LNP Tournament is ready for its closeup

Annual rite of summer baseball gets underway with the Midget-Midget bracket

Sports Writer
The name has changed, but the game’s the same.

The New Era Midget Baseball Tournament, celebrating its 70th edition this year, is now the LNP Tournament, reflecting the changes that have taken place within Lancaster Newspapers.

What has not changed is the cream of local Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 baseball taking the field at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field and Clipper Magazine Stadium, competing for the championship of the area’s premier summer tournament.

A tournament that gets underway Thursday with the best-of-three qualifying series in the Midget-Midget (U-12) division. Winnowed from that series, the four LNP tourney competitors begin their title quest at Kunkle Field on July 6.

The Junior-Midget (U-14) division begins its best-of-three qualifiers on July 1, with the LNP J-M tourney starting at Kunkle on July 15.

The Midget (U-16) division of the LNP tourney begins July 22 with quarterfinal round games. All games in this age group are played at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

Following is a look at each of the four qualifying series which open Thursday at the home field of the higher seed before moving to the lower seed’s home.

If needed, a third game is played back at the higher seed’s park.

Mountville vs. Manheim

Seedings: The Indians are No. 1, VFW is No. 8.

How they got here: The Indians (17-1 league, 24-12-1 overall), winners of nine LNP titles, five in this century, won the Pacific Division of the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League’s Section One.

Manheim (10-8, 3012) placed fourth in the LCYBL Atlantic — five of the eight teams in the series hail from the Atlantic — and defeated Hempfield Black 12-3 in a one-game play-in.

Back from last year: For the Indians, Luke Fiore and Andrew Glenn. For VFW, Cam Eberly, Colton Book, Riley McGallicher and Logan Shull.

Head-to-head: Mountville won the only regular-season meeting, 12-4.

Top hitters/pitchers: Andrew Blough (9-2, 2.05 ERA), Devin Atkinson (9-2, 3.11) and Cameron Berger (4-1, 3 svs, 2.37) front an Indians pitching staff that goes nine deep.

Eberly, Drew Mylin and Clay Bedi each won five games for a VFW staff that also goes nine deep. VFW hit .370 as a team.

Warwick vs. Ephrata

Seedings: The Phillies are No. 2, the Dragons are No. 7.

How they got here: The Phillies (16-2, 40-4) won the LCYBL Atlantic. The Dragons (9-9, 9-9) finished fifth in the Atlantic and defeated the Manheim Twp. Thunder 4-1 in a onegame play in.

Back from last year: Cam Hess and Zach Shertzer are the lone returnees from the returning runner-up Phillies.

For the Dragons, Devan Eshleman, Parke Haws, Isiah Hornberger, Sam Knowles, Brendan Molchany and Braden Ritter.

Head-to-head: This is a rematch of last year’s qualifying series, taken by the Phillies in two games. In the 2015 regular season the Phils swept 7-1, and 2-1.

Top hitters/pitchers: Hess (.564), Evan Rohrbach (.548) and Shertzer (.530) pace the Phillies. Hornberger (.448), Molchany (.414), Zack Musser (.403) and Eshleman (.378) fuel the Dragons.

Solanco vs. SWS

Seedings: Solanco White is No. 3, the Cardinals are No. 6.

How they got here: White (15-2-1, 20-72) finished second to Mountville in the Pacific Division and dealt the Indians their only league loss. The Cards (11-7, 19-12) were 4.5 games behind Solanco.

Back from last year: Solanco’s Aiden Breckbill, Josiah Petersheim, J.T. Sheets and Garrett Worthington return from a squad that played in Section Two in 2014.

The Cards return Braedon Karpathios, Neil Eckman and Taso Kovack.

Head-to-head: Solanco swept the season series 12-3, 6-2.

Top hitters/pitchers: Worthington led the southenders with a .491 average, followed by Mike May (.487) Zedekiah Baker (.412) and Kyle Davis (.400). Baker (1.83 ERA) and May (2.38) led the staff with 39 and 37 innings pitched, respectively.

Braedon Karpathios (.485, 3 HR, 25 RBIs), Neil Eckman (.330-626) and Taso Kovack (.470, 18 RBIs, 27 stolen bases) lead the Cards in batting. Eckman (4-1, 3.72), Karpathios (5-4, 4.85), Kovack (3-2, 2 svs, 2.64) and Alex Knapp (4-2, 3.29) handle the pitching duties.

Manheim Twp. vs. Cocalico

Seedings: The Blue Streaks are No. 4, the Eagles are No. 5.

How they got here: The Blue Streaks (153, 15-3), the 2014 LNP M-M champions, finished a game behind Warwick in the Atlantic. Cocalico (12-6, 12-6) was third in the division, three games back of Township.

Back from last year: Nick Kurtz, Evan Clark, Colin Fitzgerald, Drew Sassaman and Caden Brubaker return for the Streaks.

Adam Rhoads is the only returning player from Cocalico’s 2014 playoff qualifying squad.

Head-to-head: Township swept the regularseason series 11-1, 17-2.

Top hitters/pitchers: For the Streaks, Kurtz (.650, 5 HR, 27 RBIs; 2-1, 3.13 ERA), Clark (.522; 1-1, 2.57), Fitzgerald (.463), Sassaman (.429) and Brubaker (2-0, 1.29).

The Eagles don’t keep stats, but list Rhoads, Aidan Sturtevant, Caleb Sturtevant, Gerald DeBalko and Tristan Current among the top hitters.

Ten Eagles make up a pitch-by-committee: Rhoads, the Sturtevants, DeBalko, Tristan Current, Joey Current, Luke Angstadt, Brycen Flinton, Garrett Janelli and Trey Rios.