New Era Correspondent
The confines of Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field can be pretty friendly for a junior-midget player. Tuesday night, those confines were cuddlin’ close.
A total of 10 home runs cleared the fences during a New Era Tournament junior-midget doubleheader Tuesday at Kunkle. The Manheim Township Cardinals avenged two earlier losses to Mount Joy Blue with a 10-8 victory and Lititz VFW defeated the Willow Street Yankees 20-0 in a mismatch that was terminated early by mutual consent.
The Cardinals (18-14) had mixed it up twice in tournaments with Blue, coming on the short side of 15-8 and 15-11 scores. So it wasn’t a big surprise when they began hammering away at each other again.
“We knew there wasn’t going to be much pitching. Everybody had everybody’s number,” said Blue coach Greg Schneider. “When somebody scores 19 runs on you in two games, you know that if you have to meet them a third time, anything goes.”
Township had leads of 1-0, 3-2, and 4-3. Mount Joy (20-10) enjoyed 2-1 and 5-4 advantages and forced a 3-3 tie.
The pitchers weren’t much of a mystery, but what was the difference this time for Township?
“Throwing strikes and making plays,” said Cards’ coach John Dochterman. “A couple weeks ago we were beating these guys and in one inning we gave up 10 runs on about seven walks and two hits.”
Cards’ starter Andy Sapovchak labored, but battled. Blue nicked him for a two-spot on a dropped fly ball, RBI singles by Jerry Hess and Joel Shrum (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored) and a throwing error.
Township answered with Jonathan Dochterman’s RBI hit and a well-executed double steal. Blue starter Dan Clore threw hard, but when the Cards connected, the ball went back out just as hard.
Mike Delaney jumped on the first pitch he saw in the third inning and jacked it straight down the left field line for the opening salvo in what would become a home run barrage.
Township won the game with a five-run fourth inning. John Snyder whacked an 0-1 pitch from Clore over the fence to lead off the fourth. One out later, Sapovchak singled sharply and Schneider came out for Clore.
Matt Davey greeted reliever Brian Engle with an RBI double and Delaney knocked Davey home with his second homer of the evening, a shot to straightaway center.
“Our hitters always hit the ball hard. It inspires us,” Delaney said. “When one of us hits it, it gets everybody to come around.
“Tonight it really came around for me,” he added. “I love this field. It reminds me of the Major Leagues.”
Greg Lausch went back-to-back with Delaney and one inning later Sapovchak closed Township’s scoring with a blast to right center. Then Mount Joy got into the long ball act.
Leading off the Blue fifth, Eric McCrady and Shrum took Sapovchak downtown back-to-back. At that point, the elder Dochterman decided to bring in the younger Dochterman in relief.
“Before I hung with Sapovchak too long,” the coach said. “Today I didn’t hang with him. He did a great job, he got us as far as we needed him.”
Changing speeds and hitting his spots, Dochterman threw three innings of four-hit, one-run relief to save Sapovchak’s victory and send Township on to a quarterfinal meeting Thursday with Denver.
In the second game, Lititz VFW (21-3) brought a reputation for hitting to the game and they didn’t disappoint.
“Our top six hitters have been our run makers most all the year,” said VFW coach Jeff Peifer. “The middle of the lineup has definitely been the powerhouse of this lineup.”
Lititz’ Matt Gale pitched a one-hitter through his five innings of work, striking out 10 and walking four. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate, with a homer and three RBIs.
Greg Welsh led the way offensively for Lititz, going 2-for-2 with a three-run home run. Jamie Peifer had one hit in three trips and scored four runs. Kyle Pickel slammed a homer in the fourth.
The Yanks’ only offense was a first-inning base hit by Eric Lopez.
Lititz VFW will be back at Kunkle Field Friday at 6:15 p.m. to face Safe Harbor in the quarterfinals. Safe Harbor received a first-round bye after the Rohrerstown Rockies were disqualified.