New Era Correspondent
The game had been over for quite a while. Trophies had been awarded. Pictures had been taken. The outfield lights had been turned off.
Yet a majority of the 12 young baseball players on the Safe Harbor Cubs roster were still milling around Kunkle Field in Mount Joy. They didn’t want to leave, and who could blame them. They’d waited exactly one year for this.
Safe Harbor 22, Mountville Indians 2 in the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament Midget-Midget Division championship game.
No, that’s not a misprint.
One year ago, the Cubs (29-8) were upset by Mountville 7-4 in the title game. Last night Harbor avenged that. In spades.
Cubs manager Carl Caruthers and his four returning players – Andrew Johnson, Alan Smith, Jarred Texter and Daniel Kauffman – had waited a year for this, but the Safe Harbor organization had waited much longer.
The last New Era M-M title that traveled back down Route 441 was claimed by legendary coach Bill Beakes, in 1969.
“I know it’s been quite a while and a long time coming,” Caruthers said. “We had a chance last year. It didn’t work out. Last year they jumped on us like we jumped on them.”
If Mountville jumped on Harbor in last year’s title contest (with a 5-run first inning), what Harbor did to Mountville (22-12) this year was like dropping a piano on them from the top of the Greist Building.
Harbor sent 16 batters to the plate in a 12-run first inning, banging out eight hits to complement five walks.
They chased Indians’ starter Keith Dowell after five batters. Dowell, who left Mountville’s semifinal victory with arm discomfort, was not sharp. He threw 13 balls and three called strikes in 19 pitches and was lifted after giving up two hits and three walks.
The Cubs treated his relief, Matt Ressler, just as rudely, with 10 hits in the first inning, then sent 15 to bat in a 10-run third.
In all, Harbor banged out 16 hits, five for extra bases, while walking seven times. All seven free passes scored.
Mountville manager Bob Sauders, one of the class coaches in local ball, made several false starts before he could talk of what he’d seen.
“This is… I can’t remem… I’ve never… In all my years I don’t think we’ve ever been beaten like that,” he said. “Not like that.
“I don’t like it,” he added with a hollow laugh. “But it happens, and I know that.”
It all began innocently enough. Johnson singled into left, then Dowell walked Smith and Texter, each on five pitches. Kauffman singled up the middle scoring Johnson and Smith, then Tyler Duschl walked on four pitches to re-load the bases.
Sauders came out for Dowell and Ressler wild pitched a run in before Kyle Caruthers singled off Brent Wile’s glove in right.
Andy Groff brought a run home with a groundout to short and Zach Costarella singled to the same place, scoring Caruthers. Zach Charles doubled and Johnson walked to load the bases anew.
After a force-out and a wild pitch, Texter tripled to the fence in right, scoring two runs. He then scored on a wild pitch. Kauffman walked and Duschl singled before Caruthers singled off Brent Wile’s glove at third, two more runs scoring.
“We struggled hitting all year long,” Carl Caruthers said. “Tonight, they came out and just pounded the ball. It was a little more than we expected.”
The same core group was at the heart of the third-inning uprising, too. Texter (2-for-3, 4 RBIs, 4 runs) had a walk and a two-run double in the inning. Kauffman (3-for-4, 4 RBIs, 4 runs) had an RBI single and RBI triple; Duschl (3-for-4, 3 RBIs, 3 runs) a 2-run triple and RBI single; Caruthers (3-for-4, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) singled and lived on an error.
“They just didn’t want to let up,” Caruthers said. “Tonight they were focused. They weren’t going to be denied.”
After Texter’s double, Sauders replaced Ressler with Mark Tangert, normally the Indians’ second baseman. Kauffman greeted him with a triple and Duschl singled. But Tangert settled in, allowing one hit and no runs the rest of the way.
“I should’ve started him,” Sauders said. “They came out and put the ball in play and we didn’t make some of the plays we should’ve made.
“That really surprised me because we had some really good practices. Last night (Monday) we really looked sharp. Today, before we came over, we really looked sharp. We were plenty loose. It just didn’t work out.”
