Township rallies past St. Leo for LNP crown

Manheim Township Black poses with championship medallions and trophy.

By Dave Byrne
LNP Correspondent

His Manheim Township Black teammates call Matt Turman, not surprisingly, the Terminator.

Turman terminated St. Leo’s Cinderella story Monday night, driving in the winning run to give MT Black a 6-5 victory and the Midget championship of the 62nd LNP Tournament.

Turman’s seventh-inning, bases-loaded, one-out rip to left field – over a drawn-in infield and outfield – plated Tyler Stoltz, who had set the game-ending drama in motion

Tyler Deshong began the rally with a walk and Stoltz, Black’s cleanup hitter got the bunt sign from his coach, John Dochterman.

Instead, Stoltz lashed the first pitch he saw into the left field corner for a double.

“It still got the runner to third,” he offered, “so I did the job, I guess.”

It certainly put St. Leo in a real pickle, second and third and nobody out.

Andrew McVey was intentionally walked to set up a force at home, which St. Leo got when Frank Defilippo grounded to shortstop.

That moved Stoltz 90-feet closer to ending the game.

“(Matt) was hitting the ball well all night,” said Stoltz. “I had confidence he was going to get the big hit.”

Turman had put the ball in the air three times during the evening, with two fly outs to center and an RBI single to left in the middle of Black’s 4-run fourth-inning rally.

“I was thinking just get it to the outfield,” Turman said. “I looked for first pitch fastball, he gave me one, and I just put as much as I could into it.”

“We just ran out of magic, I guess,” said St. Leo coach Paul Jankowski, whose squad rode a pair of upsets to the championship game.

“We got that one (out) and I thought just one more, just one more.  It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Earlier, it looked like maybe it would be St. Leo’s night.

They used a walk, an infield hit and a pair of fielding errors to post two first-inning runs.

They picked up a third run in the third inning as Travis Jankowski tripled off the wall in right field and Kevin Darby scored him on a first-pitch suicide squeeze bunt.

Darby was safe, but was nailed trying to steal second on a great throw by catcher Tyler Deshong.

The next batter, David Perales, singled and was also erased stealing by Deshong.

Instead of a budding rally, and momentum, St. Leo (9-6-1) had just the single score.

St. Leo made it 4-1 on Steve Remley’s fourth-inning single, a hit that chased an unusually ineffective Mark Jones, who got the start for Township.

But Black coach John Dochterman knew his team had dodged a big bullet in the third.

“A two or three-run inning would’ve done us in, probably,” he said.

“The key was, they were only (scoring) single runs,” he continued. “We were only half a rally away from anything.”

In their half of the fourth, Township (17-4) got a full rally.

Black’s Andrew McVey had broken St. Leo’s 15-inning scoreless string with a first inning RBI single, but St. Leo starter Steve Darrenkamp seemed in command as he retired Township on popups and lazy fly balls.

However, he was also nursing a sore arm and when Township opened the fourth inning with a walk and two singles, Darrenkamp was gone.

Township would eventually score four runs, a rally identical to the one thrown at Lititz on Sunday night, taking a 5-4 lead.

“Sooner or later,” said Dochterman with no conceit, “we’re going to get you. You can’t hold a good team down.”

“We’ve hit the ball well all season,” Turman added. “We were confident (if) we hit the ball … we’ll get it done.”

The first of two keys to Township’s win was the stellar relief of Chris Thorsen, who picked up the win with 3 1/3 innings of no-hit ball.

“I’d been watching the game, to get a feel for where the umpire was calling strikes,” said Thorsen, who threw a 50/50 mix of curves and fastballs.

He threw 27 strikes on 38 pitches, silencing St. Leo’s bats.

St. Leo did reach Thorsen for an unearned run on Deshong’s passed ball, a run that tied the game in the fifth.

It was the only flub on the night for the catcher known as “Javy” – an obvious homage to one-time Atlanta Braves standout Javy Lopez.

Deshong’s play behind the plate was the second key and he denied St. Leo once more in the sixth when he picked courtesy runner Devon Dombrowski off first on a missed bunt.

