Township returns to J-M title game

Manheim Township teammates watch from the dugout.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

Darren Yoder hadn’t pitched much this summer.

Recovering from an arm injury, he’d taken it slowly, throwing an inning of relief here and there for Manheim Township Black.

“We brought him along slowly,” said Black assistant Lew Chillot.  “Finally, with the layoff between the end of the (regular) season and this, he as able to get fully rested.”

He picked up the win in relief for Manheim Township Black in Friday night’s New Era Tournament Junior-Midget quarterfinals.

Monday night, he finally got a starting nod. And he made the most of it – pitching a complete game in Township’s 3-0 victory over Lititz VFW in the Junior-Midget semifinals at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.

The win sends Township, the defending J-M champion, to tonight’s championship game against the Mountville Angels.

Mountville defeated E-town Blue 13-5 in Monday’s first game.

The first pitch tonight is set for 7 p.m. at Kunkle Field.

While Township is the defending champ in name only – the entire roster from last year was turned over – it appears to be formidible again.

Yoder and VFW starter Adam Zipko locked up in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel last night.

Yoder allowed just two hits, but walked four and struck out seven.

He was helped immeasurably by a fine defensive effort behind him, and by Lititz running itself out of innings in the first, second and third.

“I got through some tight spots,” Yoder said.

Meanwhile Zipko, a side-arming righthander, allowed just four hits, two by Adam Yuninger, two by Matt Neil. He walked one, Darren Chillot in the third, and struck out 12.

“It’s difficult to hit (him), as most of our players experienced,” said Yuninger, who reached base all three times he was at the plate.

“He has that sidearm action. He flails his arms, and stuff like that. I just try to watch the ball, not to watch him do all those funky motions.”

Township stepped out in the first on a one-out single by Neil and Yuninger’s two-out single to left field.

They doubled their advantage in the third. With one out Chillot walked and took third on a hit-and-run single by Neil. Cameron Gallagher then knocked Chillot in with a ground out to short.

Yuninger, who was also hit by a pitch, capped his night by driving a solo home run over centerfield in the sixth.

“It was big to get that insurance run,” Yoder said. “I knew I could get some baserunners on, give up a couple runs, and still win the game.”

Baserunners? VFW had a few. Runs? None.

Yoder picked off Zipko, who had lived on an infield error, in the first.

Nate Lawrence hit an infield single in the hole at short in the second, but was thrown out by catcher Ben Woratyla, trying to steal third base.

Woratyla erased Deron Thompson stealing second in the third and Yoder had faced the minimum through three innings.

“That killed us,” said VFW coach Dave Erb. “We ran ourselves out.”

Yoder stranded Zipko, who walked in the fourth, by getting Lawrence to ground out to Gallagher at short, ending the inning.

After a walk and a single in the fifth, Yoder fanned Dylan Adams and Gallagher gobbled up big Dalton Sweigart’s grounder for a force at second.

A fly ball by Kyle Keener, the only ball hit to the outfield by Lititz, and a grounder on a nice play to his left by secondbaseman Jonathon Rieker, stranded Zipko in the sixth, after he once again walked.

Tiring as he neared the finish line, Yoder hit Austin Good leading off the seventh, but was saved by a great shoestring catch by Gallagher on a low liner off Matt Ruhl’s bat.

An error on J.T Garner’s grounder put two runners on, but Yoder struck out Dylan Haefner and Sweigart to end the game.

Manheim Township pitcher Darren Yoder fires against Lititz VFW.

Township’s Matt Neil slides home safely.

Darren Yoder gets congratulations from Coach Lew Chillot after shutting out Lititz VFW.