As bad as things were going on defense, it was nearly as bad on offense, too. The Indians couldn’t solve Texter although they answered the Cubs’ outburst with a mini first inning of their own, scoring two runs, one earned.
Matt Johnson singled and stole over to third where he scored on a wild pitch to Brent Wile. Wile singled to center and took third on a 2-base error before coming home on twin-brother Cody’s ground out.
That was all Texter would allow as he capped an unbeaten tournament with a two-walk, 10 strikeout performance.
In three games, spanning 17 innings, opponents hit .184 against Texter (12-for-65) who walked four and struck out 38.
“We were happy we were up by that much,” Texter said. “But it’s hard to stay fired up.”
And how about winning it all after last year?
“It’s great to win it any year,” Texter said. “When you win this tournament , it feels like you’re the best. And we are.”
Texter evens score with buddies
By Toby Therrien
New Era Sports Writer
Jarred Texter learned Wednesday night that revenge isn’t quite as sweet when it comes a against a friend.
On the baseball field, Texter is a hard-throwing and crafty righthanded pitcher for the Safe Harbor Cubs, a Midget-Midget team that finished this summer with a 31-8 record.
Away from the field, Texter pals around with Brent and Cody Wile, twin brothers who play for the Mountville Indians, one of Safe Harbor’s rivals in the Penn Manor League.
It’s a friendly rivalry that took on a slightly more competitive edge when Mountville upset the powerful Cubs last year to win the New Era Tournament ‘s Midget-Midget championship.
So it was with mixed emotions when Texter took the mound at Kunkle Field last night for another New Era championship final against the Indians and his two friends.
Safe Harbor’s 22-2 victory felt good, Texter said, but not great.
“I’d rather play someone else,” said the kid they call Jughead, “but at least we won, so … It’s sort of tough to play against your friends.
“I didn’t really care anyway, though, I still wanted to win. We were thinking about revenge. It was basically about revenge.”
And Mountville knew it.
The Indians were profound underdogs before their 7-4 victory in the title game last summer. Nothing breeds revenge better than a good ol’ upset.
“We talked about that motivation being there for Harbor,” said Indians coach Bob Sauders. “We did upset them last year. And we were ready for that, we were expecting them to come out pumped up. They sure didn’t disappoint us in that regard.”
About the only person not talking about revenge, it seemed, was Cubs coach Carl Caruthers.
“We didn’t talk about it a lot,” said Caruthers, whose son Kyle played center field and went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Caruthers did spend quite a bit of time talking about being ready to play, especially after most of his players watched the favored West Lampeter Pioneers crash in a 6-5 loss to Hempfield Black in the Junior-Midget final on Monday night.
“Being a favorite coming in here, you still have to come out and play the game,” he said. “Revenge factor? No, I don’t think so. I don’t remember bringing it up.”
A more accurate assessment might come from the scorebook, where the first four players in Safe Harbor’s batting order are holdovers from last year’s team.
Andrew Johnson, Alan Smith, Texter and Danny Kauffman were a combined 11-for-19 at the plate and scored 15 of Safe Harbor’s 22 runs.
Texter not only struck out 11 Indians, but he scored four runs and drove in four more with a first-inning triple and a double in the third.
Kauffman also scored four runs, drove in three, and followed Texter’s double in the third with a triple through the rightfield gap.
Seventeen hits from a team that Caruthers swears struggled at the plate this summer? Could it be anything but revenge?
But all of the Cubs’ good-natured competitive spirit was driven by a deeply held belief that Safe Harbor was again a team of tremendous talent.
Everything the Cubs did this summer was geared towards proving it.
They played in tournaments just about every weekend.
They won the division title with a 12-1 record against a group that featured two tough teams in the Willow Street Cardinals and Lancaster Township.
Then Texter pitched eight innings to beat Willow Street 3-2 for the Penn Manor League championship.
“And then once we got here,” Caruthers said of the New Era Tournament , “we wanted this … we wanted this.
“The team sets its goals. We walked away and let them sit around and talk about what they wanted to do. Then we kind of changed our coaching philosophy a little bit. The team still wanted to have fun, but they wanted to win.”
And this time, they did.