New Era Correspondent
Two days after his high school baseball season ended, Hempfield’s Matt Roberts sliced the thumb on his pitching hand with a table saw in shop class.
Last night at Manheim Township High School, Roberts sliced through Reamstown’s lineup like a buzzsaw.
The crafty southpaw – who hadn’t pitched in two weeks and had pitched only five times all summer because of the accident – hurled Hempfield to a 9-0 victory over Reamstown in a midget division opener in the 51st annual New Era Baseball Tournament.
Roberts went the distance, checking Reamstown on just three hits.
Tuesday’s victory came just a day after Hempfield (22-9) captured the Lanco Midget championship with a 5-4 win over Mount Joy. The Black Knights showed no letdown coming off that championship win, showcasing some solid hitting and fielding, and great pitching from Roberts.
Roberts did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and didn’t allow a runner past second base. He added a hit, an RBI, two runs, and three stolen bases to the cause.
Defensively, the Black Knights stopped rallies by turning three double plays after letting runners on after fielding errors. The twin killings made life a little easier for Roberts.
The 16-year-old, who says he’s “an outfielder by trade,” has won all five of his starts this summer. Last night, he admitted he was a little tired at the end of the game and compensated for his fatigue with smart, not overpowering, pitching.
“I tried to change speeds a lot and hit spots,” Roberts said. “I don’t care if I get a lot of strikeouts, I just want to get outs. I have a good defense behind me, so it’s OK if they hit it because somebody will catch it.”
Hempfield scored in every inning but the sixth and pounded out 11 singles in the game. An additional five runners reached base via bases on balls and were promptly moved around the bases with singles, bunts, and stolen bases, of which Hempfield had six.
“All we want to do is play fundamental baseball,” Hempfield coach Ken Gerber said. “We just want to do the simple stuff – no walks, run the bases, and catch the ball. We came out and made a few errors and that was just the jitters from a couple of players playing on a big field in the New Era Tournament for the first time, but we ended up doing all right after we got settled.”
Catcher Mike Bernhardt and rightfielder Trevor Seachrist each drove in a pair of runs for Hempfield. Steve Roberts, Matt’s younger brother, chipped in with a couple of hits, driving in one run and scoring another.
Still, it was the older Roberts’ night. “He had a great game,” Gerber said of his pitcher. “The other guys on the team see what he does and they follow suit. He’s what makes us go. He the sparkplug of this team.”
Sparkplug, buzzsaw, and everything else at the hardware store.