In the history of the New Era Tournament’s Midget-Midget division, no team has been more identified with winning championships than the Mountville Indians.
So it might be no surprise to the casual reader to learn that the Indians (27-10) won their eighth NET overall title Tuesday evening, defeating Donegal, 8-6.
Except, this particular edition of the Tribe was not exactly the baseball juggernaut that some of its predecessors may have been.
As coach Bob Sauders noted after Monday’s semifinal victory, “This is a screwy team. We can look so good some games and so bad other games.”
Count this as a look good game.
In what was basically a matchup of Mountville’s pitching against Donegal’s hitting, pitching prevailed.
Mountville held its NET opponents to a .250 batting average and a 3.00 ERA coming into the final.
In turn, Donegal (28-20) had hit to a .452 average — with the top three batters in its line up hitting .636.
Connor Moffatt, who picked up the victory in the Indians’ tournament opener, held Donegal at bay through four innings, allowing two runs on two hits.
When Donegal finally scuffed him, taking the lead with a four-run fifth inning, Jeremy Brubaker — Monday’s winning pitcher — came on with 12-e innings relief to pick up his second win of the tournament.
“Moffatt pitched a heck of a game,” said Donegal coach Shawn Rapp. “We struggled with the curveball. Brubaker came in gutsy after pitching all last night.”
Connor gave us four strong innings,” Sauders agreed. “They’re a good hitting team, we were fortunate to keep them off balance.”
Moffatt helped his cause as the Indians jumped on Donegal starter Dawson Magar for four first-inning runs.
Moffatt drilled a two-run double and Kyle Lukowski added a two-run single in the uprising.
Moffatt surrendered Ian Rapp’s RBI single in the second and Connor Green’s RBI double in the third, but Moffatt mostly muffled the Donegal lumber.
After his rough start Magar settled in, but loaded the bases with no out in the third.
Kyle Hess came on and got two forceouts at home on great infield-up plays by shortstop Connor Green, then squeezed a popup to silence the rally.
Next inning found Mountville with bases loaded once more — this time with one out — and got two popups to evade damage.
“Bases loaded. No runs,” Sauders observed, “that’s usually the kiss of death.”
A big, sloppy kiss, it appeared, when Donegal erupted for one of its trademark rallies in the top of the fifth.
Chris Nash ripped a one-out single,followed by Dale Houser’s RBI triple.
Kyle Hess lived on an error and Green knocked in his 16th RBI of the tourney with a hit to center. Connor Updegraff added an RBI single and Donegal had a 6-4 lead.
“I thought that was going to be our turning point,” Rapp said. “I thought that was going to get us over that hump.”
It was not to be.
Brandon led off the Mountville fifth with a single, eventually scoring on an throwing error by Houser.
Logan Givler singled to put two on and Mountville went to its patented running-bunting game.
Dillon Powers (3 for 4, two runs) laid down a sacrifice bunt and beat it out, driving in Ben Sahd.
“I was just trying to get the guy in,” said Powers who eventually scored on Donegal’s second error of the inning. “Make contact and get the guy in.”
Then it was Nick Boulanger’s turn to sacrifice and his safety squeeze delivered Givler, and the victory.
“I thought we had it” rued Rapp. “A couple bounces here and there, it could’ve been a different ballgame.”
“This team has never quit,” said Sauders. “We’ve played some games we wish we could have back, but we’ve won a couple games in the last inning.”
Count this as one of those games.