blanked the Rheems Royals, 3-0.
The victory earned Hempfield a spot in Monday’s J-M semifinals opposite Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox, an 11-5 winner over Lititz VFW. Game time at Kunkle Field is set for 6 p.m.
Peterson prevailed in a pitcher’s duel with the Royals Sam Epps, who allowed just five hits. Each pitcher struck out 12 batters. Peterson walked one, Epps two.
“We saw Sam in the (LCYBL) playoffs,” said Peterson, “we had to really keep concentration with him.”
But Epps was victim of some loose play behind him, opportunities that Black jumped on.
Grant Oberholtzer singled in Dustin Walter, who reached on an error leading off the second inning, with the only run Peterson would need.
Black gave Peterson some wiggle room with single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Peterson reached on a one-out double in the fifth, scoring on John Beck’s bloop single to right. Ted Granbois was safe on a sacrifice bunt-and-error, eventually scoring in a sixth-inning plagued with four errors.
Peterson appreciated the extra support.
“I was sweating a lot out there,” said Peterson. “It was just exhausting.”
Between innings Peterson took every opportunity to fight the effects of his exertions.
“I was able to hydrate a lot,” he said.
Peterson averaged just over 11 pitches an inning and was in trouble — such as it was — in one inning.
Rheems put its first two runners on in the third inning, but Peterson struck out the side to avoid damage.SWS White Sox 11, Lititz 5: As darkness fell on Kunkle, base hits fell to the scorched grass and runs scored in prodigious numbers.
Relative to the first game.
The Strasburg Willow Street White Sox jumped on Lititz VFW early and finished in the evening torpor with an 11-5 victory.
VFW starter Colin Gibble had trouble locating the strike zone, walking the first two batters he faced.
SWS’s third batter, Cameron Enck, had no trouble locating Gibble’s fourth pitch of the at bat, driving it well over the fence in right center for a 3-run homer and the rout was afoot.
The Sox scored five more times in the second inning — all unearned — as Lititz committed five errors to go with a pair of SWS hits and two walks.
Just as it appeared Lititz might be in for a short night, VFW got on the board in the third inning.
Enck, who got the start for SWS, walked a pair around Grant Zimmerman’s bad-hop single and Drew Keller’s bases-loaded ground out plated VFW’s first run.
Luke Hackman followed with a bad-hop two-run single into right field, bring VFW back from the abyss.
Cole Adams, who came in relief of Gibble in the second inning, restored order as SWS left the bases loaded in the third and fourth.
But Collin “Bear” Shank reached him for a long opposite-field homer in the fifth and SWS added another unearned run in the inning, chasing Adams.
Shank also doubled in Devon Weiant in the sixth to close out the Sox scoring.
Lititz scored unearned runs in the fifth and seventh, but never mounted a sustained threat.