Solanco proves Yogi right, rallies past Warwick after Hempfield romps in Era quarterfinals

Ben Miller scores for Solanco, as Zach Shank waits for ump’s call.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

Yogi Berra would have had to say, “I told you so.”

One of the New York Yankee legend’s most famous quotes was played out in the New Era Midget Baseball Tournament Tuesday night.

“It ain’t over until it’s over” was proven anew as the Solanco midget-midgets, on the brink of extinction, rallied in their final at-bat to defeat the Warwick Phillies, 10-9.

The comeback victory earns Solanco (22-8) a berth in next Tuesday’s midget-midget semifinals opposite Hempfield Black, which routed Denver, 28-0, in Tuesday night’s opening game at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.

Kyle Beane’s one-out, bases-loaded double chased home three runs and capped Solanco’s winning rally.

With his team trailing 9-6, Solanco’s Scott Robinson reached base on a bad-hop single off shortstop Zach Shank. Wes Foley followed with a double inside the bag at first, sending Robinson to third with nobody out.

Warwick pitcher Zach Snyder got Jason Long to bounce back to him, but Robinson scored during a fielder’s choice rundown that eventually erased Foley.

The situation became worsened for Snyder when he walked Ray Brackin and Ben Miller to load the bases, bringing Beane to the plate. In the third inning, Beane had delivered Solanco’s fifth run in a disciplined at-bat in which he fouled off six pitches. In the fifth, Beane reached on a bunt single and scored Solanco’s sixth run.

The 12-year-old second baseman was calm as he approached the plate in the sixth.

“We’d just scored a run, and the bases were loaded with one out,” he said. “We couldn’t let any outs go. I just had to hit the ball, put it in play (and) things would happen.”

He fouled off Snyder’s first offering, then ripped the next pitch into the alley in right, pulling into second as Miller crossed the plate with the winning run.

“I knew they weren’t going to get it,” Beane said, “so I just kept running.”

Beane’s heroics eclipsed the efforts of Michael Freeman, who went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs for the Warwick Phillies (26-7). Solanco carried a 5-1 lead into the fourth inning and had the bases loaded with two out. Brackin drove a shot into right-center, but Mark Stuckey closed on the ball and made a great diving catch, saving three runs.

Thus inspired, the Phillies rallied for six runs in the top of the fifth, capped by Freeman’s 2-run single to left through a drawn-in infield. He then scored on Josh Watson’s double, giving Warwick a 7-5 lead.

Freeman’s RBI single to left made it 9-6 in the top of the sixth. But in the end, it was not to be.

“Heartbreaking,” said Warwick coach Randy Yost. “The first two innings, with the errors we had and not hitting, we were fighting uphill. I thought we had the momentum at the end. I liked our chances of protecting a 3-run lead.”

“Credit our kids,” said Solanco coach Jeff Miller. “They didn’t give up. You can’t get a better win than that.”

In the opener, Hempfield Black (29-7) pounded out 22 hits, led by four-hit games from outfielders Mike Cosimano and Aaron Moul, who scored four runs apiece. Cosimano hit a solo home run.

Catcher John Fortna scored five runs and winning pitcher Brandan Hinkle drove in five runs. Shortstop Mark Merrifield knocked in three and third baseman Jordan Arment, who got hit in the face with a breaking ball leading off the first inning, came back to score three runs and drive in two.

Taken out of the game for ice-bag therapy, Arment, who interrupted a vacation at Dewey Beach, Delaware to play this game, told his father, assistant coach Rob Arment, “I’m going back in. I didn’t come three hours to sit and watch.”

The game began innocently enough. Denver (8-3), showing good aggression on the bases, had a runner thrown out at home in the top of the first inning and retired Hempfield in order after Arment was hit by the pitch.

But it went awry for the Cocalico League representative from there and the 10-run mercy rule, as applied in this tournament, could provide no shelter from the storm.

Hempfield scored 10 runs in the second inning, seven in the third and 11 in the fourth while Hinkle only allowed a pair of singles by Denver catcher Austin Good to earn a 5-walk, 14-strikeout shutout.

Hempfield’s Aaron Moul (3) slides under the tag of Denver’s T.J. Sinnott.

Denver’s Jason Kuch (23) attempts the tag on Hempfield’s Mark Merrifield.

Denver’s Austin Good (13) and Spencer Nissly (54) await the throw trying to get Hempfield’s Mark Merrifield.

Hempfield’s Mike Cosimano heads for home, where Denver’s Phil Leid snags the throw.

Brandan Hinkle cranks up for Hempfield.

Solanco’s Ben Miller slides into home as Zach Shank has trouble handling the ball.