The compensation from St. Louis when Curt Flood refused to report to Philadelphia in a six-player trade, Willie Montanez was one of the most popular Phillies in the early ’70s.
As Philly would simmer under the summer sun, Willie would often shout, “I like it when it’s hot!”
Willie would’ve loved it Friday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field as the second day of the 65th New Era Tournament’s Junior-Midget quarterfinals baked in the oven of a triple-digit heat index.
And as Mother Nature cranked the thermostat ever higher, Carter Krick, Darren Rutledge and Zack Leonard really brought the heat.
Rutledge and Leonard pitched Solanco Gold to a 3-2 victory over Krick and Manheim Township Black in the second game of a New Era twinbill.
Not that they had the monopoly on good pitching Friday. Colin Fry and Andrew Bucher combined for a perfect game in the evening’s opener and the Manheim Lions 10-runned Donegal, 13-0.
“This game’s a funny deal,” offered Solanco coach Earl Rutledge, summing up the evening. “With the mound being two-foot (closer) than we’re used to, we knew pitching would dominate.”
Solanco and Manheim will meet in the second game of a J-M semifinal doubleheader, Monday night at Kunkle Field, 20 minutes after the conclusion of the SWS White Sox-Lititz VFW lid lifter.
Friday night Krick walked four, struck out 15 and allowed just four hits.
“We knew Carter could really pitch,” said Leonard. “He was throwing curveball and fastball. It was hard to see the curveball. The lights didn’t really help much.”
But, Krick had two errors on pickoff attempts, leading to a pair of runs for LCYBL champion Solanco, both scored by Devon Marshall.
“Carter did a fantastic job out there for us,” Township coach Scott Campagna said. “You come out and throw ininings like that, you certainly deserve the win.
“But (Solanco) is a good team. We split with them this year. We play tight with them always and it proved true today. ”
Rutledge, who started and went the first 4 1/3 innings for Gold (18-8), knocked in Keenan Riegal in the fifth inning with the game-winner.
“I was down in the count, and I’d been struggling earlier,” said Rutledge,who was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts. “He threw me a fastball. I was looking curveball and I just tried to put the bat on the ball. ”
Township (15-11-2) stroked five hits off Rutledge, who got a big lift from Riegal in right field, gunning down two runners at second base.
Rutledge carried the lead into the fifth inning and got the first two outs before he hit Josh Cubell. Krick followed with the first of two infield singles and when Rutledge walked Nate Werkheiser to load the bases, his coach, Earl Rutledge, came to get him.
“I could’ve kept going, but I was toasted,” said Darren.
“I give my son credit,” Earl Rutledge said. “He didn’t want to come out of the game, and I’d feel the same way.”
Leonard relieved and, throwing pure gas, put Gavin O’Donnell in a 1-2 hole. But he hit O’Donnell with the next pitch, forcing in a run and tying the game.
“I was ticked,” he later shared. “That set me off.”
He got Tyler Keeports on strikes to end the threat and struck out six in a row before closing out the victory.
In the first game Fry went the first four innings, striking out five, and Bucher came on to strike out a pair as the Lions (20-9-2) dominated Donegal (9-9).
Shortstop Blake Reiff drove in four runs, Bucher hit a two-run homer and the Lions also got run-scoring production from Fry, Kyle Winters, Darren Crouse, Shane Good and Daniel Weiderrecht.