In baseball, one play can make the difference between a win and a loss.
In baseball, one play can get buried in a deluge of plays.
Both axioms held true Monday evening as the Midget Division of the 65th New Era Tournament got underway with victories by Strasburg/Willow Street Blue and Manheim VFW.
Manheim rightfielder Jason Reiff and catcher Mitch Burkholder teamed to gun down Cole Martin at home with the potential tying run and VFW went on to defeat Solanco 4-1 in the nightcap of a quarterfinal doubleheader at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
In the opener, SWS’s Ray Lopez led an 18-hit attack, going 3 for 4 with 5 RBI, and SWS Blue bludgeoned Comet Blue, 16-3.
SWS and Manheim return to Clipper Wednesday in the first game of a semifinal twinbill, set for 5:15 p.m.
In Monday’s nightcap, Manheim (11-6) held a 2-1 lead going into Solanco’s bottom of the fifth inning as Gray (9-5-1) found hits hard to come by.
Manheim’s Ryan Wilson was on his game.
“He kept us off balance,” said Gray coach Dave Planamento. “We hit the ball hard, (but) at them.”
Hitting corners and keeping the ball away from the happy zone, Wilson held Solanco to three hits through four innings, two by leadoff man Joe Welk.
“I was on tonight. I came out pretty strong,” said Wilson.
Welk’s second hit of the night started out as a simple single to right, leading off the third inning. However, running like a scalded rabbit, Welk turned it into a triple, then scored on Hans Herr’s RBI groundout.
There it stood until Cole Martin led off the fifth by tripling to deep centerfield.
With Martin standing 90 feet from tying the game, Wilson collected himself.
“I was a little nervous,” said Wilson. “But I just tried to stay strong, stay calm.”
Zach Bechtold got the first shot at scoring Martin and ripped a low line drive towards right. Right into the glove of first baseman Josh Good.
Matt Murray stepped in and skied the first pitch he got from Wilson towards right field.
Deep enough to score Martin on the tag?
“The ball was pretty high and I didn’t know how to judge it with the lights,” Reiff recalled. “I went to a spot where I thought it would land, got behind the ball so I could get some (throwing) momentum (and) got a lot of backspin on the throw.”
“It was a good, strong throw,” said Wilson, who, backing up home, had a great view of the play as it unfolded.
The throw came in on a line, one-hopped to catcher Mitch Burkholder, who turned to meet Martin.
“I thought (Martin) was going to be a lot closer to the plate,” said Burkholder. “I just tried to pick it and tag (him).” Done, and done.
“(Reiff) had to throw a strike,” said Planamento. “It was a great throw, the catcher made a nice play and picked it.”
A real momentum turner as Manheim added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings on an error and Ryan Smith’s sacrifice fly.
VFW broke on top as Dustin Herbert and Trey Eberly each hit first pitches for singles and Jeremie Patrick walked.
Wilson plated Herbert with a fielder’s choice and Good (3-for-3) singled in Patrick.
It was enough for Wilson, who got help when he needed it.
There was no helping Comet Blue as SWS strafed four pitchers for 16 runs and 18 hits.
The offensive outburst was welcome as SWS starter Pete Darrenkamp struggled to find himself in the early going.
SWS (13-4) jumped out 4-0 on Lopez’s two-run single and a two-run triple by Adam Gross.
Comet Blue (9-8) got two back in the bottom of the first as Darrenkamp, who walked three and hit a batter in the first two innings, struggled. Brandon Bowers singled in Austin Richwine and Tim Harris scored on a double-play ball by Will Welsh.
Colton Stoltzfus knocked in SWS’s fifth run, answered by Welsh’s infield RBI single. Down 6-3, the Comets were as close as they would get.
SWS Blue scored three in the fourth on Lopez’s two-run single and a wild pitch. Three more scored in the fifth on an error, a sac fly from Lopez and Matt McCrudden’s infield single. In the middle of all this was Nate Shank, who went 3 for 4 with 4 runs scored.
Pinch hitter Ethan Moore and Dan Neff each singled in runs and two more scored on an error as WS closed out the sixth inning. Darrenkamp, who scattered three hits the rest of the way, closed out the rout.