By Keith Schweigert
Special to the New Era
Despite the fact that 25 runs were scored in Saturday’s two New Era Tournament midget quarterfinal games at Lampeter-Strasburg, the winning pitchers provided most of the highlights.
In the opening game, Solanco’s Scott Haverstick limited Manheim Township to just two hits and one run in an 8-1 victory.
In the second game, Willow Street’s Curt Miller retired 16 in a row and then watched his team hold off a rally by Reamstown for a 10-6 win. With their victories, Solanco and Willow Street advance to a head-to-head clash in the midget semifinals on Friday at 6:15 p.m. at Manheim Township.
Solanco’s Haverstick shook off some trouble in the first inning to dominate Township for the rest of the game. Township scored its only run in the first when Colby Mills, who coaxed a walk, scored on an RBI single by centerfielder Kevin Coffey.
For at least one inning, it looked like that one run might have been enough for Township, as losing pitcher Tom Dodson blew by the top third of Solanco’s batting order with three strikeouts.
But Solanco was able to take advantage of Dodson’s slow windup and some crucial errors by Township to turn the game around.
Third baseman Chad Shirk tied it for Solanco in the top of the second. After leading off the inning with a single, Shirk stole second and took third on a passed ball.
After catcher Matt Wimer drew a walk to put runners at the corners, Shirk attempted to steal home. The play at the plate would’ve been close, but batter Greg Aument dropped a perfect bunt to allow Shirk to score with ease.
Later in the inning, Solanco took a 2-1 lead when Jeff Argue drove in Wimer with a single.
Solanco made it 5-1 in the fourth inning when Aument and Argue drew walks to lead off the inning. Haverstack scored Aument on a bunt single, while Argue scored on Travis Morrison’s ground out to second. After Chris Dearolf was hit by a pitch, Haverstack scored when Dearolf was caught in a rundown trying to steal second.
Shirk led off the fifth inning with a single, and then stole second and third. After Lee Dewitt walked, Wimer scored Shirk with a sacrifice fly to right that also moved Dewitt to third.
Dewitt then scored Solanco’s seventh run by stealing home, again taking advantage of Dodson’s slow windup. For the game, Solanco stole a total of nine bases, with Shirk and Dewitt combining to swipe eight.
Solanco scored its last run off reliever Colby Mills on an RBI single by Dewitt in the seventh.
While Solanco scored easily, Township found the going much rougher against Haverstick, who went seven innings, walked four and struck out four.
“After pitching in the hot weather last weekend, Haverstick learned that he doesn’t have to overpower everything,” said Solanco coach Dave Aument. “After the first inning he went to changing speeds and throwing strikes, and it works.”
Aument said that it didn’t take long for Solanco to realize it could benefit from Dodson’s windup.
“After that first suicide squeeze attempt, we realized that he took a long time to deliver,” said Aument. “That squeeze could’ve been a clean steal if that batter hadn’t bunted.”
Willow Street’s Miller also had his trouble in the first inning of the second game as Reamstown smacked three straight hits to start the game. Quint Zwally, Carl Gundrum, and Brian Gehman singled, with Gehman driving in Zwally to give Reamstown a 1-0 lead. Gundrum later scored on a sacrifice fly by losing pitcher Eric Ackerman.
But Miller calmed down after that, retiring 16 in a row following Gehman’s single before losing control in the sixth.
While Miller was in his groove, his teammates wasted little time in eliminating the lead they’d spotted Reamstown.
Down 2-1 in the third, Willow Street’s offense came to life, scoring four runs. They were aided by two Reamstown errors, including one on Gundrum at shortstop that allowed two runs to score. Fred Ruiz added an RBI single in the inning, while the fourth run came in on an error by Matt Burns.
Willow Street got four more in the fourth inning. With one out, Seth Rife drew a walk, then stole second. After Kauffman struck out and Euston was hit by a pitch, Brian Bowen drove in Rife with an RBI single. Euston scored when the ball went out of play on the relay from right field. Ruiz then slugged a two-run homer to left to give Willow St. a 9-2 edge.
Reamstown made a game of it in the sixth inning when Miller fell out of his groove. After retiring Zwally to start the inning, Miller hit Gundrum and Gehmen with pitches and gave up a single to Ackerman to load the bases. He then walked Nick Fasnacht to give up a run.
Miller was then pulled for reliever Scott Harsh, who retired Larry Pugliese on a RBI ground out. But Doug Wise then followed with a two-run triple to make the score 9-6.
“I don’t know what happened to him (Miller) at the end of the game,” said Willow Street coach Don Frank. “He only threw about 70 pitches at that point. He just sort of lost the strike zone. But when you have a good pitcher like Scott Harsh, you just bring him in.”
Harsh didn’t allow another Reamstown baserunner from there, and Willow Street added a run in the bottom of the sixth to put the game away.
“We had some timely hits with two outs today,” said Frank. “But they didn’t play the defense today. They made some crucial errors, and they could’ve made it a lot closer if it hadn’t been for that.”