BY DAVE BYRNE
Having walked through the valley of the shadow of death — or, at least, the valley of the shadow of losing — Garden Spot found a new lease on life.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday night, the Spartans rallied to put away Manheim VFW, ultimately claiming a 3-2 victory in the first game of an LNP Tournament Midget quarterfinal doubleheader at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
The Lititz Oddfellows outran Donegal 6-2 in Thursday’s nightcap to round out Friday night’s semifinal foursome.
Manheim (8-7-1) had taken an early lead on Bryce Eberly’s RBI single in the first inning. But Garden Spot (14-2) surged in front in the fourth inning as an error, a sacrifice bunt and a hit batsman set the table.
Connor Finkey lived on an infield single to shortstop and both Anthony Torreulla and Jordan Petersheim scored as Hunter Bruckhart overthrew first base trying to get Finkey.
VFW got that right back the next half-inning as Nate Loser reached on Brock Kauffman’s error, eventually scoring on Tyler Simon’s infield out.
Spot went to work in the bottom of the sixth as Torreulla hit a leadoff single and Josh Leid drew a one-out walk. Sacrificed to second, Torreulla took third on a wild pitch and scored the game-winner on Finkey’s infield single to second.
Turning point: Manheim loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter Caleb Weaver lifted a fly ball to right field and, as Nate Myers settled under the fly, B.J. Fisher tagged at third.
But, his view of Myers’ catch blocked by the field ump, Weaver missed the window to score. Winning pitcher Ryan Smith struck out the next two batters to escape unscathed.
Stars of the game: Torreulla (2 for 3, two runs) and Finkey (2 for 3), who were in the middle of both of Spot’s scoring rallies.
Key statistic: Manheim left 12 on base.
LITITZ ODDFELLOW 6, DONEGAL 2
With hits in short supply, the Lititz Oddfellows and Donegal created scoring opportunities when — and how — they could.
The Oddfellows (14-2) created, and capitalized, on more of them Thursday night at Clipper Magazine Stadium, paving the way to the victory and a spot in Friday night’s LNP Tournament Midget semifinals.
With his team trailing 2-0, Dawson Magar walked for Donegal (9-6-1), leading off the fourth inning, was wild-pitched to second and stole third before coming home on a wild pitch. Lititz retorted with a run in the bottom of the inning on Ethan Norman’s RBI single and added two more runs in the fifth on Nate Hess’ RBI triple to the right-field corner and Evan Clark’s sacrifice fly foul out to right.
Losing pitcher Conner Green doubled to lead off the Donegal sixth, scoring on a wild pitch after a ground out, but Lititz restored its four-run edge as Tyler Hess scampered home in the home sixth on a wild pitch by reliever Kyle Hess.
Turning point: Lititz broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third. Josh Weachter stroked a one-out single and Bryce Zimmerman reached on an error on shortstop Dale Houser. Tyler Martin plated Weachter with a single and Zimmerman scored on winning pitcher Zach Peters’ fielder’s choice in the middle of the infield.
Star of the game: Peters limited Donegal to three hits in a route-going performance. He walked five and struck out five.
Key statistic: Peters got eight outs on ground balls, four on popups and three on fly balls. He also got a double play when Tyler Snyder lined out to Clark, who threw over to first to double off courtesy runner Ryan Buckius.