“If we would’ve got him to second base,” Jankowski wondered, “who knows what would’ve happened.”

Instead, Thorsen got two strikeouts, three groundouts and the biggest win of his pitching career.

NOTES: The championship was Dochterman’s first in four LNP tries. His 1998 squad got to the midget final but lost to Manheim.

This Township team is largely the same side that won the LNP Junior-Midget title in 2005.

This is Township’s first Midget title since 1991.

In winning both the J-M and Midget titles, Township becomes the first organization since 1982 to accomplish that feat.

Township coach John Dochterman raises his hat in victory.

Veteran coach savors his first tourney title

By Keith Schweigert
LNP Sports Editor

As his team celebrated its 6-5 victory over St. Leo’s in the LNP Tournament Midget championship game Monday night, Manheim Township Black coach John Dochterman kept the winner’s trophy locked in a white-knuckle grip, his face beaming.

It took a long time for the veteran coach to win his first LNP title, and he wanted to savor it.

“This is pretty awesome,” the affable 53-year-old said. “It feels unbelievable to finally get one. I’ve been (to the finals) before, but this is my first title.”

Dochterman has coached LNP Tournament teams at various levels for 12 years. He’s been to the championship game four times, his last visit coming in 1998, when Township fell to Manheim VFW, 7-2.

Dochterman is a baseball lifer. He estimates he’s spent almost 20 years coaching baseball at some level, starting back when his oldest son began playing tee-ball.

These days, he coaches at Manheim Township High School in addition to his work with Township Black, and also helps out with Township’s team in the Lancaster Optimist League.

“We’re in the playoffs (there),” he said. “We play Smitty’s Cardinals tomorrow night. I can’t coach them because of my commitments here, but they tell me I’m their general manager.”

Monday night’s victory was a great payoff for the countless hours Dochterman devotes to his team, both in and out of the dugout.

Like many youth baseball coaches, he understands running a team is more than setting lineups and shagging flies.

There’s the constant phone calls to remind players – and their parents – about upcoming games, making sure no one schedules a vacation on the same date as, say, the LNP Tournament.

Then there are the travel arrangements, field maintanence and – of course – long hours of pitching in batting practice sessions.

When Township Black doesn’t have a game on its schedule, Dochterman invites his team to come out to the field at Lancaster Bible College to hit some balls.

“We have a bucket full of about 50 balls, and we pitch to each kid until it’s empty,” he said. “Sometimes we even go two rounds if it’s not too dark. My arm is killing me these days.

“Coaches have do a lot of stuff no one thinks about. But this makes it all worthwhile.”

Township’s hard work paid off Monday night.

“I think all the swings the kids get in practice pay off in the games,” he said. “When you see the way we hit the ball, it’s hard to say it doesn’t.”

That was certainly the case on Monday, when the Black pounded out 11 hits, rallying from early deficits of 2-0 and 4-1.

St. Leo’s tied the game in the top of the fifth, but couldn’t withstand Township’s hitting barrage in the last inning.

Tyler Stoltz provided a clutch double down the left field line with a runner at first, putting the winning run on third with nobody out.

And Matt Turman came through with the big blow two batters later, launching a one-out smash over the left fielder’s head to plate Stoltz with the winning run.

Dochterman was quick to credit his players for bring the title home.

“I just rode their coattails and tried not to screw it up,” he said. “The kids were great all year.”

Township’s triumph was the perfect finish to a fine season, but Dochterman isn’t finished coaching yet. There’s the Optimist League playoffs this week, and the autumn leagues are just a few weeks away.

For a lifer like him, baseball never ends.

And he loves every second of it.

“This is fantasy-land,” he said. “I get to get out of the house a couple nights a week, leave the lawn unmowed and get to be part of a baseball game.

What could be better than that?”

Township Black players celebrate after winning the championship.

Retiring tournament commissioner Curt Aspril throws out the first pitch.

Township’s Andrew Peiffer tags out St. Leo’s David Perales at second base.

Township fans (from left) Phil Neslund, Darren Chillot, Ben Woratyla and Brian Sourber celebrate Black’s victory.