New Era Correspondent
It’s déjà vu all over again in the Midget-Midget Division championship game of the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament.
For the second straight year the Mountville Indians and the Safe Harbor Cubs will meet for the title, currently held in Mountville’s firm grasp by virtue of a 7-4 upset victory over heavily favored Harbor last year.
Harbor (28-8) reached this year’s finals on the strong and well-rested right arm of Jarred Texter, who walked one and struck out 15 in a 6-1 victory over the Warwick Phillies in the nightcap of a doubleheader Tuesday night in Mount Joy.
Mountville (22-11) punched its finals ticket with a 10-run fourth inning that cemented a 12-1 win over Manheim VFW in Tuesday night’s opener.
Throwing a strong fastball and a wicked curveball, Texter dominated the Phillies (33-3). He struck out every starter at least once, save Pete Andrelczyk.
Andrelczyk tripled in the first inning and scored on a balk. He walked in the sixth. The only other Phil to reach base was Brandon Geib, on an error.
“What can you say, he’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Phils’ coach Bob Thompson said, tipping his hat.
“We just didn’t put the ball in play or get many hits. You’ve got to give him all the credit. It just goes to show what he can do when he gets some rest.”
“It helps, pitching in the dark,” said Texter, who was making his first pitching appearance of the week and prepped for the game with some serious couch time. “You can’t really see the ball as well with the lights and everything.
“That’s sort of an advantage for a guy with a curveball.”
He said it was the best curveball he’s had this year.
Cubs’ coach Carl Caruthers agreed, gushing, “Definitely! (It had) A lot of break. He looked really sharp.”
Texter left his fingerprints all over Harbor’s offense, too. He singled in the first inning and scored ahead of Danny Kauffman’s opposite-field homer to left field.
He started another two-out rally in the third with a single and was balked to second by Matt Jones. Texter then scored from second when Jones couldn’t field Kauffman’s grounder up the firstbase line.
Harbor added a pair in the fourth on Zach Charles’ sacrifice bunt and Andrew Johnson’s base hit and closed out the scoring an inning later. Steve Groff, running for Kauffman, scored all the way from first on a three-base error on Tyler Duschl’s grounder to second.
It was the best kind of revenge for Harbor, which had lost three of four games vs. the Phillies this year.
“They beat us pretty good the first time, 12-1,” Thompson said, “and then we beat them three times in between.”
“The last game we played ’em they sort of rubbed it in on us in a tournament game,” Texter claimed. “We sort of wanted this game the most.”
In the opener Mountville didn’t exactly spray the ball all over the yard. But the Indians were patient enough at the plate to reap the benefit of the total meltdown of Manheim’s pitching in the fateful fourth.
Mountville accepted seven walks in the inning and knocked five hits, including a pair of RBI singles by Matt Ressler, a 2-run double by Matt Johnson and a double by Brandon Way that began the carnage.
“We’ve been off for three weeks,” said VFW coach Ken Barbush, whose squad had a bye into the semifinals. “I really think that hurt our staff on the mound.”
Keith Dowell started and worked 3 2/3 innings for the Indians before leaving the game. Manheim (17-9) nicked him for an unearned run in the third on a two-out error and D.J. Royal’s high bouncer, which dropped behind the mound. It would be Manheim’s only hit.
Mountville jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Damian Himpsl doubled home Matt Johnson and scored on Cody Wile’s RBI groundout.
It was 2-1 after three innings and Chad Moyer was doing a good job of keeping Mountville at bay. However, when Way doubled and Ressler singled him home to start the fourth, Moyer’s day was over.
And Manheim’s nightmare was about to begin. Matt Sutter and Paul Moyer were the main victims of the uprising, which ended when Tom Kenneff took off his catcher’s gear and struck out Himpsl and Brent Wile to end the horror.
“We were just a little out of synch,” Barbush said. “If we could’ve done a little better on the mound, we might’ve kept the game a litle more respectable. Once it got 5-1, 6-1, I knew it would be real hard for us to come back.”
Ressler, who finished out the fourth for Dowell, retired the side in order in the fifth to put the Indians in their third M-M title game in four years.
“It was a strange game,” Indians’ coach Bob Sauders said. “It was so close there, and then all of a sudden… that’s all she wrote!”
And now it is written, the two Penn Manor League rivals will face each other yet again.
“We have some unfinished business with Mountville on Wednesday,” Texter said, “and we hope we can get it this year.”
The Cubs will be favored again, at least in the eyes of Indians coach Bob Sauders.
“We’ll definetly be the underdog,” he vowed.
Which could mean the Indians have Harbor right where they want it.