New Era Correspondent
Over the course of this season Hempfield Black has earned the reputation for scoring one big knockout inning, usually at a do-or-die time.
Tuesday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field they took the knockout inning to another level.
Hempfield scored 12 runs in the third inning en route to an 18-2 pasting of an Ephrata Phillies team that really wasn’t that bad.
The victory vaults Black (19-8) into next Monday’s Junior-Midget semifinals of the New Era Baseball Tournament , where they will face Mount Joy Blue (19-8) in the nightcap at 8 p.m.
The opener at 6:15 p.m. matches the West Lampeter Pioneers (25-1) against Lititz VFW (35-1).
Mount Joy’s win in the first game of Tuesday night’s doubleheader also came via the 10-run mercy rule with a 12-1 defeat of Denver.
The game was played in a crisp 4 1/2 hours, and Wes Rineer remarked that the two games were the longest five-inning games he’s ever umpired.
It was a determined Hempfield Black squad that showed up Tuesday night and it quickly went to work, banging out 21 hits.
“We hit very well,” coach Skip Walters said. “It may be our best offensive game of the year, as a matter of fact.
“It’s more of an attitude. The kids came determined to do something here tonight. They wanted to put the bat on the ball and that’s what they did.”
Winning pitcher Jason Enoch led the hit parade, going 4-for-5 from the leadoff hole, driving in three runs and scoring three.
Other hitting stars included Josh Jones and Shaun Thomas, who each went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Reaching base all four times he batted, Thomas recycled the lineup from out of the No. 9 hole.
Multi-hit games were also turned in by Trever Wetzel (2-for-4) and David Cornwall (2-for-3, 3 RBIs). And Andy Grumbrecht came off the bench to double home a run in the midst of Hempfield’s big inning and also singled in three at-bats.
Grumbrecht got in the game when starting shortstop Dan Walters injured himself while trying to get down a sacrifice bunt. After fouling the bunt off his hand, Walters successfully executed a suicide squeeze bunt and reached first on the play at the plate.
That spring-boarded Black’s 17-man bat-around and Walters eventually scored before leaving the stadium to seek medical attention. Skip Walters suspects the finger is broken and if it is he may have to revise his pitching plans, as his son is also one of his starting pitchers.
The happy recipient of this run support was Enoch, a first-year player, who walked four, struck out 10 and gave up an RBI single to Ross Buckwalter (2-for-3) and an opposite-field home run to Derrick Dull. Losing pitcher Jon Wechter’s lead-off infield single was the only other hit mustered by the Phillies (26-9).
Mount Joy took the upper hand in the opener, but seemingly couldn’t put Denver (17-2) away.
Dan Myers walked three, struck out 10 and allowed one hit – Kyle Stover’s leadoff home run in the fourth inning.
Myers had trouble locating his fastball, but used a nasty bender to stay on top and got a little defensive help along the way in the second inning.
Rightfielder Eric Germer gunned down Josh Tangert at first on what should’ve been a routine line single to right. After a strikeout, first baseman Shawn Beamenderfer robbed Dan Tangert of a hit when he gloved Tangert’s liner.
“There’s not much to say. I just went out and threw my best and my team hit for me,” offered Myers. “That’s pretty much it.”
Blue pushed across two runs in the first inning without a hit, then rapped out four hits – including an RBI double by Rodney Garber and Justin Kaley’s base hit – to score three more times in the second.
A wild pitch brought home the sixth run and Justin Reese (2-for-4) doubled home Kaley (2-for-2, 2 RBI) with the seventh run.
Denver’s Dennis Carvel issued two of his five walks to start the fifth inning, but just as quickly got two outs. He wouldn’t record another.
“Denny is really effective when he’s throwing strikes,” said his coach, Barry Gehman. “Most of the trouble he’s gotten into this year is when he gets behind hitters and starts lobbing to find the strike zone. You can’t do that against this team. They just knocked the cover off the ball.”
Two hits, an error and a hit batter set the table for Myers, who leaped out of his shoes to try and drive home the decisive twelfth run, pulling the pitch way foul instead. Collecting himself, he calmly drove the next offering into center to end the game.
“We did enough to win the game and advance,” said Blue coach Greg Schneider, “and I guess that’s what you’ve got to do.”