BY DAVE BYRNE
Confined to the pine by an elbow injury, Kyle Musser watched most of this season unfold without him.
Dylan King spent the season looking for his first home run.
Each player went deep Friday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field, and the Manheim Township Blue Streaks defended their LNP Tournament Midget-Midget championship, defeating the Warwick Phillies 6-4.
Musser stroked a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning, his second round-tripper of the tournament, well out of dead left field.
“The first (homer) I hit this tournament, I knew it was gone,” Musser said, “but not this one. I just got a good pitch and swung.”
With an error on Ryan Jones’ ground ball opening the door, the Streaks (20-3) kept the second inning alive. Evan Clark doubled Jones to third, bringing King to the plate.
King took a strike, then launched a three-run blast over left center.
“I was hoping for a home run all season, and it just hadn’t happened,” said King, who, like Musser, joined this team after playing in U-12 Section Two last year. “Once it came off the bat, it was pretty high, maybe a chance. When I heard the first-base (coach) yell, ‘Let’s go!’ I was like, ‘It went over.’ ”
“He’s a very free swinger, very aggressive. He goes up to the plate with a mission and sometimes he looks silly at the plate,” Streaks coach Jeff Kurtz said of King. “I said, ‘You don’t need to swing that hard to hit a ball out of the park. It’s just a matter of getting a good pitch and making good contact.’”
The five-run outburst put the Phillies (44-6) — who had posted a run on the first inning on Zach Shertzer’s infield out — on their heels, down 5-1.
They got two back in the top of the third on Matthew Seibert’s RBI single, Seibert stealing home on a pickoff of Shertzer at first.
But they missed a chance at a bigger inning as Nick Kurtz relieved winning pitcher Luke Wenger with two on. Which became bases loaded as Kurtz walked Matthew Williams.
But Kurtz, who rapped an RBI single off the right-field fence in the fourth, got a fielder’s choice and strikeout to avoid further damage.
“We just couldn’t get those key hits,” Phillies coach Todd Shertzer said.
“We had a couple unforced errors, Township took advantage of those opportunities when they had them and hit the ball hard.”
Kurtz went on to pitch 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, one-run baseball. Spotting his fastball, but relying mostly on a nasty curveball, he struck out nine, including the last four batters of the game.
“Last year’s team was a lot stronger,” Kurtz said. “We lost to Warwick twice in the regular season, so it’s good to come out and beat them in the championship.”
The Phillies clobbered Township at home, 19-6, early in the season, then claimed a walk-off win at home, 4-3.
“That loss was probably bigger than any win we had all year,” offered Kurtz. “It showed these boys, it really jelled the team together. We haven’t lost since then.”