BY DAVE BYRNE
Bryce Behmer and John Seibert can clear a fence or two.
They each cleared the friendly confines of Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field Monday night, leading their respective teams to 10-run rule victories and into tonight’s semifinals of the LNP Midget-Midget Tournament.
Behmer stroked a three-run home run over left center, keying a six-run first inning, and the Manheim Township Streaks bested the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals 11-1 in the opener of a quarterfinal twinbill.
Seibert drilled a grand slam on a trolley wire to dead center, the highlight of a seven-run fourth inning, that delivered the Warwick Phillies’ 11-1 win over the Cocalico Eagles.
Cocalico and SWS meet at Kunkle tonight at 6 p.m. in an elimination game. Twenty minutes following the conclusion of that contest, the Streaks and Phillies will face off in the championship semis.
Seibert’s slam came in the middle of an eruption four innings in the making. After Cocalico took a 1-0 lead on Jude Anthony’s RBI single in the top of the first, Warwick (39-6) struck for four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Perhaps, struck is too strong a term. Eagles (16-9) starter Andrew Zenttner couldn’t record an out, walking three and hitting a batter. Ethan Minnich greeted reliever Austin Porter with a tworun single off the fence in right
Porter restored order over the next two innings, but loaded the bases in the fourth on Cam Hess’ single and back-toback walks to Trey Glass and Zach Shertzer. With Seibert stepping to the plate, Ian Martin came on in relief of Porter.
Seibert took a mighty swing at Martin’s first offering, and missed it, creating a mighty breeze.
“It was a slider,” said Seibert, “and I was like ‘ Holy crap! What was that?’ Then I saw a fastball right down the middle and I just swung at it.”
He looked fastball and got it. Got all of it.
“It was my line-drive swing,” he said. “If I go for singles, it just goes. And there it went.”
After a strikeout, Minnich tripled off the fence in right center and scored on an error on Hunt’s grounder to second. Colin Brubaker kept the inning going and Hess knocked in the 10th and 11th runs with a double to center.
“We couldn’t get into a good groove, both on the mound and at the plate,” Phillies coach Todd Shertzer observed. “We were definitely working backwards a lot on both sides of it.”
Seibert, who went the first 2 1/3 innings before leaving on the LCYBL’s pitch count rule, new this year and very like Little League’s pitch count rule, got the win with Colin Brubaker and Hess limiting the Eagles to Porter’s fifth-inning double.
The Cardinals (12-15) came into the tournament as somewhat of a giant killer, having knocked out the Mountville Indians in the best-of-three qualifier — the first time Mountville was not in the NET since 2000.
But Township (20-1) wasted little time disarming the SWS slingshot, batting around plus one in the first inning.
Cards starter Ethan Hackman walked Evan Proulx and Nick Kurtz with one out before Behmer sent them home, stroking a 3-2 pitch toward the Little Chiques Creek.
“I wasn’t really trying to hit (a homer),” said Behmer, who’s stroked 10 so far this season. “I was just trying to put it in play, get a few runs in. I wasn’t sure (it was out) at first. Once the center fielder turned back, I knew.”
Before the Streaks were finished Colin Fitzgerald knocked in a run with a groundout and Kyle Denton and Connor Vucovich hit runscoring singles.
The pitch count rule shortened the evening for Streaks starter Nick Kurtz, who left with Mark Roberts aboard on a walk in the third inning. Proulx came on in relief, yielding singles to Hackman and Taso Kovack to load the bases. Logan Davidson’s infield single to deep short scored Roberts, but Proulx settled in and closed out the win with 2 2/3 innings of three-hit ball.
Township kept pecking away at the Cardinals, scoring an unearned run in the second inning and one on Colin Arms’ RBI hit in the fourth.
Taking an 8-1 lead into the fifth, the Streaks set the stage for the 10-run rule on Vucovich’s RBI groundout and Kurtz’s run-scoring double to left. It fell to Behmer to bring down the curtain as he singled into left, scoring Kurtz with the “winner”.