Steal of home, no-hitter spice Era Tourney games; Safe Harbor, Warwick advance to semifinals

Brandon Geib delivers for Warwick.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

Tyler Duschl’s steal of home capped yet another incredible defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory rally for the Safe Harbor Cubs, bringing them a 9-8 victory over the Ephrata Tigers Thursday in the Midget-Midget quarterfinals of the New Era Tournament .

The win advances Harbor (27-8) to a semifinal matchup with the Warwick Phillies, who blasted Reamstown 19-0, as Brandon Geib pitched a no-hitter in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Kunkle Field.

Duschl’s dash made a winner out of Jarred “Jughead” Texter who had a full dance card on Thursday.

Earlier in the day Texter shot a 38 for nine holes at Hawk Valley to win his division of the George Crudden Junior Golf Championship.

He threw almost that many pitches in the first inning Thursday night as the Tigers (22-3), taking advantage of two errors, raked him for four first-inning runs.

The Cubs got three back in the bottom of the first and tied the game in the second. Texter, who pitched eight innings Tuesday in the Penn Manor League championship game, wasn’t sharp and Ephrata regained the lead on an inside-the-park home run by Nick Clingan (3-for-3, 3 runs scored) and Brian Snyder’s sacrifice fly.

The Tigers’ 6-4 lead grew to 8-5 after 4 1/2 innings on an RBI single by John Layman (2-for-3) and Mark Thompson’s sacrifice bunt. Clingan, who walked four and struck out five while giving up seven hits, had one more trip through the Harbor lineup and needed six more outs to spark an upset victory.

That last trip through the lineup was a minefield from which Clingan, and the Tigers, never emerged.

“A tough game to lose, the kids gave it their all,” said Tigers’ coach Jim Hagey. “We knew we were in for a ballgame. We knew it was going to be tough. It was a tough call we had in the last inning, but that’s baseball.”

Clingan, who pitched with a deliberate delivery to the plate, had two outs and Zach Costarella buried 0-and-2. With Duschl coming, Snyder stepped in front of the plate to receive the pitch, a ball, and Duschl slid under the tag.

“(Third base) Coach (Tom Charles) drew a line in the dirt and said, “Once you reach that line, look, see what he’s (Clingan) doing and just go home.’ I was going on coach’s call,” Duschl said.

And when you got there? “I knew I was safe,” he smiled.

“We talk about it almost every game,” Cubs’ manager Carl Caruthers said. “We had, probably, our fastest runner on third. As slow as the pitcher’s delivery was there, we thought we’d give it a shot.”

It gave a shot to Texter, who puts the “horse” in workhorse. After his big day, he was looking forward to a date with an icebag. “I didn’t really have the heat on the ball that I normally do,” he said.

Still, he only walked one and struck out 13, giving up four earned runs. “I was just lucky to get by this game, really,” he said.

Including Thursday, four of the Cubs last six wins have come in their final at bat. No wonder Carl Caruthers is graying rapidly.

But he was gratified to see the team come out swinging the stick. Harbor got four of their seven hits in the first inning, then relied on execution the rest of the way. Andrew Johnson drove in a run on a second-inning sac fly and Texter (3-for-3) singled in a run in the third.

Johnson and Alan Smith each tripled and walked, scoring two runs apiece. Kauffman had a pair of sac flys and Duschl knocked home an early run with a single.

“The bats finally came around,” Caruthers said. “They haven’t hit for a while and we were joking around that I wished they’d get me three runs in the first inning. They finally did, but we were down by four!”

It’s never easy. “We’re still alive,” Caruthers said. “Still alive and waiting for our buddies from Warwick.”

One of those “buddies” is Geib, who walked one and struck out 13 hitters in his no-hitter, which was ended by the 10-run rule Thursday night.

At the plate, he led an 18-hit attack, going 4-for-4 with 3 runs scored and an RBI. The Phillies (33-2) scored five runs in the first inning and four more in the second and the rout was on.

Eric Rehm (3-for-4, 5 RBI) tripled home three runs in a four-run fifth for the Phils.

Bobby Thompson (2-for-2, 3 runs scored), Pete Andrelczyk (3-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBI) and Matt Jones (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI) sparked Warwick from the top of the order. Dan Abele (2-for-4) kept things alive at the bottom of the lineup.

Tyler Duschl steals home for Safe Harbor.