BY DAVE BYRNE
They have no fear, despite their relative youth. And partly because of that, Cocalico is in the Midget finals of the LNP Tournament.
Feeding on the opportunity as it presented itself helped a bit, too.
Scoring all its runs in the second inning, Cocalico (12-5), the No. 5 seed coming into the tournament, ousted top-seeded Hempfield Black, 6-2 Friday at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Cocalico sandwiched Drew Myers’ base hit with walks to Austin Harven and Brendan Eberly, loading the bases to open the second inning.
Jerrell Martin flared an two-run single to center field, Mark Peterson just missing a diving catch.
With runners at first and third, and no one out, Hempfield (15-2) pulled the infield up and Brock Showalter shot an RBI single into center, scoring Eberly. Martin was thrown out trying to score for the first out of the inning.
Kyle Robb and Brady Martin each reached base — Robb on a soft fly to right, Martin on a flare to left — and were still on their respective bases as Drew Sawyer grounded to first baseman Kyle Bottenfield, who made the short toss to losing pitcher Logan Givler.
Givler threw back across the diamond, trying to nab Robb. The throw went awry — way awry and out of bounds — sending Robb home, and Brady Martin, on the overthrow.
That was all winning pitcher Tyler Stricker needed as he negotiated the ensuing six innings to nail down the victory.
Black nicked him for solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings as Peterson tripled in Kyle Bottenfield in the fifth and Tanner Seitz scored on a passed ball in the sixth.
Turning point: The second inning. Cocalico rode that outburst the whole way to the finish line.
Star of the game: Stricker, who always seemed to make the pitch when he needed to, especially in the seventh inning, when he struck out Nick Boulanger with two on and one out. Honorable mention to Black’s Mark Peterson, who was 4 for 4 with an RBI triple.
Key statistic: Givler retired 15 of the last 16 he faced after the second inning.
Quotable: “Yeah, that was a big help,” Stricker said of the big sixth inning. “I was relaxed and knew I could just pitch and throw strikes.
“I was getting a little tired,” Stricker added on Black reaching him for six of their nine hits from the fourth inning on. “I knew if I just kept pitching strikes, my defense would back me up.”
LITITZ ODDFELLOWS 3, GARDEN SPOT 1
For the second night in a row, the Lititz Oddfellows collected a limited, measly few hits.
For the second night in a row, it did not matter.
Making the most of three hits, the Oddfellows (15-2) returned to the Midget championship game of the LNP Tournament with a victory over Garden Spot on Friday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Lititz scored unearned runs in the second and third innings and posted an insurance run when Reed Martin doubled in pinch runner Jake Weachter in the fourth inning.
Nate Hess led off Lititz’s second inning with a walk, stealing second and third. On the steal of third losing pitcher Josh Leid overthrew second base into center field on a pickoff try, allowing Hess to score.
An inning later, with two out, Bryce Zimmerman walked. As Tyler Martin singled into right field, Zimmerman continued home when Jordan Petersheim bobbled the ball.
Winning pitcher Ethan Norman scattered seven hits over six innings, keeping Spot (14-3) off the scoreboard until the sixth when Kyle Martin’s sacrifice fly plated Anthony Torreulla, who reached on a one-out double.
Turning point: In the bottom of the first, with the game scoreless, Spot’s Brock Kauffman stroked a two-out triple to the deepest part of left field. Lititz intentionally walked Torreulla and, on the first pitch to Cameron Heilman, Torreulla took off for second. Ignoring Torreulla, catcher Ryan Aukamp’s return throw to Norman sizzled, and Norman turned and spied Kauffman far from the bag at third. His throw to third was true, as was Clark’s tag, snuffing out the inning.
Star of the game: Shortstop Bryce Zimmerman, who offset an error on Josh Leid’s infield hit with four solid assists, including triggering a second-inning double play and turning two fielder’s choices in the middle of the infield.
Key statistic: The Oddfellows are in their fifth LNP Midget final in 10 years. They have yet to lose a title contest.