Willow Street rallies in 9th; Mount Joy Blue rolls into semis

Keith McFalls celebrates scoring in the first inning.

By Dave Byrne
New Era Correspondent

An old Country and Western song once spoke this unquestioned truth: Some gotta win, some gotta lose.

In sports there are teams that refuse to lose and teams that refuse to win. Sometimes those teams are one in the same.

The Willow Street Twins pulled out an emotional victory in nine innings Wednesday night as Jim Lawson singled home Derek Euston to give the Twins a 9-8 win over Adamstown VFW.

With the victory comes a spot in Saturday’s Junior Midget semifinal doubleheader of the 50th New Era Tournament opposite Mount Joy Blue. Blue (26-4) rolled over its second straight opponent with a 24-2 rout of the Strasburg Twins in Wednesday’s opener.

In Saturday’s 10 a.m. opener at Kunkle Field, the Manheim Lions will play the Safe Harbor Lions.

Trailing 8-5 Wednesday night, the Willow Street Twins (13-7) had their backs to the wall… just where Twins’ coach Ron Sharpe feels most comfortable.

“I think I must have walked about four miles those last two innings,” said Sharpe, who has coached his share of nail-biting victories over the years.

Keith McFalls singled up the middle off Adamstown ace Jerry Channell with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and had taken third on a steal and passed ball before Corey Sharpe lined out on a good catch by rightfielder Eric Leininger.

McFalls held his ground, but came home on a delayed steal as winning pitcher Matt Suter walked.

A pair of steals put Suter on third as Channell worked on Phil Lutz. Down 1-2 in the count, Lutz got back to full, then singled to left bringing home Suter.

Lutz advanced to second base on a wild pitch, stole third, then scored the tying run when catcher Dustin Hoffert _ on ball four to Euston _ snap threw to third and threw the ball into left field.

Euston, who fouled off two 2-2 pitches before walking, rumbled all the way to third as the ball eluded attempts to track it down in left. Channell fell behind Lawson 2-0, but got a called strike before Lawson fouled off four straight pitches.

“They were straight-up fastballs,” Lawson said. “He was pitching me inside-outside. I was slinging, keeping my head down and following through.”

Lawson re-directed the fifth pitch to right field where it safely bounced to earth, touching off a wild celebration among the Twins and sending a staggered VFW nine to their dugout.

“All I wanted to do was hit the ball, Lawson said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything but a base hit.”

It was the second last at-bat game-winner of the year for Lawson. “I hit double that scored the run that won the division title,” he noted.

At one point, it would have been hard to believe this game would still be in dispute in the later stages.

The Twins jumped on VFW starter Jeramiah Mertz for four unearned runs in the second inning. It was 4-1 an inning later when Lutz, who couldn’t have looked worse on his first two swings, hit a high towering drive down the left field line and out of the park.

That chased Mertz in favor of Channell, who immediately restored order. The lefthander surrendered only a fifth-inning single to Euston and two walks over the next five innings while striking out 13.

Meanwhile, his mates went to work on that 5-1 deficit. For a team that one time this season came from nine runs down to win by nine, that wasn’t out of the question for VFW (16-3).

A passed ball and an RBI groundout by Leininger got the score to 5-3 in the fourth and an inning later it was tied.

Twins starter Ricky Haldeman opened the fifth walking a pair leading to his exit. Suter came on and Rory Hassler (2-for-4) chased them home with a double to left.

Over the next 3 1/2 innings, Suter and Channell traded blanks with Suter, stranding Catcher Dustin Hoffert after an eighth-inning double.

The Twins had a chance to win in the bottom of the eighth with Lawson on first after a fielder’s choice. Haldeman fouled a bunt attempt off of Hoffert’s throwing hand and Lawson stole second on the injured catcher. But he was stranded there when Haldeman struck out and Jeff Barninger popped up a bunt attempt.

Adamstown broke through for three runs in the top of the ninth. Walks to pinch-hitter Greg Bieler and Nick Cazzone and a single to center by Mertz spelled trouble, except that Bieler ran through a stop sign and was gunned down at home. When McFalls ran down Hassler’s liner to center, it looked like Suter could see his way out, but Channell doubled in Cazzone with the lead run.

After declaring Willow Street’s intention to walk Hoffert, Suter threw three pitches in the dirt near home _ obviously trying to trap the runner from third into an out at home on the wild pitch.

The third ball bounced away far enough to do the trick, but too far. The ball trickled up the third base side of foul territory and catcher John Kashuta’s throw went past Suter covering home, allowing both Mertz and Channell to score.

Adamstown went into the last of the ninth with a three-run lead, setting the stage for Willow Street’s game-winning rally.

Wednesday’s opener was a mismatch. Mount Joy Blue jumped on and chased Adam Zimmerman in a six-run bat-around in the second inning. Another bat-around in the fourth brought six more runs and nine runs over the fifth and sixth innings blew the game away.

Every Blue player that played reached base, all but two drove in a run and all but one scored at least one run.

Ryan Torborg picked up his second win of the tournament , although he started slowly. He allowed the first two batters to reach base and eventually score.

But that was all he’d allow and once again his releif, Adam Swarr, was equally as tough, giving up no runs. The two combined for a three-hitter, striking out 10 and walking three.

Ryan Torborg cranks up a victory.