If the LNP Tournament awarded a tournament MVP award, the hands-down winner for the Junior-Midget Division would be Manheim Township Black’s Carlos “X” Medina.
If the tourney awarded a single-game citation for championship-game merit, Medina would share it with teammate Tyler Deshong.
Given the ball for the J-M championship game, Medina pitched a complete-game four-hitter as Township (16-12) defeated the Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox, 2-1, Tuesday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.
Deshong drove in both Township runs with a first-inning solo home run and an RBI single in the sixth inning.
The RBIs were the first and only of the tournament for the ninth grader, who was a cumulative 4-for-8 with two runs scored.
As important as his offense was Tuesday, equally important was his work behind the plate as he caught the biggest game of Medina’s young career.
“He had his curveball, his slider, fastball,” Deshong said. “He mixed in a splitter, but not that often.”
Medina walked three while striking out ten and allowing baserunners in just four innings.
The White Sox (13-11-1) reached him in the fourth inning when Chad Babcock drilled a 1-2 pitch well out of the alley in left center leading off the inning.
Randy Hess followed with a single, the only time the Sox put together back-to-back hits, but Medina retired the next ten in a row, walked David Adams with one out in the seventh, then retired Ryan Shultz on strikes and Danny Snyder on a checked-swing tapper back to the mound to trigger the celebration.
“I just think “X” was too good tonight,” said Sox coach Bill DeMora, tipping his cap. “When he’s on the mound it’s another step up.
“He throws the ball from about 25 different positions. You can’t keep up with where the ball’s coming from.”
“He kept them off balance,” agreed Township coach Mark Good, “and he kept us in the game.”
As was the case in Monday’s semifinals, both teams’ pitchers kept their respective sides in the game.
After two stellar starting performances, the Sox’s Chad Babcock had just two innings of eligibility remaining.
DeMora’s plan was to use Babcock for one inning at the start, then bring him back in the seventh, hopefully to slam the door on a SWS victory.
It looked like a good plan as Babcock got Medina on a first-pitch comebacker and struck out Quinn Bertel on three pitches.
Babcock quickly got ahead of Deshong on a pair of called strikes, but Deshong sandwiched a good foul around a pair of balls.
“I was looking for a fastball,” Deshong said, “letting the curveball go, trying to foul it off and wait for a pitch I could handle.”
That came on the sixth pitch he saw as Babcock left a fastball up in the zone. Deshong sent it skyward as centerfielder Danny Snyder drifted back, back, back until suddenly his back was to the fence and the ball was sailing over.
“I was actually shocked that it went out,” Deshong later admitted. “I didn’t think I got that much of it. It just carried, and it went out.”
Babcock yielded to Randy Hess after his inning’s work and all Hess did was hold Township to a single and walk by Danny Way over the next four innings.
Twice, Kody Karpinski sacrificed Way to second, but Way was erased on the road to third both times.
The first time, he tried to take two bases on the bunt and was out at third. He got caught the second time between second and third in a should-I-stay-or-go situation after a wild pitch.
“We made a couple of base-running mistakes,” said Good, “which was hard, because your next guy on deck is (Medina).”
Babcock’s homer tied the game, which was starting to look like it would last long into the night.
As Black came in to hit in the sixth Medina said, “Guys give me one run and I’ve got it!”
Then he set the wheels in motion, lining Hess’s first pitch into the left-field corner for a double. He took third on a wild pitch from Hess.
DeMora came out and replaced a visibly unhappy Hess with Babcock, who got Bertel to ground back to the mound on one pitch with no advance by Medina.
Then Deshong’s hard grounder spun off the glove of shortstop Evan King and trickled into centerfield as Medina cruised home.
Township eventually loaded the bases on a single by Kyle Karpinski and Frank DeFillipo’s walk, but Babcock avoided further damage with a pair of strikeouts.
But this time there was no late-inning deliverance for the Sox. Medina saw to that.
“I could tell he was getting a little tired,” Deshong said, “but he told me, ‘I’m not coming out of this game.’ ”
“He put it in his hands,” Good said, “and he went with it.”
‘X’ will be a factor at Township
By Jeff Reinhart
LNP Sports Writer
Note to Manheim Township varsity baseball coach Bill Sassaman:
Hey coach, keep an eye out for this hotshot incoming freshman next spring. Kid goes by the name of “X”.
(Long story. It’s a family thing.)
Anyway, he’s a real gamer. A sparkplug. A catalyst. Always has a dirty uniform. Likes to wear his cap sideways.
The kid will run through a brick wall for you and your Blue Streaks.
Oh yeah, and he can hit, pitch and run. He’s a five-tool player just waiting to explode.
Say hello to Carlos Medina — “X” to his teammates. He even has a blue “X” on the back of his Manheim Township Black jersey, just above his trusty No. 3.
Medina capped an unbelievable week in grand style Tuesday night in the title game of the LNP Junior-Midget Tournament.
Against the Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox, the hard-throwing righty allowed just four hits and struck out 10 to lead MT Black to a 2-1 victory at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
“I wanted the ball,” Medina said. “Oh, did I ever want the ball. I wanted the ball really, really badly.”
Medina also scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth, after he smoked a leadoff double down the line in left and came home on Tyler Deshong’s one-out RBI single.
Deshong, who caught Medina’s masterpiece, also hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first for MT Black.
“It feels great,” said Medina, holding the championship trophy aloft. “This is all we wanted all season. Everyone doubted us. We started out 1-5 but we came on strong and we finished on top.
“We won the league (Penn Manor J-M) and we won the LNP. That’s what we wanted — and we proved everyone wrong.”
Medina had a big say in that.
In the LNP Tournament, he used a funky side-winding motion to baffle hitters and allow just one earned run in 11 innings.
And at the plate he went 7 for 11 with three homers and a pair of doubles.
“That says it all right there,” MT Black coach Mark Good said. “That’s leadership and that’s determination. And that’s a hungry player.”
And that’s a clutch player who wants the ball and wants to be at the plate in crunch time.
Are you listening Coach Sassasman?
So what’s up with the “X”?
Medina’s dad, grandfather and brother also are named Carlos.
“Actually, there are a lot of Carloses in my family,” Medina said. “When I was in second grade, my brother was on the traveling team and they were a player short one day, and I was the only other kid there.
“My middle name is Xavier, so they started calling me “X-Man”. As I got older, they shortened it to just “X”.
And the rest is history.
Medina’s goal is to make some history when he makes Sassaman’s team.
“If I work hard, hopefully I can play on varsity (next spring),” he said.
“But I’m not worrying about that right now. I’m just thinking about this. We got it.”
That would be the shiny LNP Tournament trophy Medina was lugging around in his right hand — the hand he had just used to mow down the White Sox.
And the hand he hopes will make “X” a household name around the Lancaster-Lebanon League sooner rather than later.