Mount Joy and Ephrata cruise in their LNP Tourney openers

Dan Snyder delivers for Ephrata.

By Dave Byrne
LNP Correspondent

Mount Joy Blue and the Ephrata Phillies came out firing Saturday, as the LNP Midget Baseball Tournament opened with a preliminary doubleheader in the Junior-Midget division.

The Phils overcame a slow start to beat Solanco Gold II, 9-1, while Mount Joy Blue hammered the Leones 14-1 in a game that ended after five innings under the 10-run rule.

Saturday’s winners advance to a quarterfinal doubleheader tomorrow back at Kunkle Field. Mount Joy Blue (18-8) will play Denver at 6:15 p.m., while the Phillies (26-8) take on Hempfield Black in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

Mount Joy Blue put together a seven-run second inning and a six-run third en route to its big win. Chris Heisey (2-for-3) and Dan Myers (2-for-3) each clouted two-run homers in the second and winning pitcher Justin Reese delivered a two-run shot in the third.

Heisey, Myers, Jon Felix, Rodney Garber and J.D. Herbert each scored a pair of runs.

Meanwhile, Reese mastered the Leones’ lineup, allowing only two hits – a single and home run by Carlos Diaz. Diaz’s fifth-inning rocket jumped out of the yard, in a heartbeat and on a line. But it was the only run the Leones (15-1) could muster.

In the other game, Ephrata was anxious to erase the memory of its last visit to Kunkle Field, when the Phils were nuked in the finals of the Asher Neiss Tournament just a little over a week ago. Lititz VFW blanked them 16-0 in a five-inning no-hitter.

But Saturday was a different story.

Solanco Gold’s Jeremy Armer, a first-year junior-midget, pitched well early before Ephrata got to him in the fifth inning.

“I thought we would come out hitting a little better than we did,” said Phils’ coach John Snyder. “But we hung in there, got some good pitching through the first couple innings and then we finally got some of our bats going.”

As his efforts took him to the 119-pitch mark, Ephrata began to solve Armer.

A walk and a single set the table in the fifth inning for Pete Manko, who launched a three-run homer to centerfield.

In the sixth, solo homers by John Wechter and Dan Snyder keyed another three-spot that broke the game wide open.

Wechter and Ross Buckwalter each were 2-for-5 for the Phillies, while teammate Jared Doster was 3-for-4.

On the mound, Dan Snyder dominated Solanco (15-6-1). Snyder struck out the first seven hitters he faced and limited Gold to two hits and one earned run in four innings of work. He walked two and struck out 10.

Manko came in behind Snyder with three innings of one-hit, shutout relief.

Armer (2-for-3) broke up Snyder’s no-hitter in the third inning with an infield single and Mike Blevins singled in Josh Welk in the fourth inning for Solanco’s lone run.

“We played well and we fought and that’s what I was hoping for,” said Gold coach Tom Welk, pleased that his “B” team performed so well.

“Considering we’re all 13-year olds, and an 11-year old, I was proud,” he said. “I know we were the underdog today. We were hoping we could give them a game and stay competitive.”

Rodney Garber scores for Mount Joy Blue, avoiding Eduardo Burgos’ tag.

Justin Reece pitches for Mount Joy Blue.