New Era Correspondent
And on the fourth day, the New Era Tournament delivered a Classic.
Hempfield Black’s Phil Harnick threw a no-hitter in the first game of Tuesday’s Junior-Midget quarterfinal doubleheader at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field, only to be upstaged by a pair of hard-throwing lefties in the nightcap.
Lititz VFW’s Bobby Thompson bested Manheim Township Black’s Dane Yoder in a duel of 3-hitters, as VFW prevailed 2-1 on Sam Grube’s safety sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh.
In the opener, Harnick walked two, struck out 13 and knocked in three of Hempfield’s 12 runs with a homer and a groundout as Black cruised 12-2 in a game shortened to 4 1/2 innings by the 10-run rule.
Black and VFW will meet Monday night in the second game of a J-M semifinal twinbill at Kunkle. The Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox and Safe Harbor Lions mix it up in the opener.
Harnick was just too much for the Cubs as he completed his first-ever summer-ball no-hitter.
“I threw a perfect game in the Fallball league,” he said, “but other than that…”
He knew it could be a special night before he ever took the field.
“(Warming up) I felt like everything was going,” he said.
“He was prepared,” said Hempfield coach Jeff Unton. “He had three pitches going and when he’s throwing all three for strikes the hitters don’t know what coming next.
“His fastball (which registered in the high 70s) was probably as good as it’s been. He just went right after the hitters and challenged them.”
The Cubs (16-4) had only four runners reach base, two on walks and two on wild pitch strikeouts on balls in the dirt. Only Reuben Cater, one of two strikeout victims to reach base, got as far as third.
“Usually I have better control of my curveball, my offspeed pitches,” said Harnick, “but they swung at it tonight.”
Black (25-5) did a lot of swinging, and connecting. Kyle Enoch (2-for-3, 3RBI, 3 runs) and Geoff Dornes (2-for-2, 3RBI, 3 runs) paced the Black attack and Zack Morgan added a homer in Black’s six-run third inning that put the game out of reach.
In the time it took Mt. Joy Blue and Safe Harbor to complete one inning on Monday, Lititz and Township (22-11) had zipped through five innings Tuesday night in the nightcap.
Yoder and Thompson matched no-hitters through three innings and VFW (21-6) broke the ice on Evan Scheffey’s single up the middle in the fourth.
Rich Berkey followed that with a single to left and both runners stole over into scoring position, but Yoder ended the threat by striking out Steve Sellner and getting Jason Wagner on a bunt pop up.
Cody Hostetter, who walked, got as far as second with two out in the fifth but was stranded when Thompson popped to short.
Meanwhile Thompson, who plunked Andy Dochterman on the hand in the first inning, retired 15 straight before Steve Martin laid down a beauty of a bunt up the third base line in the sixth for Township’s first hit.
Martin beat the throw and caught a huge break when Scheffey’s snap throw to first sailed into the right field corner. Martin took third on the play, but was still there one out later.
That left it to Dochterman, who hit a grounder to second. Joey Irvin knocked the ball down, but couldn’t get the handle before Dochterman crossed first, and Martin home with the first run of the game.
Yoder needed just six outs for Township to advance, but he was clearly not the same pitcher he had been earlier, when his fastball topped out in the mid 80s.
He had walked only one through the first four innings, needing just 44 pitches. Over the next two innings he threw 37 pitches and walked three as he lost control of his curveball.
“Early in the game they were swinging (when ahead in the count),” said Township coach Jim Lilley. “They did get a little more selective at the end of the game and (Dane) got up in the strikezone.”
Yoder issued his fifth walk of the night to Chris Brubaker to lead off the seventh inning, and with one out Todd Wilson tried to bunt Brubaker over. Third baseman Mike Beatty charged the ball, overran it, and threw late to first.
“Physical errors inevitably, unfortunately, are part of the game,” observed Lilley.
Thompson, 0-for-3 to this point, singled up the middle to score Brubaker and tie the game.
“I didn’t want to be the last out,” he said. (Actually, he could’ve only been the second.) “I just got a good pitch to hit and took it up the middle.
“I was just thinking about winning. I didn’t want to go home yet.”
Wilson was 75 feet from home, taking third on Thompson’s single, and Thompson stole over to second to put Township in dire straights.
VFW coach Larry Wagner gave the next hitter, Grube, the safety squeeze sign twice.
Grube took ball one, then stepped in again.
“I was looking for a high, outside pitch I could (push) down the first base line,” he said.
He got one on the next pitch and bunted the ball past Yoder to Dochterman at second base. Dochterman threw to first while Wilson crossed the plate with the winning run.
“Thompson outpitched our hitting,” Lilley said. “That sounds awful simplistic, (but) he was better than we were. You get in the car and say, “We played as well as we could. We lost by a run.’ There’s really no answer beyond that.”