New Era Correspondent
Manheim pitcher Jeff Knosp went from gem to jam Wednesday night, but with a little help from his friends, came away the king of the diamond.
Knosp won his eighth game of an undefeated summer as Manheim VFW (17-3) outscored Lancaster Mennonite 9-6 Wednesday evening in the first game of a New Era Tournament Midget Division quarterfinal doubleheader at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
The victory sets up a semifinal meeting Monday between Manheim and Donegal in the 5:15 game at the Clip.
The winners of tonight’s quarterfinal twinbill will meet in the second game Monday, scheduled for 20 minutes after the conclusion of the Manheim-Donegal contest.
The championship game will be Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Knosp sailed through the first three innings perfectly and had just been staked to a 2-0 lead on Devon Almodovar’s two-run double.
Then trouble hit.
With the first three batters of the fourth inning he lost his perfecto, his no-hitter and his shutout as Bryan Lapp walked, Jordon Smucker singled and Darin Miller doubled to deep center field.
Ben Adams singled home a second run and Andrew Martin gave Mennonite (12-6) the lead with a single to left.
“I was a little angry,” said Knosp. “I’m better than that. I was just putting it right down the middle there, just basically putting it on a tee for them to hit.”
Mennonite’s lead was short-lived.
Martin, Mennonite’s starter, got the first two outs of the fifth, then walked Mike Kemp and Almodovar.
With Knosp at the plate, Manheim coach Jeff Mummau put on the double steal.
He got an added benefit when Knosp hit the ball to shortstop with the runners moving and Jordon
Smucker got his feet tangled and fell in the infield dirt. Kemp scored easily and Almodovar, never stopping, scored right behind him.
“That was a little risky,” Knosp said. “I don’t know what he was doing, but it worked.”
“He made a great read,” Mummau said. “That was a very great, instinctive play. He didn’t hesitate. He went right away.
“That inning was huge, the way the guys executed. It made me look like a champ.”
By the time the dust settled, Manheim had added RBI singles by Jeremy Knosp and Tim Ruth and owned a 6-3 lead.
VFW increased that to 9-3 on Kemp’s RBI triple, Almodovar’s run-scoring hit and Jeremy Knosp’s second RBI single of the night.
Mennonite scored three in its last turn on singles by Bryan Lapp and Darin Miller and Smucker’s double, but Jeff Knosp was not about to let the win get away, retiring Ben Adams on a foul out to right field to end the game.
“I was beat,” Knosp said. “I’ve pitched all year, but that’s probably the worst I’ve ever been, tired-wise.”
His certainly left Mennonite’s coach Randy Gibson weary of seeing him.
“Jeff Knosp threw an excellent game,” Gibson said.
“That’s the second time we faced him,” Gibson added, referencing a 5-0 Manheim win the second time these teams met. (Mennonite won the first 11-2).
“He shut us out (then). We made an improvement, got nine hits and six runs.”