Tonight’s Midget finalists met in 2008 M-M championship
By Dave Byrne
The Midget finals of the 67th New Era Tournament will be a rematch of the 2008 Midget-Midget finals.
Top seed Manheim VFW will face sixth-seeded Strasburg/Willow Street tonight at 7 p.m. at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
As the sun set over the Clip on Sunday night, Manheim dominated Donegal 11-0 in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
Winning pitcher Blake Reiff allowed just three hits and knocked in three runs in the rout.
Donegal (13-5) earned a place in the semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Solanco in the first game of Sunday’s tripleheader.
Austin Martinez allowed one unearned run while scattering five hits and striking out 12 to keep Solanco (13-5-4) at bay.
Justin Amspacher singled in the go-ahead run in a decisive sixth-inning rally and Connor Bowers added insurance with a sacrifice fly.
Losing pitcher Zach Leonard plated Solanco’s only run with a first-inning ground out.
In the middle match, SWS (13-5-1) played baseball the Wright way to stop the Ephrata Pride, 7-4.
Cameron Enck took a three-hit shutout into the fifth inning and got offensive support from Matt Wright and Josh Wright, each of whom stroked two-run doubles to key a seven-hit attack.
The finals will be a collision of history as SWS, making its fourth consecutive appearance in the Midget championship game, will be shooting for its first-ever Midget title.
Manheim (20-2), back in the finals after a five-year absence, is looking for its fourth Midget title overall, its first since 1998.
Then there’s the history of these teams meeting in the 2008 M-M finals, a contest won by the SWS Cardinals 6-4.
The younger members of that Manheim Maroon squad got back to the 2009 M-M finals, only to be denied by the Warwick Phillies, 9-8.
While Manheim mined gold in 2010, romping over Lititz VFW as the Junior-Midget Manheim Lions, 9-2, the nucleus of this SWS side has been panning pyrite since ’08.
As have the SWS Midget teams that have come before.
“We know the history of this, SWS has never won at this level,” said Josh Wright, who is unrelated to Matt Wright.
“That’s in the back of our mind, that we want to be the first,” he said, “but when we get to the game, that’s gone. We’re just thinking about that moment in time. Nothing else.”
Their moment came in a pair of three-run innings, the third and fifth.
Back-to-back errors by second-baseman Trevor Seibel opened the door in the third and Josh Wright drilled a curveball from Scott Liebl into the left field corner to score a pair of runs.
“I just sat back and waited,” he said. “I felt good when I hit it. Really good.”
Michael Warfel added an RBI hit and SWS doubled its advantage as Matt Wright turned on a rare fastball from Liebl, doubling to left.
“I finally saw a fastball and took advantage of it,” said Wright, who was in the right place at the right time in the Ephrata fourth when the Pride (14-4-1) loaded the bases with one out.
Ethan Sipe scalded a ball to short where Wright intercepted its flight path. Two strides and he had a rally-killing unassisted double play.
“I was just at the right place,” he said. “It came right to me and I touched second base.”
Ephrata got on the board in the fifth on a wild pitch and Branden Miller’s two-run single.
But SWS got an RBI single from Brett Brooks and Warfel doubled for his second RBI of the afternoon to ice the win.
In the nightcap Manheim dropped the pedal and never let up, breaking strong from the gate.
“Our strategy was to just come out and hit,” said Reiff, who doubled in Ben Bomberger to open the festivities.
Colin Fry plated a run on a ground out and Manheim added a run on a wild pitch before Josh Flanagan and Shane Good hit RBI singles to end losing pitcher Sam Lazowski’s outing.
VFW treated Lazowski’s relief, Camren Ney, no better in the second inning as Peter Breit doubled, Bomberger worked his second four-pitch walk and J.J. Sanchez reached on a bunt single.
Then Reiff ripped a two-run single up the middle.
“I got my first-pitch fastball both times,” he said. “That’s what I look for.”
Fry hit a sacrifice fly, Dan Wiederrecht singled in a run and Reiff could think about calling it an early night.
“We scored nine runs, so that was a big help for me,” he said.
Bomberger finally got a pitch to hit with Kyle Winters on third in the third.
“It was long awaited,” he said. “We’re taught to always wait out the curveball and go for the fastball.”
He went for it like a Jack Russell on a chipmunk, driving in the mercy run. Sanchez made it academic, singling Bomberger home.