Junior Midget tourney could be a Black affair

By Dave Bryne
New Era Correspondent

There’s no Angels, there’s plenty of Black and, by next Tuesday night, everybody may be feeling Blue as the Junior Midget Division of the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament gets underway tomorrow night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.

The 2006 Junior Midget champion Mountville Angels did not qualify for this year’s tournament, leaving the field open for any one of the eight teams who did qualify.

“Each of the eight teams are capable of putting together a three-game win streak,” said Mount Joy Blue coach Buzz Albert. “Most have seen each other in tournaments.”

Albert guides a team whose nucleus won a midget-midget title in 2005.

While Blue could be seen as an early-line favorite, it is just one of seven teams returning from last year’s JM tournament.

The tourney has three teams with Black in the title. In an unusual turn, two of those Black teams are from Hempfield Youth Baseball.

The thinking being there was so much talent in HYA’s 13-14 age group this season, two “A” teams were sent to the postseason with each deserving the title “Black”.

So, the Penn Manor League’s Hempfield Black returns for another shot joined by Hempfield Black from the Susquehanna League.

Also coming out of the Penn Manor League is Manheim Township Black, last year’s JM runnerup.

Rounding out the field are Rheems Gray, the Strasburg-Willow Street White Sox, Lititz VFW and the Manheim Lions.

Play begins tomorrow with MT Black meeting Manheim at 6 p.m. followed by the Susquehanna League’s Hempfield Black vs. Lititz, 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Friday night, Mount Joy Blue plays the Penn Manor’s Hempfield Black at 6 p.m. followed by Strasburg-Willow St. vs. Rheems in the second of two quarterfinal doubleheaders.

The semifinals are set for Monday night, beginning at 6 p.m., with the championship game Tuesday night at 7.

Following is a look at the teams in the tournament.

Manheim Township Black

COACH: Lew Chillot
LEAGUE: Penn Manor 1st seed, Section 1A and League champions.
RECORD: 24-2-1
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 2 (in 2003 and ’05. Also won in 1970 and ’72 while called the MT Cubs).
RETURNING PLAYERS: Darren Chillot 3b, Cameron Gallagher ss, Darren Yoder p/cf, Adam Yuninger p/1b, Jon Rieker 2b, Ben Woratyla c.
NOTABLE: “The strength of this team is its hitting,” says Chillot of a team with a .414 batting average. “This team has met all its goals, so far.”

Mount Joy Blue

COACH: Buzz Albert
LEAGUE: Susquehanna 1st seed and regular season champion.
RECORD: 21-7
RETURNING PLAYERS: Michael Pelton c, Jason Sauder p/3b, Kevin Newcomer p/1b, Taylor Nauman dh, Kyle Maurer dh.
NOTABLE: Blue fell to SWS in a play-in last year, after winning the M-M title in ’05.

Strasburg-Willow Street White Sox

COACH: Dan Herr
LEAGUE: Penn Manor 2nd seed.
RECORD: 20-9-1
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: .500 (in 2001. Pre-merger, the Willow St. White Sox won in 1989, 90 & 97. Strasburg won in 1975 and 93).
RETURNING PLAYERS: Ryan Berryman of/ss, Mitch Denlinger c.
NOTABLE: Nine players move up from SWS’s PM 1-AA entry.

Hempfield Black (SL)

COACH: Dan Brookhart
LEAGUE: Susquehanna 2nd seed and league tournament champion.
RECORD: 25-6
NOTABLE: Nine players return from the 2006 Penn Manor League 1-AA championship team.

Lititz VFW

COACH: Jeff High
LEAGUE: Penn Manor 3rd seed.
RECORD: 16-12-2
RETURNING PLAYERS: Deron Thompson c, is the only returning player from last year.
NOTABLE: “Our lineup has done well,” said High. “Of the nine starters, seven are hitting over .300, two of them are over .400.”

Rheems Gray

COACH: Herb Miller
LEAGUE: Susquehanna 3rd seed.
RECORD: 11-8
RETURNING PLAYERS: Andrew Good c, Alex Hopwood p/1b, Nicholas Jacoby ss, Nathan Miller 2b, Kirby Turner p/3b, Brett Vuxta p/1b.
NOTABLE: Gray led eventual champ Mountville 9-7 before losing 15-9 in a first-round contest.

Hempfield Black (LY)

COACH: Jerry Byers
LEAGUE: Penn Manor 4th seed; defeated Susquehanna 5th seed E-town Blue 15-5 in NET play-in game.
RECORD: 21-10-2
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 2 (1998 & 1999).
RETURNING PLAYERS: Blaise DeLuca 2b, Steven Fisher c, Ryan Knox ss, Jordan Neff p, Brent Pickell 3b.
NOTABLE: This edition of Black lost a 9-8 heartbreaker to E-town Blue in last year’s JM quarterfinals.

Manheim Lions

COACH: Bill Karns
LEAGUE: Susquehanna 4th seed; defeated the Penn Manor 5th seeded Ephrata Jaguars 4-2 in an NET play-in game.
RECORD: 10-15
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 5 (last in 1996).
RETURNING PLAYERS: Jonathon Karns p/ss, Bryan Fisher 2b, Seth Lachman p/of.
NOTABLE: The Lions return to Manheim’s familiar maroon and gray after competing under the Penryn banner last year.