Mountville, Manheim wins to advance to Midget-Midget semis

Mountville’s Matt Hartman, who tossed a complete-game three-hitter, looks for a high-five from teammates.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

For a change, the Mountville Indians aren’t wearing the favorite’s target coming into the New Era Midget-Midget baseball tournament. Not that that changes the way the Indians’ opponents play the 7-time tournament champions.

After a couple years wandering in the Under-12 baseball wilderness, Manheim VFW Maroon is once again a factor. And making the most of it.

Manheim and Mountville advanced to what should be a bang-up New Era Tournament semifinal matchup, Monday at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.

Manheim (31-3) banged out 16 hits and Colin Fry and Andrew Bucher combined on a 2-hitter as VFW downed the Warwick Phillies 12-0 in the first game of a quarterfinal doubleheader Friday night at Kunkle Field.

In the second game, Matthew Hartman scattered three hits over six innings, allowing an unearned run, as the Indians (29-13) turned back Mt. Joy Blue 6-1.

Manheim and Mountville will meet Monday in the second game of a scheduled doubleheader. The Ephrata Dragons (15-10) will face the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals (25-7) in the first game in a 6 p.m. start. The second game will start 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first.

One key for Friday’s winners was getting an early jump. Manheim put up a 3-spot on Warwick in its first bats. For Mountville, it was a 2-run first inning that paved the way to victory.

The early advantages were much appreciated by the winning pitchers. “Those guys helped me a lot,” said Hartman.

“It definitely takes the pressure off you,” added Fry.

Fry kept the pressure on Warwick, allowing just Drew Baker’s first-inning infield hit over four innings work. He struck out five and didn’t issue a walk in a dominant performance.

“My curve wasn’t really working,” he demurred, “I wasn’t really following through as much as I should have. But my fastball was working very well.”

“He certainly was dominant,” said Manheim coach Jeff Knosp. “He pitched a very good ballgame.”

Fry (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs) helped himself at the plate, driving in the first run of the game with an RBI groundout. Blake Reiff (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 3 runs) knocked in a run and Damon Crouse (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs) ripped the first of his two RBI triples into the rightfield corner to make it a 3-0 game.

Manheim nicked the Phillies (14-15) for a pair of unearned runs in the third when a 2-out fielding error on Crouse’s grounder plated Kyle Winters (3-3, 3 runs) and JJ Sanchez delivered with an RBI hit. A 3-run fifth and 4-run sixth provided the final margin.

Looking to save a couple innings for Fry down the road, Knosp went to Bucher for two innings of relief. There was little dropoff as Bucher stranded Derek Acaley, who had singled with two outs in the fifth, at third with the second of his three strikeouts.

“Pitching was good,” said Knosp. “Fielding was good. Bats were good. You can’t ask for anything more.”

In the nightcap, Nelson Paredes doubled home leadoff hitter Zach Getz, who walked, and Hartman plated Paredes with an infield out and the Indians were on the move.

Hartman retired seven of the first eight before Jared Oleweiler singled, then was immediately erased on a 4-3 doubleplay turned by second baseman Zach Brubaker.

Brubaker had an interesting, if somewhat inconsistent, game in the field. In addition to turning the twin killing, he laid out to his right to snag Justin Amspacher’s sharp liner leading off the second. One batter later, he committed the first of his three fielding errors.

It was a microcosm of how these Indians have played. “(We’re) a work in progress, yeah, that’s what we are,” said long-time Indians’ chief Bob Sauders. “It’s a good bunch of kids. They’re capable of making fantastic plays. And … they’re 12-year olds.”

Brubaker blooped an RBI single into right to trigger the Tribe’s 2-run fourth inning, scoring on Tyler Ruhl’s hit. And, after Nelson Paredes (2-for-2, 2 runs, RBI) scored on a balk in the fifth, Hartman knocked in Chris Schroll to cap the scoring.

“It was good to have a decent lead going into the last inning,” said Hartman who had been victimized by three walk-off hits this year. Mt. Joy dented the plate with an unearned run in the fifth inning when Sal Lazorski’s RBI groundout scored Matthew Crager.

Besides Oleweiler’s hit, Hartman allowed a pair of hits by losing pitcher Austin Mellinger. “It was one of my better games,” said Hartman, who kept Mt. Joy off balance with a hard curve that broke, late, maybe a half foot.

There’s a good chance he’ll get more work. IF the Indians can solve Manheim.

“We’re going to have our hands full and we’re going to have to bring our “A” game on Monday,” said Sauders. “Manheim’s an excellent team. They’re definitely the team to beat.”

Manheim VFW’s Hunter Pearson scores the first run, getting under the tag of Warwick’s Derek Acaley.

Manheim’s Kyle Winters, who went 3-for-3 with three runs scores, slides past Warwick’s Chase Martin.