New Era Correspondent
Among the dugout chatter you’ll likely hear at a baseball game is this: “Come on, have a day!”
Brad Garber had a day Thursday night, going 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBI and two runs scored. Included in his offensive outbreak was a 3-run homer and a 2-run single.
His heroics highlighted E-town Blue’s 9-8 victory over Hempfield Black in the first game of a Junior-Midget quarterfinal, Thursday night at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.
The win earns Blue (21-7) a semifinal date with the Mountville Angels, Monday night at 6 p.m. The Angels overpowered Rheems Gray, 15-9 in Thursday’s nightcap.
Trailing 8-5 going into the bottom of the sixth, E-town struck for four runs to claim victory.
Mitch Light led off the inning with a solo home run to center field. Derek Solomon lived on an error and Danny Secord walked to put two runners on with Garber in the on-deck circle.
The right guy in the right place at the right time, according to Blue coach John Fosnot.
“If I had to pick a player, it would’ve been him. Bradley hits the freakin’ ball. He’s only struck out twice all year.”
Garber got ahead 3-and-1, took a strike, then fouled off two pitches from Black starter Jordan Neff.
Then Neff came in with a fastball and Garber turned on it, scalding it past firstbaseman Steve McGettigan and into rightfield, scoring Solomon and Secord to tie the game.
“(Right now) It looks like (the ball) is coming in 50 miles an hour,” he said.
Garber then scored the winning run on Mitch Weidman’s single into left.
Prior to E-town’s winning rally, the game see-sawed back and forth as both teams swung the bats well.
Hempfield (16-15-2) held leads of 3-0, 7-5 and 8-5.
After rallying to tie the game at 3, E-town took a 5-3 advantage with two runs in the third, but didn’t lead again until its rally in the sixth.
Everything Black hit in the first two innings seemed to be just out of the reach of the E-town fielders as Steve Feister (3-for-4) knocked in single runs in the first and second and Brian Mannino added an RBI hit in the first.
E-town got it all back on one swing. Tyler Clark singled to start the second inning and, with two out, Danny Secord (2-for-2, 2 runs, 1 RBI) singled.
Then Garber lined the first pitch from Neff over the rightfield fence for a 3-run blast.
“When I first hit it, I knew I hit it hard,” he said, “but I thought it would hit the fence. I started to run, but when I saw it go over, I just started to jog.”
With E-town up 5-3, Hempfield took advantage of some loose play to regain the lead in the fifth.
Black loaded the bases on a walk, a bunt single and a hit batter, then Brent Pickel chopped a hit over the mound, scoring Mannino.
McGettigan came around as Weidman, who had fielded the ball between the mound and short, threw it away at first.
Hung out to dry when Ben Byers missed a bunt, Sam Dissinger trotted home from third when catcher Travis Epply’s throw went into left field. Pickel scored right behind him on the play.
“We played poor defensively,” admitted Fosnot, “but fortunately we were able to win this game.”
Hempfield added another run on Ryan Knox’s bases-loaded infield single in the top of the sixth, putting Hempfield six outs away from advancement.
But Garber’s day wasn’t over.