New Era Correspondent
If the Manheim VFW Maroon Midget-Midgets haven’t chosen a theme song yet, perhaps they might consider Aerosmith’s Walk This Way.
Josh Good and Jeremy Patrick drew back-to-back, two-out, bases-loaded walks in Manheim’s final at-bat to fuel a 2-1 victory over the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals in the opening night of the 61st New Era Midget Baseball Tournament.
“We made a few mistakes, but we overcame those,” said Maroon manager Jeff Knosp.
“We scored the runs when we had to. That’s baseball. That’s what it’s all about, being ahead at the end of the game.”
The win earns Manheim (19-9) a spot in Monday night’s M-M semifinals opposite the Norlanco Redbirds.
Norlanco outlasted Hempfield Black 8-6 in eight innings in the opening game of a quarterfinal doubleheader, Thursday night at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.
Hits were hard to come by, and runs harder still as Manheim’s Ryan Wilson and Jeremy Patrick dueled the Cardinals’ Peter Darrenkamp.
“I think we had two hits all night,” said Cardinals’ manager Phil Neff.
“And (Darrenkamp) pitched a great game.”
Wilson retired seven in a row and nine of the first ten hitters he faced before John Jabour led off the fourth inning by dropping a single into centerfield for SWS’s first hit of the game.
The Cardinals (17-13) sandwiched walks to Nate Shank and Matt McCrudden around a strikeout, loading the bases.
Dan Neff grounded sharply to Derick Fahnestock at short. Fahnestock thought about coming home, but threw to first for the out, allowing Jabour to score the first run of the game.
The only run of the game, it seemed, as Darrenkamp was mowing Manheim down. He allowed a single to Wilson in the first, then retired 12 in a row after Patrick’s base hit in the second.
Three outs away from the end of their season, Manheim got life. Skyler Becker singled to center to open the sixth inning, moved to second on a passed ball and, with one out, took third as Kyle Winters singled off Josh Miller’s glove in left field.
With the infield up Ben Hollinger grounded to second baseman Ray Lopez. Lopez threw home, trapping pinch runner Mark Engle and triggering a crisp rundown: second-to-catcher-to-third-to-pitcher-to-shortstop. That was the second out.
With half the SWS defense hanging around third, Winters held his ground at second. But both runners advanced on Darrenkamp’s wild pitch, ball-1 to Wilson.
Darrenkamp walked Wilson to load the bases, then walked Good on four pitches to force in the tying run.
“If I could’ve done anything differently, I probably would’ve pulled him one batter sooner,” said Neff.
“You never know. He got us to that point, and he’d been great for us all year.” Neff replaced Darrenkamp with Lopez, who quickly buried Patrick, 1-and-2.
Patrick worked the count back to full, then took ball four to push across the go-ahead run. Lopez then retired Fahnestock on a come-backer, but the damage had been done.
Good, who replaced Wilson in the fifth, teased SWS in the sixth, yielding Jabour’s second hit of the night and a walk to Darrenkamp.
But he threw high octane past McCrudden three times and whiffed Neff to end the threat and pick up the win.
“We’re scrappy,” said Knosp. ” Not that we’ve had a lot of close games, but we’ve been in every ballgame that we’ve played.”