New Era Correspondent
The Mountville Indians and the East Petersburg Reds will play for the Midget-Midget title of the 50th New Era Tournament Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.
The Indians (28-9) took the measure of yet another Hempfield area team, Hempfield Black, 5-2, in the opener of a semifinal doubleheader at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field Thursday night.
In the nightcap, the Reds (21-7) beat back a late rally to upend the Ephrata Lions, 6-3.
The Indians and Black didn’t even allow an 80-minute rain delay to dampen their spirits and intensity.
The summer storm that had announced its impending arrival for more than an inning finally got to Kunkle in the bottom of the third inning with the teams tied at 1-1.
Hempfield (17-6) took the lead in the top of the second when Jon Getz singled in pitcher Dave Bechtold, who had lived on an error.
In the bottom of the inning Mike Haubert ripped Bechtold’s first pitch to right for a triple and came home on Nate Poulos’ sacrifice fly to center.
Then Mother Nature took over.
When play resumed, the Indians resumed their assault on Bechtold. With one out Matt Baker (3-for-3) singled, but was erased trying to stretch it to a double.
“We try to be aggressive, try to take advantage,” said Indians’ coach Bob Sauders. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Ryan Wile (2-for-3) followed with a base hit and an infield hit by Vinnie Doyle and walk to winning pitcher Jake Shellenberger loaded the bases.
Haubert (2-for-3) popped a single behind third scoring Wile and Doyle, sending Shellenberger to third. On the first pitch to Poulos, Shellenberger headed for home, sliding across home ahead of the tag.
“Jake’s steal of home was a very big play,” Sauders said. “You could see Landisville just drop their eyes after that one.”
“Coach told me if he goes from the windup, just go,” said Shellenberger.
Utilizing a curveball he throws with a cutting motion rather than a snap motion, Shellenberger kept Hempfield off the board until Getz returned the steal-of-home favor in the top of the fifth. After walking and advancing to third on wild pitch and a steal, he stole home on an 0-1 strike to Tim Marino.
In the bottom of the inning Baker and Wile teamed with a pair of singles to produce Mountville’s last run.
The win was a sweet turnabout for Mountville.
“This team embarrassed us… No, we embarrassed ourselves,” Sauders said with quick correction. “It was one of those days when nothing went right – 12-3, and we make nine errors.”
This time they cut the E’s to two and reaped the benefit.
“It’s kind of a bitter-sweet moment,” said Hempfield coach Stan Anderson. “We got the big win last Friday, and tonight there was something missing. We just didn’t have the bats.
“You’ve got to hit to win this game and two runs aren’t going to win many games. Two hits are not going to win any games!”
East Pete used its team speed to set up scoring opportunities, then cashed them in.
Justin Tearney singled with one out in the second and took second on an errant pickoff throw by pitcher Ross Buckwalter. Tearney promptly stole third and then with two out stole home.
In the third Ben Murray’s one out single ignited the offense again. Murray stole second and third and, going on contact, scored on Dan Walters’ ground out.
“We knew they wouldn’t be real familiar with the running game,” said Reds’ coach Skip Walters. “We wanted to take advantage of that.”
A two-run double by Mike Schwebel made the score 4-0 in the fifth and the Lions’ defense – which had played well behind Buckwalter – sprung some major leaks in the sixth as the Reds posted two unearned scores.
While the Reds were providing the offense, Sam Minder was seeing to it that Ephrata (22-5) didn’t do the same.
Minder carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Shawn Hackman singled up the middle with two outs.
Hackman, who was the Lions’ first baserunner, living on an error by Walters in the second, was quickly erased on a steal attempt. Chris Gehman walked in the fifth, the only free pass Minder would issue as he took a 13-strikeout shutout into the sixth.
Tiring, Minder found himself in trouble after a pair of errors and a fielder’s choice put two on. Jon Weachter tripled in two runs, chasing Minder, then scored the Lions’ last run on a balk by Dan Walters, who relieved.
Walters eventually walked Hackman, but got a ground out and took the last out himself, squeezing a pop up.
“I was very proud of the performance we put on,” said Lions’ coach Rob Deininger. “We have five 12-year-olds, most of our 11- and 10-year-olds contributed tonight. Hopefully, we’ll be back here in the future.”