The waiting, as Tom Petty once sang, is the hardest part.
Especially if you are a 13-14 year-old baseball player in the Manheim system.
Young men like Colin Fry, Kyle Winters, Ben Bomberger and company have waited two long years. Two long years to erase the bitter memory of New Era Tournaments past.
The central core of the 2010 Manheim Junior-Midget Lions was also the nucleus of the 2008 Manheim VFW squad that played for the New Era Tournament Midget-Midget title.
A squad that squandered a 4-0 lead and lost to the SWS Cardinals, 6-4, all six runs coming in an unending nightmare, 12-man fourth-inning bat-around.
This moment was what the Lions had pointed for, the moment they hoisted the champions trophy. A trophy earned with a 9-2 victory over Lititz VFW, Tuesday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.
“These boys had certainly circled this one on their calendar (from) two years ago,” said winning coach Lowell Fry. “There was a feeling of denial and a feeling of rightful ownership didn’t fall that night.”
“What was really driving us,” said winning pitcher Colin Fry, who overcame early-season shoulder tendinitis and went 2-0 in the tournament, “we lost it in ’08 and we thought we deserved it. This year we got the job done.”
Fry got the job done, pitching the first five innings, walking one, striking out nine and allowing four hits — one Travis Reapsome’s two-run homer in the fourth inning. For the tournament, he gave up four hits in nine innings and two runs. He walked one and struck out 14.
“Colin worked awfully hard to get back for this tournament,” said Lowell Fry, “and our pitching staff gave up two runs in three games. What more can you ask?”
Defeating the SWS White Sox, the J-M version of the Cardinals, in the semifinals was a small measure of satisfaction and, in the game they’d pointed to for two years, the Lions came alive.
Winters went 3 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI. Bomberger was 2 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs, both coming on a home run blasted over left center. Andrew Bucher, yet another of the survivors, drove in three runs with a two-run single and a deep sac fly to center.
Manheim jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.
“This was our dream,” said Winters, who sparked the rally with a leadoff double. “We came out and played with a lot of passion tonight.”
Blake Reiff, a 13-year old who endured two M-M championship game losses, was hit by a pitch from starter Adam Rohrbach before Colin Fry knocked in Winters with a ground out.
Damon Crouse lived on an error, scoring Reiff, and Bomberger drilled his blast over the fence.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world (as) I saw that ball leave,” said Bomberger. “I had just fouled off a 2-2 curveball. It was a ‘gimmie’ fastball and I took care of it.”
Taking care of Rohrbach, who lasted two-thirds of an inning.
“We didn’t get the start we wanted,” said VFW coach Jeff High. “I’ve said of this team before, we’re a good team when we’re (playing from) ahead. When we get behind, we get a little frustrated.”
Manheim increased the frustration, reaching reliever Ryan Braundmeier for three runs in the third and two more in the fourth.
Those runs answered Reapsome’s homer, leaving no doubt as to the outcome.
“Hats off to Manheim,” said High. “They out-played us and they deserve to win.”