By Dave Bryne
If it is July, it must be time for the mid-summer classic.
No, not MLB’s bloated All-Star extravaganza.
“This Time It Counts!!!”
No, it is time, once again, for the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament.
The 64th edition of the icing on every youth baseball team’s cake kicks off tonight at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field with quarterfinal contests in the Midget-Midget, aka Under-12, division.
Another round of quarterfinal games follows on Friday with the U-12 semifinals on Monday and championship game set for Tuesday. All games will be played at Kunkle.
One side note: to accomodate the Lancaster Barnstormers’ schedule and still have use of Clipper Magazine Stadium for Midget division games, the Midget Division tournament will begin on Sunday, July 12 and run concurrent with the Under-12 tournament on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Donegal (25-8) vs. Mountville Indians (16-16)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — Donegal, comprising players from Marietta and Maytown, is the top seed from the Susquehanna League. New Era Tournament perennial Mountville is the 4th seed from the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League (the old Penn Manor League). The Indians were runners-up in the Rheems Tournament and got to the semifinals of three others.
NEW ERA TOURNAMENT HONORS — Be it Maytown-Marietta or whatever, the Donegal lads are looking to write a new chapter of New Era Tournament history. The Indians have won seven New Era titles, but have been shut out since 2004.
RETURNING PLAYERS — Donegal coach Mike Kolenda notes that Maytown and Marietta played as separate entities last year, going a combined 3-33. The concept of team has taken hold. Meanwhile, Remington Mahosky and Dusty Walter are the only returning players from last year’s New Era semifinalists.
Hempfield Black (23-6) vs. Manheim VFW Maroon (12-10)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — Black won the LCYBL league championship and also placed first in the Manheim Tournament. Manheim placed third in the Susquehanna League.
NEW ERA TOURNAMENT HONORS — After winning its first-ever title in 2007, Black was eliminated in the first round last year. Manheim was runner-up to SWS in last year’s tournament and has won three New Era titles overall.
RETURNING PLAYERS — Black returns eight players from last year: Chris Booth, Grant Conway, Derek Manning, Ben Naumann, Grant Oberholtzer, Jon Peterson and Drew Scoggin. VFW coach Jeff Flanagan observes that he has three players back from last year’s runner-up, but does not list who they are.
Warwick Phillies (30-6) vs. Penn Manor Comets (9-9)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — The Phillies won their division in the LCBYL regular season, but lost in the championship game to Hempfield. They also won the Donegal Springs, Mount Joy and Rheems Wood Bat Classic tournaments. The Comets, fifth seed from the LCYBL, defeated Susquehanna League fourth seed Mount Joy Blue 13-4 in a play-in earlier this week.
NEW ERA TOURNAMENT HONORS — Warwick has two titles to its credit. The consortium of programs that morphed into the Penn Manor Comets have 12 titles in their history.
RETURNING PLAYERS — Chase Martin (.420, 32 RBIs) and Trevor Fitzpatrick return from last year, while newcomers Drew Keller (.392, 30 RBIs), Grant Zimmerman (.380, 47 stolen bases) and Colin Gibble (.400, 30 RBIs) have made key contributions. As there was no “A” team from Penn Manor last year, the Comets are comprised of, technically, all first-year players.
Rheems Blue (12-6) vs. MT Black (13-10)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — Rheems placed second in both the Susquehanna League regular season and in the league tournament. MT Black is the third seed out of the LCYBL.
NEW ERA TOURNAMENT HONORS — Rheems is looking for its first New Era Tournament title. Township is making its first appearance in five years and has won two tournament titles.
RETURNING PLAYERS — Austin Hilsher is the only returning player from last year’s Rheems Blue A squad, but Sam Epps (.545 BA, 6-2 2.77 ERA), Brady Lefever (.438, 3-1, 3.03 ERA), Max Kuntz, Nick Good, Joel Hess, David Sturgis and Hunter Thomas move up from the “B” level. Josh Kinderwater (.424) moves up from the Minors along with Daniel Buckwalter and Seth Spiglemyer. Township lists Ryan Dornes, Kevin Bushong, Nolan Sachs, Bryce Schloneger and Tommy Smeltz as returning players from last year.