By Keith Schweigert
Special to the New Era
When Manheim and Safe Harbor looked across the field at one another in the first game of Saturday’s New Era Tournament Junior-Midget semifinal doubleheader, they had to feel a sense of deja vu.
Manheim and Safe Harbor have squared off several times over the past few years, usually in the championship game of tournament play.
In 1993, several Manheim and Safe Harbor players were part of the New Era Midget-Midget finals, a game that Manheim won.
On Saturday, Manheim and Safe Harbor renewed their rivalry at sun-baked Kunkle Field in Mount Joy. This time, Manheim prevailed again, 13-3, behind a stellar all-around performance by pitcher Matt Mumma and great team defense.
Manheim will face Mount Joy Blue in the finals. Mount Joy was a 12-2 winner over Willow Street in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Mumma went the distance for Manheim (29-5), holding Safe Harbor (28-6) to three runs on eight hits. Although he was threatened several times, his teammates made several key stops behind him to get the righthander out of trouble.
Mumma also provided the spark for Manheim offensively, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs.
“Matt came through,” said Manheim coach Jeff Mumma. “He had the big stick for us, and he did great on the mound. He kept pitching strikes, which is hard to do in this heat.”
Manheim turned what had been a close game into a blowout with a seven-run sixth inning. Mumma sparked the rally when he slugged the second of his two home runs, this one a three-run shot that put the Lions up 9-3. Scoring before Mumma were Mike Kernisky and Casey Bires, who hit back-to-back singles to set the table.
After Mumma’s blast, losing pitcher Paul Salamh gave up a walk to Jeff Smoker and a single to Mark Bell before being pulled in favor of reliever Chris Stark.
But Stark faltered as well, giving up a walk to Tanner Strickler to load the bases. Shane Ecenrode followed with a two-run single to make it 11-3.
Strickler eventually scored on a groundout by Joe Kenneff, while Ecenrode was plated on an RBI single by pinch-hitter B.J. Kauffman.
Manheim took a 3-0 lead early in the third inning via the long ball. Mumma started the rally with his first home run, this one a two-run shot to left. After Smoker flied out, Bell followed with a solo home run.
In the top of the third, it appeared that Safe Harbor was going to strike first when Mumma walked the first two batters to put runners on first and second.
But after Jeremy Morrison hit into a fielder’s choice for an out at third, Manheim ended the threat when Kenneff fielded a ground ball by Adam Young, stepped on third for a force out, and threw over to first to complete an inning-ending double play.
“Joe turned a key double play there,” said Jeff Mumma. “He was a shortstop at the beginning of the year, but we have a lot of good athletes on the team, so we moved him to third. He did a great job for us.”
After Safe Harbor got a run in the fourth inning to make it 3-1, Manheim scored three more in the bottom of the fourth. Jon Miller, Kernisky, and Bires had RBIs in the inning for Manheim.
Safe Harbor made it close in the top of the sixth when they scored two runs to make it 6-3.
But Manheim followed with their huge sixth inning to put the game away.
“They know that they can’t relax against this team,” said Jeff Mumma. “They have great coaching over there, and a great pitcher who’s one of the best in the county. When we play them we know we have to be at our best every time out.”
In Saturday’s second game, Mount Joy (26-4) used a six-run fifth inning to snap a 2-2 tie on their way to the 10-run victory over the Twins (14-8).
The game had been a pitcher’s duel up to that point, as Willow Street pitcher Matt Suter limited two hits through four innings.
But Ryan Hamilton led off Mount Joy’s fifth inning with a solo home run to left, and Suter never recovered.
After Hamilton’s blast, Suter gave up two singles to Ryan Torborg and Brandon Powell, then hit Jason Becker with a pitch to load the bases.
Torborg then stole home to make it 4-2. Suter struck out Bryan Engle, but followed by hitting Jeff Berman to load the bases again, and was pulled.
J.R. Clayton and Joel Shrum greeted reliever Rick Haldeman with back-to-back RBI singles to round out Mount Joy’s scoring for the inning.
Mount Joy got four more in the sixth inning, taking advantage of three walks and a wild pitch by reliever Matt Howard, who was pulled without recording an out.
Matt Bachert then smacked an RBI double and Hamilton hit an RBI single off of Tom Keiser, who came in to relieve Howard.
Keith McFalls scored both runs for Willow Street, stealing home for the first run and scoring the second on Cory Sharpe’s sacrifice fly in the third inning.
Torborg went the distance for Mount Joy, giving up two runs on five hits. He also struck out 10 and walked two for the Blue.