Willow Street, Manheim reach LNP semifinals behind excellent pitching

Pioneers’ Geoff LaSala scores while Adamstown catcher T.J. Driscoll goes after the ball.

By Dave Byrne
LNP Correspondent

It was Nick at night and pitchers’ delight as the Manheim Lions and the Strasburg/Willow Street Pioneers advanced to the junior-midget semifinals of the LNP Tournament .

Each team won games shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule. The Pioneers (18-8) ripped Adamstown VFW, 17-0, and the Lions (18-5) slugged the Ephrata Cardinals, 11-1, Monday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.

The two teams will meet next Monday at 6:15 p.m. in the first game of a NET semifinal doubleheader, back at Kunkle.

The starting pitchers in both games were the dominant players Monday night as Manheim’s Chad Moyer retired the first nine batters he faced and allowed the Cards (15-4) a run on three hits. He struck out 12 and walked three.

He was just as successful at the plate, going 2-for-4 and scoring a run while ripping a 3-run homer. He also knocked in another run with an infield out.

The Pioneers’ Nick Brubaker easily topped Moyer’s night as he no-hit Adamstown (22-7), striking out 12 and walking two. The only thing even close to a moment for VFW was Greg Shank’s high fly ball to center that David Nicklaus drifted over and caught in the left-centerfield gap in the third inning.

“It’s my second (no-hitter) of the year,” said Brubaker. “I just threw my fastball and made them hit it.”

Brubaker bettered Moyer at the dish too as he went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and eight RBIs. He drove in one on a fielder’s choice, and drilled a 3-run homer and a grand slam in the same inning.

Brubaker’s blasts were part of a 12-hit onslaught that shredded three Adamstown pitchers. Dallas Eberly bombed a 2-run homer in the second inning and Nicklaus (3-for-4) knocked in a pair with a double and a single.

The top of the Pioneers’ linup was very productive as Chris Sheehan (2-for-3), Jeff Bianchi (1-for-3) and Nicklaus each scored three runs. And Todd Coyle turned the lineup over from the 9-hole, going 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored.

The Pioneers scored three in the first on an error, Bianchi’s double and Brubaker’s grounder. They put up four more in the second on another error, Nicklaus’ double and Eberly’s homer, and triggered the mercy rule with a 10-run fourth highlighted by Brubaker’s homers, his 10th and 11th of the year.

“I was sitting on a fastball,” he said. “I wanted to make them throw it by me.”

Neither Ryan Purvis, who exited after the 3-run shot, nor Cody Hassler, who served the salami on his second-to-last pitch of the night, got it by Brubaker.

“It was Nick’s night,” said Pioneers’ coach Fred Maguire. “He was on, he controled the game. He pitched real well.”

In the second game, Manheim scuffed Ephrata starter Eric Andrew for five runs in the first inning, but the Cards’ lefty settled in after Craig Gatchell’s 3-run homer and retired five of the next six hitters he faced, and eight of 12.

Ryan Dennes’ innocent infield single to short opened the gates to a four-run fourth for the Lions. Before it was over D.J. Royal (2-for-4) had singled in a run and Moyer ripped a fastball well out of the yard to left field.

Moyer was totally in command over the first three innings, striking out seven of the first nine. Mark Thompson walked with one out in the third and was immediately erased trying to steal, allowing Moyer to face the minimum number of hitters.

Ephrata broke through in the fourth as Jon Kliewer led off, poking an 0-2, offspeed pitch into center field. Andrew ripped the first pitch he saw to left and Jim Hurst followed with a shot to the fence in rightfield, driving in the Cards’ lone run.

Moyer regained control with a strikeout-double play as Dennes gunned down Hurst at second and struck out four of the last five Cardinals to end the game.

“We played solid ball,” said Lions’ coach Chris Thompson, the former Manheim football and baseball star. “We hit the ball. We ran. We played defense. And Chad did a heck of a job pitching. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

On a night like Monday, you don’t need more than that.

Chad Moyer cranks up for the Manheim Lions.