New Era Correspondent
The inning was a total disaster.
Or a fantastic rally.
It all depends on your point of view.
Held scoreless for the first six innings, Solanco exploded for nine runs in the top of the seventh inning and defeated Manheim VFW 9-2 in the first game of a New Era Midget Tournament first-round doubleheader Monday night in Clipper Magazine Stadium.
In the second game, the Lititz Oddfellows pushed across a run in the seventh to edge Comet Blue 3-2.
Monday night’s winners will meet next Monday in the first game of a semifinal doubleheader at 5:15 p.m. back at the Clip.
With Manheim’s Casey Ebersole and Solanco’s Dan Wimer dueling on the mound through six innings, Monday’s drama was taut and the intensity crackled.
Ebersole had a four-hit shutout through six, while Wimer, who allowed five hits, trailed 2-0 on Lowen Johnson’s two-run triple to left in the third inning on a ball that could been caught.
When asked after the game if he was preparing his “great season guys; it’s been a pleasure coaching you” speech, Solanco coach Dave Thomas replied, “Well, no. I thought we had a pretty decent shot. We just hadn’t cashed anybody in.”
Brad Dunn opened the paymaster’s window, reaching on a bobble by Johnson at short — who had, until then, a sure-handed game.
A walk and an infield single loaded the bases and Solanco (10-6) got on the board when second baseman Zac Michon booted a dead double play ball.
Another error charged to Johnson tied the game and Ralph Brown’s infield single to third plated the go-ahead — and eventual winning — run.
For Manheim (12-5-1), the horror was far from over.
Ebersole hit Brock Snider — whom he had struck out three times previously — to force in the fourth run before Ebersole finally got an out, and then another.
Thus far, Solanco hadn’t really hit the ball. All that changed as Dan Stoltzfus and Dunn each crushed two-run singles to left.
Stoltzfus’ hit ended Ebersole’s night on the mound, and with Josh McClenaghan relieving, Thomas beat out an infield single to short, plating the ninth run.
“I’ve been on the other end of that,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of better being on my end.”
And a better result than the last time these teams met.
“The last time we played these guys it was a real tight game,” Thomas said, “but it went their way and they ended up winning like 8-2.
“(Tonight) we got a few lucky breaks here and there. We hit the ball well. Everything went our way.”
Winning pitcher Jordan Donmoyer triggered the fateful rally for Lititz (12-5), delivering a single to right for his third hit of the game.
Courtesy runner Justin Nolt stole second base and, after designated hitter Andy Wooley walked, both runners advanced on a passed ball during J.T. Garner’s at-bat.
With Garner still at the plate, losing pitcher Zach Buterbaugh uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Nolt with the eventual winning run.
It was a sweet turn of fate for Nolt, who had been erased at home earlier in the game while trying to score on a wild pitch.
“He redeemed himself on the next opportunity,” Lititz coach Frank Camera offered with a smile. Trailing 1-0, Lititz took the lead in the fourth on Donmoyer’s RBI bunt base hit, scoring Kyle Keener, who had doubled, and Garner’s sacrifice fly.
Donmoyer, who labored on the mound, still had enough to hold the Comets (11-7) to just four hits while walking five and striking out seven.
He surrendered a first-inning RBI double to Andrew Hershey, who nicked him again in the fifth.
With two outs and Tanner Kennedy at second, Hershey lifted a moderately deep flyball to left field.
Adam Zipko got a great jump on the ball and had it lined up, but dropped it, allowing Kennedy to tie the game.
“(Zipko’s) normally money on it,” Camera said. “In two years I haven’t seen him drop a ball like that.”
When Hershey came to the plate in the Comets’ seventh, with the tying run at second and two outs, Camera intentionally walked him, putting the winning run on.
“I respect Hershey’s bat; you saw his first couple at-bats,” Camera said. “I wanted the force play if it was in the infield.”
Zipko, who pitched the seventh in relief of Donmoyer, then struck out Josh Longsderff to send the Oddfellows into next week’s semifinals.