Championship is up for grabs

By Dave Bryne
New Era Correspondent

Gazing into the crystal ball last year our fearless forecaster foresaw a New Era Tournament Junior-Midget championship game that would be a repeat of 2004, pitting Lititz VFW against the Mountville Angels.

So Lititz went out in the first round and Mountville exited in the semifinals.

The swami hung up his turban after that misfire and, with no applicants for the position, there will be no predictions concerning this year’s tournament.

Except for this observation by Lititz VFW coach Dave Erb, who has seen a New Era Tournament or two in his time: “I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite.”

There you have it.

(But here’s something for your tout sheet: Hempfield Black has won 8 of its last 10 ballgames, including sweeping the Penn Manor League playoffs.)

Hempfield coach Jerry Byers. observed, “When we got to the last third of the season, we picked up our game.”

The 61st New Era Junior-Midget Tournament picks up its game tonight with a quarterfinal doubleheader at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.

Action continues Friday evening at Kunkle with another quarterfinal twinbill, then picks up again Monday night with the semifinals.

All quarterfinal and semifinal doubleheaders will begin at 6 p.m. with the second game following 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first.

The championship game will be contested next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kunkle Field.

You will notice some seemingly familiar names in the capsules. Yes, it’s all relative at this year’s tournament.

E-town centerfielder Bradley Garber is the brother of recent E-town standout and current Shippensburg star Justin Garber, and is the distant, very distant, cousin of former major leaguer Gene Garber.

Manheim Township pitcher/shortstop Cameron Gallagher is the kid brother of Township star Austin Gallagher and is the son of former Millersville coach and Toronto Blue Jays prospect Glenn Gallagher.

Strasburg/Willow Street catcher Ryan Haley is the brother of the recently graduated Charlie Haley, who backstopped L-S’s state championship team in 2005. 

Here’s a look at each of the eight teams in this year’s tournament. Penryn is the only newcomer this year.

LITITZ VFW
COACH: Dave Erb
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A. Regular season champions.
RECORD: 14-7-1
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1, 1992
KEY PLAYERS: Three return from last year: ss/p Chad Snader; of/p/c J.T. Garner; lf Matt Ruhl. Joining them are p/cf Adam Zipko; 3b & leadoff hitter Darren Erb; ss/cf Kyle Keener; rf Nate Lawrence; 1b Dylan Haefner; c Deron Thompson.

E-TOWN BLUE
COACH: John Fosnot
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division. Regular season & League playoff champion.
RECORD: 20-7
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: Six players return: ss Mitch Weidman; p Jordan Eberly; lf Michael VanHorn; 1b Travis Eppley; cf Bradley Garber; rf Jared Dannecker.

MOUNTVILLE ANGELS
COACH: Ron Brubaker
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A. Regular season & League playoff runnerup.
RECORD: 14-6
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1, 2004
KEY PLAYERS: Three players return: ss/p Cullen Wolf; ss/p Patrick Welsh; c Steve Remley.

PENRYN
COACH: Ted Shonk
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division. Regular season & League playoff runnerup.
RECORD: 17-14
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: 1b John Stoudt; p/ss Lowen Johnson; p/ss/c Casey Ebersole; cf Seth Weidle all hit over .400; c Tyler Whittemore. Johnson has 5 HR.

MANHEIM TWP. BLACK
COACH: Neil Savage
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A. Regular season third place.
RECORD: 21-8-2
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 2, defending champions, & 2003. Also, MT Cubs won in 1970 & 72
KEY PLAYERS: Nobody returns from last year. c Ben Woratyla; p/inf Matt Neil; ss/p Cameron Gallagher; p/of Darren Chillot.

RHEEMS GRAY
COACH: Herb Miller
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division. Regular season third place.
RECORD: 13-10
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: p Matt Frederick; cf & leadoff hitter Tyler Schmalhofer; c Evan Klag. Very young team with nine-player foundation for next year.

HEMPFIELD BLACK
COACH: Jerry Byers
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A. Regular season fourth place. League playoff champion. Defeated Marietta/Maytown Blue 7-4 in NET play-in game.
RECORD: 16-14-2
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 2, 1998 & 99.
KEY PLAYERS: p Jordan Neff; c Joel Buchko; cf Brian Mannino. Another young team with seven-player foundation for next year.

SWS WHITE SOX
COACH: Dan Herr
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A. Regular season fifth place. Defeated Mt. Joy Blue 10-0 in NET play-in game.
RECORD: 12-14-2
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1, 2001.
KEY PLAYERS: 2b & leadoff hitter Ryan Hershey; 1b/of Nate Shaffer; ss Kevin Cotchen return from last year’s J-M runnerup. p/1b/of Trevor McClain; p/of Kevin Regan; c Ryan Haley.