Odd, Bear market: Lititz, Bears to Midget semis with victories

Luke Hackman hits an RBI double in the third inning.

By Dave Byrne
Sports Staff

Walks may not get you off the island, but they can get you to the semifinals of the New Era Tournament.

Graciously accepting five walks from Township starter Aldan Zimmerman — one intentional — the Lititz Oddfellows plated two fifth-inning runs to break a 1-1 tie and defeat Manheim Township Black, 3-2, in Tuesday night’s Midget quarterfinals.

Lititz advanced to tonight’s semis against Bears Blue, which worked eight innings for a 5-4 victory over Solanco Gray in Tuesday night’s second game.

“Everybody wants to hit,” offered Oddfellows coach Bill Weismandel, “but taking a walk at a key moment is just as good sometimes.”

Zimmerman, who had thrown 66 pitches coming into the inning, 39 for strikes, completely lost the strike zone, throwing 20 balls to eight strikes.

He walked Drew Keller and Tim Griest and, after Michael Perezous sacrificed, Luke Mariano’s infield out plated courtesy runner Thomas Elliot with the go-ahead run.

Township elected to walk Luke Hackman intentionally, then Zimmerman walked Tyler Martin unintentionally.

Chase Gilbert worked the fifth walk of the inning, forcing Griest home with an insurance run.

That run came in handy when Township pulled within a run on Justin Kilpatrick’s RBI ground out.

But the bases-loaded rally was extinguished when Tyler Russell, running for catcher Matt Shatto, was thrown out at home by shortstop Chase Martin.

When Tommy Smeltz grounded back to Keller for the second out, Brett Alaimo was caught between second and third as Russell held.

First baseman Tim Greist threw to Martin covering second, Martin’s sweep tag was late and, as Russell broke for home, Martin popped up and threw a seed to the plate.

“In a close game you’ve got to have that big play,” Weismandel said. “That’s the one kid you want with the ball when you need a heads up play.”

Township took the early lead on Kyle Heckman’s fielder’s choice, but Keller retired Jon Eriksson on a liner to left to avoid further damage.

Lititz got that back on Luke Hackman’s RBI single to left in the third.

From there Keller held Black at bay, holding them to just four hits and one walk.

“About the second, third inning we were telling our guys it was going to be a 3-2, 2-1 kind of game,” Bill Weismandel said.

“You just try to find ways to execute and hope you make less mistakes than they make.”

Bears Blue dealt a double dose of Sam in the nightcap, then cleaned up on Daniel Longenecker’s eighth-inning line drive to right to upset Solanco Gray.

Sam Kambesis’ fifth-inning three-run double pulled the Bears out of a 3-0 hole and Sam Epps earned the victory with 4 2/3 innings of three-hit relief.

A victory juggled and recovered. Blue went up 4-3 in the sixth inning on Ryan Caley’s bases-loaded walk.

Gray knotted the game in the bottom of the inning on James Rohrer’s RBI double and stranded Caleb Groff on second in the seventh.

Down a run, Gray loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Epps struck out Rohrer, then retired Bailey Keys on a well struck, but catchable fly to center.

That gave Gray a total of 16 left on base for the game, a key figure in this tight loss.

Solanco broke on top on Groff’s first-inning sac fly and an errant pickoff try by Bears starter Hunter Thomas in the second.

Rohrer’s bases-loaded walk in the fourth stretched the advantage to 3-0, but Epps came on and got a double play to stymie the threat.

Gray starter Brady Thomas took a two-hitter into the fifth, but walked the bases loaded.

Then Kambesis ripped a 1-1 pitch into right, clearing the bases and tying the game.

Working his third inning of relief behind Thomas, Gray’s Damon Kreider walked Nick Sweigart to lead off the eighth.

He struck out Epps, got Brady Lefever on a pop to first and buried Longenecker 0-2 before wasting a pitch.

Longenecker got all of the next pitch, setting the stage for a deliriously happy trip back up Route 283.

Drew Keller starts the game on the mound for Lititz.

Tommy Smeltz pitches for Manheim Township.

Tyler Russell slides safely home for Manheim Township.

Cole Hoffman pitches in relief for Manheim Township.

Michael Perezous lays down a bunt for Lititz.

Hunter Thomas starts on the hill for Bears.

Sam Epps relieves for Bears.

Brady Thomas throws for Solanco.