Add to life’s certainties, death and taxes, this one truism: Bryan Haberstroh will not pitch any more this year in the New Era Tournament.
Which is good news for Hempfield Black, the Mountville Angels’ opponent in tonight’s New Era Junior-Midget Division championship game.
After throwing a seven-inning complete game last Thursday, Haberstroh exhausted his allotted 14 total innings, pitching the Angels (17-3) into the title game, Monday night at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.
Haberstroh overcame a shaky first inning and went on to pitch a two-hitter, walking four and striking out 12 as Mountville eliminated the Strasburg-Willow Street White Sox, 7-2, in the first game of a semifinal twinbill.
In the second game, Cory Gantz pitched Black (21-7) into tonight’s championship, shutting out Rheems Gray on six hits.
Game time tonight at Kunkle is set for 7 p.m.
Two of SWS’s first three batters reached on infield errors by Mountville and, sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts, Haberstroh walked two batters — throwing wild pitches that plated Regan Hershey and Jason Lindsley.
On the wild pitch that scored Lindsley, Brett Brooks was nailed at third in an extended rundown after taking a big turn. Given the reprieve, Haberstroh settled in after that.
“I was releasing the ball too high,” he said. “I was trying to overthrow to hard.”
John Gote’ walked in the second, but was caught stealing second. Hershey singled off the fence in right in the third, but was gunned at second stretching it to a double.
Jared Horn doubled leading off the fourth inning, moving to third on a sacrifice. But he was stranded as Haberstroh set the next 10 down in order.
Sam Nguyen singled with one out in the White Sox seventh, and Gote walked with two out. But Haberstroh was in little danger, leading 7-2 at the time, and he closed out the win, striking out Collin Miller for the final out.
For as much as he did with his arm, Haberstroh jump-started his second win of the tournament with his bat, drilling a two-run home run off SWS starter Anthony Wittemann in the third inning.
“It was a belt-high fastball,” he said. “It felt good because I knew it would get our team back on track and give us a good chance to win.”
That tied the game at 2-2 and Mountville cinched the win scoring five runs over the next two innings.
The Angels went ahead in the fourth inning as the Sox (26-17), betrayed by sloppy fielding, gave up two runs on two errors, then capped the rally on Matt Gue’s RBI infield out.
Josh Brubaker’s 2-run single to right in the fifth inning gave Haberstroh room to breathe.
Gantz passed a big test in the second inning when Rheems (25-6-1) put together three straight two-out hits.
And didn’t score.
With two on, Kirby Breault ripped a hit to right field. Adam Karl came up with the ball and threw a seed to catcher Camden Hess, who set up a roadblock in front of the plate.
Dead to rights trying to score from second, Allen Toth set a Kunkle Field record in the high jump as he tried to go over Hess.
To no avail.
“We’ve had a good defense all year,” said Gantz, who dialed in his out pitch, a killer curveball, after the second inning.
Meanwhile, Black struck quickly. As has been their modus operandi all season.
“All of our wins have come because we hit the ball very well in the first couple innings,” said shortstop Nolan Myers. “It’s been big for us.”
Anthony Dornes led off the game with an easy fly ball to center field. Lucas Jewell initially broke in, then double-timed trying to catch up as the ball went over his head. Dornes pulled into second as the ball fell in and, following a walk to Gantz, scored on Nick Yarnall’s single into the leftfield corner.
After Gantz’s second-inning escape, Myers gave him an edge with a 2-run single in the third inning and Dornes plated Black’s fourth, and final, run with a safety sacrifice bunt in the fourth, scoring pinch runner Tommy Brady.