Strasburg/Willow Street coach Dan Herr summed it up succinctly when he observed, “They’re the No. 1 seed for a purpose.”
“They,” being the Hempfield Black, had just defeated his White Sox 9-4, rallying for six runs in a fifth-inning bat around plus three, to advance to the semifinals of the New Era Tournament’s Junior-Midget division Monday night at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
Hempfield will face Manheim Township Black tonight at 7, back at Kunkle, for the Junior-Midget title. MT Black defeated the Manheim Lions, 9-3, in Monday’s second semifinal.
Derek Walter ripped a first-pitch, 2-run single to the fence in center field, plating the go-ahead runs, to ignite the game-winning rally for Hempfield.
“I was just looking for my right pitch right there,” said Walter, “hoping to drove it out of here. It was a fastball, right down the plate.”
Black stroked five hits and enjoyed the benefit of three walks and an error, chasing SWS starter Dan Eshleman and his relief, Collin Eckman.
Tyler Walters (2 for 3, 3 RBIs) kept the scoring rolling with a two-run single and Jon Peterson’s two-run hit capped the outburst.
Peterson (3 for 4) picked up the win in relief of starter Grant Conway, throwing two innings of hitless ball.
“They got the bats going,” said Black coach Eric Peterson. “Everyone contributed. (Walter and Walters) both had big hits. And big days! You’re never comfortable. You want more runs.”
The Sox broke on top on Collin Shank’s RBI single and David Greenwood’s solo home run in the first inning.
“Hempfield has strong pitching, we knew that coming in,” said Herr. “They had only given up 38 runs in league play,” Herr noted. “We got four, we played ’em before and got four.”
Hempfield got one back in the bottom of the inning on John Beck’s RBI single, but Devon Weiant scored Eshleman in the fourth inning to restore the Sox’ two-run advantage.
Black tied the game in the fourth on Walters’ RBI groundout and Conway’s single, but SWS went back ahead on Cameron Enck’s sac fly to right in the top of the fifth.
As in a previous encounter with Hempfield this season, SWS could not bring the lead home.
“We knew we could hang with ’em,” said Herr. But, on this night, hanging would not be enough.
In the nightcap, Manheim Township Black slugged the Manheim Lions 9-3 to advance to tonight’s all-Black championship contest.
Township bludgeoned 13 hits — six for extra bases — Ryan Dornes homered twice and Kevin Bushong bashed a monstrous home run to eliminate the defending champion Lions.
Dornes went the distance to pick up the victory, allowing four hits and one earned run.
It was not an easy evening as he threw 114 pitches, but despite running perpetual deep counts, he finished with just two walks and 11 strikeouts.
An error on leadoff batter Jared Siegrist’s grounder opened the gate for Manheim as Justin Flanagan dropped a two-run single into the right field corner.
Township got a run back in its half of the first as Dornes drilled a solo blast out of dead center field.
Mark Kambic’s RBI double tied the game in the third and Bushong quickly untied it, sending a prodigious, towering three-run homer over the scoreboard in left field.
Preston Kimmel’s sacrifice fly plated Blake Reiff with the Lions’ last run, but Black was far from done.
Dornes stroked a two-run, opposite-field homer to left center in the fourth, giving Township a 7-3 lead.
Nolan Sach’s bases-loaded walk in the fifth and Ben Wirth’s RBI groundout in the sixth capped Black’s offensive outburst.