Fast finish carries Township over Penryn

Cameron Gallagher fires for Manheim Township Black.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

As the last fans straggled out of Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field Friday night, a young Penryn fan was overheard lamenting, “I thought they were going to win.”

Penryn, a newcomer to NET action, took on Manheim Township Black in the second game of a NET J-M doubleheader at Kunkle Field.

The Penryn boys had Township (22-8-2) on the ropes through 4½ innings, but Township rallied for nine runs in the final two innings to pull out a 10-3 victory and advance to Monday’s semifinals.

The Black will face Lititz VFW, which defeated Strasburg-Willow Street by forfeit Friday night after it was determined SWS used an ineligible player, in the second game of a doubleheader at Kunkle Field.

In the first game, which is set for 6 p.m., the Mountville Angels will take on Elizabethtown Blue.

The title game is set for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Kunkle.

Friday night, Penryn starter Casey Ebersole handcuffed the normally potent Township lineup through four innings, limiting them to one unearned run on two hits.

Meanwhile, Penryn (17-15) had scratched three runs off MT starter Cameron Gallagher on a solo home run by Scott Weidle in the first, Dustin Fair’s RBI single in the third and Lowen Johnson’s run-scoring hit in the fifth.

Navigating the high wire, Gallagher avoided even larger trouble, stranding five other baserunners through four innings.

But when he followed Johnson’s hit by walking Tyler Whittemore on four pitches, Township manager Neil Savage lifted him for Darren Yoder.

Yoder ended the threat by retiring John Stoudt on a popup and pitched effectively in the sixth and seventh.

He picked up the victory when Township’s bats finally awoke from their slumber.

Black sent 17 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings on its way to nine runs.

“When they came off I told them I was proud of the way they stayed mentally tough through that,” said Savage. “We haven’t played a game in probably two weeks.”

Township slugged four hits and took advantage of two errors, four walks and four wild pitches in the uprising.

“That’s been our downfall all year long,” said Penryn manager Ted Shonk. “Every big game we have one inning where our defense falls apart.”

The key blows in both innings were delivered by first baseman Adam Yuninger.

Yuninger, who had hit the ball on the nose his first two times up but had nothing to show for it, hit the ball hard once more in the fifth, shooting a three-run homer over the fence in left center.

“I was pretty frustrated,” he admitted later. “I just wanted to hit the ball in play, not go down swinging or anything like that. I was just hoping it was high enough. I knew it had the distance.”

Yoder struck again in the sixth, smoking a two-run double off the fence in right-center to break the game open.

Prior to Yoder’s double, Penryn squandered a chance to get back in the game in the top of the inning.

Joey Brubaker singled to open the inning, but failed to advance and was forced at second on what should’ve been Jon Karn’s sharp single to right.

Instead, Karns’ hit became a fielders choice, and a missed opportunity when Ebersole doubled Karns to third. Both were stranded when Yoder struck out Weidle.

“I felt if we could get on top, we could stay on top,” Shonk said. “We were maintaining the lead for the longest period of time. Until the wheels fell off in the fifth.”

Penryn shortstop Joey Brubaker makes a throw to first.

Manheim Township’s Casey Ebersole puts the tag on Penryn’s Casey Ebersole after taking a high throw at first base.