Back in the sluggin’ ’70s, a simpler time when 35 homers or so would lead the major leagues, when a batter hit a home run it was said he “dialed 8”.
Dialing eight being the way a hotel guest would access long distance.
Homers. Long distance. Still with me?
The Strasburg/Willow Street White Sox punched the “8” button early and often Thursday night, defeating Rheems Gray 11-0 in the opening game of the 65th New Era Tournament Junior-Midget division quarterfinals.
The Sox (29-5-1) slugged three home runs and scalded four doubles off the 10-foot-high fence at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.
The White Sox will face Lititz VFW in the first game of Monday’s semifinal doubleheader, set for 6 p.m.
Lititz (16-6-1) eliminated Conestoga Valley Black 4-0 in Thursday’s nightcap behind the pitching of lefthander Travis Reapsome and the slugging of third baseman Adam Rohrbach.
The extra-base extravaganza was part of a 14-hit attack for SWS that supported the two-hit pitching of the troika of Brett Brooks, Sam Meck and Alex Brown.
Brooks went the first three innings, yielding just Shawn Szvios’ third-inning single.
Meck came on behind him to pick up the win, only allowing Luke Longenecker’s sixth-inning single.
Rheems (8-15) did have baserunners, 10 in all, but the Sox turned two double plays to blunt rallies and Meck and company did the rest.
“I just went after them with my fastball, threw strikes,” said Meck. “I throw hard enough I knew they probably weren’t going to catch up to it, so I wouldn’t have to throw my curveball much.”
The Sox were on the attack coming out of the chute and never let up.
“We like to get up early,” Meck offered. “We don’t like to wait around too long.”
Regan Hershey led off the game with a bunt single and Matt Wright drilled a two-bagger high off the fence in right.
Losing pitcher Grant Dohner got ahead of Meck, 0-1, then challenged him. “I was really sitting back on the fastball,” Meck said.
He got the fastball and, just as fast, it left the yard, well out of left field.
Three batters in SWS had a lead it would not relinquish.
That was just as start as Regan Hershey scored Josh Wright on an infield out in the second inning.. Brooks hit a solo home run in the fourth and Brooks and Kyle Horner singled in runs in the fifth.
Josh Wright’s solo shot made it 8-0 in the sixth inning and the Sox added three runs in the seventh on a balk, an error and Josh Wright’s RBI hit.
In the second game, Reapsome tossed a four-hit shutout, walking three and striking out 17.
He sailed along until the seventh when CV (11-6-1) loaded the bases on a double by Zach Rider, an error and a walk. Reapsome nailed down the win, getting Brendon Martin to ground out to first base to end the game.
“I was getting most of my strikeouts on my curveball,” said Reapsome, who set up hitters with a fastball that brought memories of Tug McGraw’s “Peggy Lee” fastball.
Martin started for CV and yielded an unearned run in the first inning when Ben Keyser reached on an error and scored on a base hit by Ian Hart.
Lititz would load the bases that inning, and again in the second and third innings, all three innings with two out.
Other than Hart’s marker, they walked away emptyhanded each inning.
“Our goal was to get (Martin) to throw a lot of pitches,” said Lititz coach Jeff High. “We just couldn’t get that two-out hit.”
Seth Earle led off the VFW fourth with a walk and Reapsome was hit by a pitch. Hart bunted the runners over, bringing Rohrbach to the plate.
He ripped the first pitch from Martin, high over left field and well into the Mount Joy night.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit; hit past the drawn-in infielders,” Rohrbach said. “It felt good off the bat. Very (good).”
“I figured we’d keep plugging away and see what happens,” said High.
“Earl Weaver would’ve loved that. It’s old Orioles baseball, good pitching and three-run homers.”
Rohrback was the last batter Martin faced as Nathan Staffieri came on in relief. Staffieri tamed the beast, striking out eight of the nine batters he faced, seven looking.
Impressive, but too late to extend CV’s season.