New Era Correspondent
Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field is to the New Era Tournament what Colorado’s Coors Field is to Major League Baseball — a launching pad.
Considering the short porch all the way around the outfield, keeping balls inside the park can be a daunting task.
But Jordan Mellinger was up to the challenge Thursday night.
Using a knee-bending curveball to supplement his heater, the Mount Joy Blue right-hander allowed just one hit and struck out 11 as his team advanced to the Junior-Midget Division semifinals with an 11-0 shutout of Reamstown Black.
With the victory, Blue set up a rematch with Manheim Lions, 9-6 winners over Hempfield Black in Thursday’s other J-M quarterfinal. They played each other twice in the regular season, and Manheim earned a sweep.
The third meeting is set for Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Kunkle. In Wednesday’s other semifinal at 6 p.m., Safe Harbor will take on Lancaster Red.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us with Manheim,” said Mount Joy coach Brad Schmitt. “They’re a strong club.”
If Blue gets the kind of pitching it had on Thursday, it will give Manheim all it can handle.
Mellinger faced one batter over the minimum against Reamstown, allowing one walk to go along with Chad Miller’s single to right in the second inning. Miller’s hit was canceled out when he tried to stretch it into a double and was tagged out in a rundown.
“That was some of my best stuff,” admitted Mellinger after the game. “It was a good game. My curve was breaking hard for me. I usually rely more on my fastball, but you have to mix it up.”
“Jordan’s doing a good job for us,” said Schmitt. “It helps the team play up to his standard behind him when he’s pitching that well. It really helps with their confidence.”
Mellinger also helped himself offensively, smashing a three-run home run to left in the third inning to account for Mount Joy’s final runs. The 10-run mercy rule was invoked two innings later.
“That was a pitch you don’t throw at Kunkle Field,” said Mellinger of his homer, which came at the expense of Reamstown right-hander Kyle Dundore. “You have to learn that as a pitcher. You can’t throw anything down the middle or inside that they can pull, or that’s what happens.
“My eyes lit up when I saw it coming in. As soon as it left the bat I was like, “Yes!”
Mellinger got plenty of run support, as Blue jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning despite getting only two hits. Reamstown committed two errors behind Dundore, who compounded his problems by issuing a pair of wild pitches and throwing away a pickoff attempt at third base.
“It gave me a boost to get out on them that soon,” said Mellinger, who scored the game’s first run on Dundore’s errant pickoff throw. “It really helps your confidence.”
“The run support is key to any pitcher,” agreed Schmitt. “The guys really came out there for him, and that’s what it takes.”
Ryan Beamendeyer made it 8-0 in the second inning, when he blasted a Dundore offering over the fence in right-center.
Catcher Charles Carper paced Blue’s attack by going 3-for-3 with two runs scored.