Usual suspects ready to battle in M-M tourney

By Dave Bryne
New Era Correspondent

Hopefully, when Ron Wagner elects to retire from his day job, it will last longer than his retirement from coaching youth baseball.

By all appearences, Mt. Joy Blue’s venerable coach went out on top last year as his team defeated Hempfield Black 5-0 to win the Midget-Midget title, Wagner’s first.

But it’s hard to say goodbye to something you love. So, here is Wagner, with a whole new cast, ready to do it again.

This year’s M-M tournament promises to be as competitive as last year’s. No surprise since seven of the eight teams from last year return.

Manheim VFW Maroon, which lost 2-1 to Manheim Twp. Black in a play-in qualifier last year, is the only new face.

One returning team has a new address. After decades of competing in the Susquehanna League, the Warwick Phillies moved to the Penn Manor League this year.

While the teams are largely the same, most of the players will be different as most of last year’s participants were promoted to the Junior-Midget level.

As they did last year, the Norlanco Redbirds kick off the tournament. The two-time Penn Manor League champions pair up with Hempfield Black, Thursday at 6 p.m. at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.

Manheim and the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals play in the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader, 20 mimutes after the end of the first game. This announced starting time is a change from previous years.

On Friday the quarterfinal round concludes with Mt. Joy Blue and the Warwick Phillies at 6 p.m., followed by the Moutville Indians and Marietta/Maytown Blue.

The semifinals will be held Monday, July 17 with the championship Tuesday the 18th. All games will be played at Kunkle Field.

Here’s a look at each team:

NORLANCO REDBIRDS
COACH: Mike Lowrie
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A Co-champion (league champion for the second straight year)
RECORD: 23-4
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: c/p Jake Rutt (.477, 4 HR, 34 rbi); 1b/p Andre Hoover (.418, 44 rbi); cf Tim Murray (35 runs, 45 sb); p John Armbrust (1.36 era, 47 K)

MOUNT JOY BLUE
COACH: Ron Wagner
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division Champion, League Champion
RECORD: 28-6
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1 (defending champion)
KEY PLAYERS: p/c Michael Robinson & 2b Dylan Houseal return from title team. p/1b Adam Frey; p/ss Michael Houseal.

MOUNTVILLE INDIANS
COACH: Bob Sauders
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A co-champion
RECORD: 38-13
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 7 (last, 2004)
KEY PLAYERS: ss John Wilt, p/of Colton King & of Adam Law return from last year’s semifinalists. Otherwise, Mountville is as young as it’s been in a long while.

MANHEIM VFW MAROON
COACH: Jeff Knosp
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division runner-up and league runner-up.
RECORD: 18-9
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 3 (last in 2000)
KEY PLAYERS: Manheim returns three from last year: ss/p Ryan Wilson, p/1b Josh Good & of Jeremy Patrick.

SWS CARDINALS
COACH: Phil Neff
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A 3rd place and league runnerup.
RECORD: 17-12
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1 (last in 1999, but the Willow St. Cardinals won 5 titles before merger with Strasburg.)
KEY PLAYERS: c/inf/p Matt McCrudden (.346); of Nate Shank (.318, 5 2b, 2 3b, 1 HR); p/2b Ray Lopez (.341); p/1b Pete Darrenkamp (.312).

MARIETTA/MAYTOWN BLUE
COACH: Bill Jones
LEAGUE: Susquehanna A Division 3rd place
RECORD: 12-15
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: c Joey Jaskot (.641 as leadoff); rf Alex Eichelberger (.317); ss/p Zach Bauer (.394); cf/ss/p Jeffrey Dixon (.290); 3b/2b Colby Rodenhauser (.302); 1b Michael Carlin (.500, 2 HR).

WARWICK PHILLIES
COACH: Jan Redding
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A 4th seed (advanced by forfeit over Susquehanna B League champion Rheems Astros in NET play-in qualifier)
RECORD: 17-11
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 2 (last in 1992)
KEY PLAYERS: ss Derek Adams (.324), p/c/3b Tommy Reapsome (.373) & of/p Shane Mearig (.342) return from last year. Also, 1b/of Justin Nolt (.488); c/p/of Brian Eshleman (.361)

HEMPFIELD BLACK
COACH: Bob Gantz
LEAGUE: Penn Manor Section 1A 5th seed (defeated Susquehanna A League 4th seed Penryn 6-0 in NET play-in qualifier)
RECORD: 10-20-1
NET CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 0
KEY PLAYERS: No players return from last year. However four moved up from M-M Red, including c Chris Madison & ss Ryan Leach. Top newcomers include 1b/p Nick Yarnall, ss/p Cory Gantz & 1b/c Nate Kulp.