Junior Midget Tournament opens with a barrage of home runs

Adam Yunginger pitches for Manheim Township.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

Karnac the Magnificent will now divine the answers having never before seen the question.

Wrigley Field, on days when the wind is blowing out.
Citizens Bank Park, any day.

Kunkle Field, when the junior-midgets set up shop.

The question?

Name three baseball venues where one will see a lot of home runs.

In the just-completed New Era Midget-Midget Tournament, Mount Joy’s youth baseball mecca played like the Grand Canyon.

But Thursday night, on the first night of the Junior-Midget tourney, Kunkle’s confines looked more like a phone booth.

Ten home runs flew out of the friendly confines last night, eight in a second-game slugfest between Lititz VFW and the Susquehanna League’s Hempfield Black.

Though Hempfield hit only three home runs to VFW’s five, the Black still emerged with a 13-10 victory in the second game of a quarterfinal doubleheader.

In the opener, Jon Rieker hit a pair of three-run homers to pace Manheim Township Black over the Manheim Lions, 11-1, in a game shortened to 4½ innings by the ten-run rule.

It took Township a little while to get rolling, but once it did the runs came quickly.

“I thought we were a little tight the first two innings,” said Township coach Lew Chillot.

But Township exploded for six runs in the third inning and four in the fourth, paced by Rieker’s power.

His first round-tripper, a shot over the rightfield fence, plated Cameron Gallagher (2-for-2, 3 runs), who had singled, and Adam Yuninger (1-for-1, 2 runs) who was hit by a pitch.

In the fourth, Gallagher and Yuninger walked to open the inning and Rieker sent a high, towering blast over the left field fence, making it a 10-1 game.

“I kind of inside-outed a fastball,” Rieker said of his first homer. “It wasn’t as good (a swing) as the second one.”

Hitting behind Rieker, Robert Lehman singled twice and scored runs on a wild pitch and fielding error.

The explosion turned a tight 1-1 tie into a laugher, giving Yuninger, the winning pitcher, more than enough support. He allowed just one run and struck out nine in four innings.

They’re the best team we’ve faced this year,” said Manheim coach Bill Karns. “Easily.”

In the second game, neither team wasted any time in getting the bats going. The first of eight home runs left the park just three batters in.

“Not exactly what either team expected,” said Hempfield coach Dan Brookhart.

Lititz’s Deron Thompson slammed a solo homer to left in the top of the first to give Lititz a 1-0 lead.

It was also a harbinger of the way the four-bagger barrage would go. VFW’s five blasts yielded eight RBI. Hempfield’s three shots brought in nine.

“We out-homered them,” said Lititz coach Jeff High. “We just didn’t have our guys on.”

Hempfield out-hit Lititz, 16-12, and never stopped hitting the ball, going down in order only in the sixth inning.

Hempfield put together five hits in the bottom of the first inning to go up 4-1.

Lititz batted around in the second and tied the game, scoring three runs on Justin Nolt’s solo homer, Tyler Wentzel’s RBI double and losing pitcher Jordan Donmoyer’s RBI groundout.

One inning later, Hempfield batted around to go ahead for good.
Black loaded the bases on the first of two doubles by Luke Gatti (4-for-4, 4 runs, 1 RBI) and walks to Doug Totaro and Michael Brookhart.

Wildness plagued Donmoyer all evening. He fastball was so lively it continually ran out of the strike zone, causing him to walk five, hit two batters (actually the same batter, Nick Oberholtzer, two times) and throw two wild pitches.

With the bases loaded, number nine hitter Derek Totaro reached out and poked a grand slam over the fence in right to put Hempfield back on top, 8-4.

The next inning Black batted around once again, scoring three on Dan Hostetter’s three-run shot to left.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” said High. “They fought back, didn’t give up and they didn’t sit on their lead.”

“I like the way our team kept its composure,” said Brookhart. “After every inning I’d say, ‘Boys, keep the throttle down. We’ve got to keep scoring.’ And they were able to do that.”

Lititz answered in the fifth with a 3-run homer from Wentzel and a solo shot by Donmoyer.

The homers came back-to-back on consecutive pitches from winning pitcher Doug Totaro.

The homerun ball to Donmoyer was Totaro’s last pitch of the night as Ben Peachey came on to get the last out of the fifth inning.

Lititz would touch Peachey for three hits in 21-e innings, including a 2-run homer from Donmoyer (4-for-5, 2 runs, 4 RBI) in the seventh.

But that was just an echo of a 2-run shot by Doug Totaro (2-for-2, 3 runs, 3 RBI) off reliever Kris Cullen in the fifth.

Manheim Township’s Jon Rieker gets congratulations from coach Lew Chillot after one of his two home runs against Manheim.

Jon Rieker celebrates with teammates after his second home run.

Justin Nolt scores for Lititz VFW against Hempfield.

Tyler Wentzel is met by teammates after his home run.