By Jeff Reinhart
New Era Sports Writer
Lititz is out to defend its New Era Midget championship, and in its quarterfinal game Thursday night in Clipper Magazine Stadium, the Oddfellows certainly played like a team on a mission.
J.T. Garner had three hits and knocked in three runs and Dan Ansel, Tyler May and Tyler Hill drove in two runs apiece as Lititz derailed Donegal 14-2 in a game that was called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
Lititz scored eight runs in the top of the fifth to ice the game.
Up next for the Oddfellows is Manheim Township Black, which held off Bears Blue 8-6 in Thursday’s nightcap when starting pitcher Andrew Peiffer – who pitched two perfect innings to open the game – reentered with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, and got Bears Blue’s Matt Frederick to bounce into a game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
Thanks to the re-entry rule, Peiffer earned a save in a game he started.
“Didn’t even know you could do that,” he said, smiling.
Trailing 8-4 heading into the seventh, Bears Blue loaded the bases with one out after scoring a pair of runs on three walks, a hit batter and an error.
“It got a little closer than we were hoping there,” MT Black coach John Dochterman said, breathing a sigh of relief.
Lititz (18-2 overall) will take on MT Black (15-4) on Sunday back at the Clip, 20 minutes after the other semifinal, which features Strasburg/Willow Street (11-1-1) against St. Leo (8-5-1) at 4 p.m.
The title game is set for Monday at 7 p.m., also at the Clip.
“We’re determined to win this again,” said Garner, who went 3-for-3, scored a pair of runs, had an RBI single to give Lititz a 3-1 lead in the second and a two-run single to give the Oddfellows a 6-2 cushion in the fourth.
Lititz broke the game wide open with eight runs in the fifth, highlighted by two-run singles by Ansel and May and Kyle Keener’s RBI triple.
“You don’t expect to do that in the New Era Tournament, but we’ve been hitting the ball well all season,” Lititz coach Frank Camera said.
“The kids know what’s at stake here. They know it’s their title to defend, and they’d love that feeling again.”
In fact, that’s been the Oddfellows’ catch phrase this season. Camera said he presented each player newspaper clips from last year’s championship run at the start of this season, challenging them to remember the feeling.
Austin Klinger went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and scored two runs, Mark Stuckey walked twice, swiped a base and scored two runs, and Skylar
Gingrich singled, stole a base and scored a run for Lititz, which scored more than enough runs for starter Adam Zipko, who earned the win after allowing just two runs on five hits in four innings.
“They brought their bats and we didn’t,” Donegal coach Ryan Hamilton said with a shrug.
Donegal’s Nick Zito led off the bottom of the first with a long solo homer over the patio deck in right. That shot tied the game at 1.
But Lititz scored two in the second and never looked back. Jarred Dettinger added an RBI single for Donegal’s final run in the second.
Starter Tyler Squibbs suffered the loss, allowing eight earned runs in four innings, as Donegal finished its season 8-7.
Meanwhile, MT Black jumped on Bears Blue with a four-spot in the first, capped off by Peiffer’s two-run single. He went 3-for-4 to spark the offense.
“Getting up four early really opened the door,” said Dochterman, whose team pounded out 14 hits. “That was big right away in the first.”
MT Black tacked on two more runs in the third on Good’s two-run triple, and went ahead 8-2 in the fifth thanks to three hits – including Good’s RBI single – and an error.
Bears Blue rallied with two in the sixth – on RBI singles by Jordan Eberly and Nico Givens – and two more in the seventh before Peiffer was summoned to slam the door.
“When it came down to it, they made good plays at the end of the game,” Bears Blue coach Rick Givens said. “But hey, we were down 8-2, and got it back to 8-6 and had the bases loaded with one out.”
Mark Jones earned the win for MT Black after allowing just one hit while striking out four in three innings.
After Bears Blue got to relievers Chris Thorsen and Andrew Kelly, Peiffer earned the save.