The Norlanco Redbirds flirted with perfection while Mount Joy Blue flirted with disaster. Norlanco and Mount Joy broke the ice in the 60th LNP Midget Baseball Tournament of Champions, picking up victories on the opening night of the Midget-Midget division quarterfinals.
Madison Zimmerman and Andre Hoover teammed to throw a combined no-hitter while the Norlanco Redbirds ten-runned Marietta/Maytown Blue, 11-0, in the nightcap at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field. Earlier, Kevin Newcomer’s bases-loaded, fourth-inning triple delivered Mount Joy Blue’s come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals.
Norlanco and Mount Joy return to Kunkle Monday night at 6 p.m., facing each other in the first game of a midget-midget semifinal. Tonight’s quarterfinal winners face off Monday at 8.
As he stepped in for his third time at bat, Newcomer had not been having the greatest evening.
He started on the mound for Blue (27-9) and was touched for four runs _ two earned _ on five hits in three innings’ work, and left trailing 4-2.
Moreso, he had struck out looking and walked in two plate appearences.
Taking advantage of Cardinal starter Andrew Jordan’s wildness, Blue had loaded the bases on an infield single and two walks.
Michael Robinson singled a run home, then Trent Albert walked to reload the bases, bringing Newcomer to the plate.
“I was kind of scared,” he admitted. “I was looking for a hit, any kind of hit, just to score a run.”
He did even better, directing Jordan’s 1-1 pitch into the right field corner for an opposite-field triple. “It felt kind of good to hit it,” he agreed.
The hit made a winner of Jason Sauder, who allowed a run on four hits in three innings of relief.
It was, according to Newcomer, one of the few times Mount Joy had had to come from behind to win this year. “We pretty much just flat-out won most of our games,” he said.
The Cardinals (19-12) struck for a pair of unearned runs in the top of the second inning. Then, after John Heisey tied the game for Blue with a two-run double in the bottom of the inning, SWS went back in front on Jordan’s RBI triple and Chris Mathiot’s single to center in the third. Matt Carta increased the advantage with an RBI double in the fourth.
While the outcome hung in the balance in the first game, there was little doubt how game two would finish.
The Redbirds (30-6) batted around in the first inning, scoring three runs and leaving the bases loaded.
Shaking off that rough start, Marietta/Maytown starter Austin Musser settled in after Norlanco nicked him for an unearned run in the second.
But Cameron Gallagher’s high fly ball was dropped in left, allowing a run to score in the fourth, and Jake Rutt followed, crushing a two-run homer over the fence in left.
In all, M/M Blue (10-18) would committ seven errors behind Musser. The last two opened the gate for the mercy rule in the fifth as Brock Martin doubled home two runs and Gallagher lined a two-run shot down the left field line.
While all this was going on, Zimmerman was improving on his 1.38 ERA retiring all nine batters he faced, five on strikes.
Zimmerman (9-0) had just two moments: Musser’s line out to left in the first and Zach Bauer’s decent try for a bunt hit in the third, handled nicely by Zimmerman.
Hoover continued the mound mastery, striking out three of the first five hitters he faced. He grazed Colby Rodenhauser with a 3-1 pitch in the fifth, ending the perfecto, then struck out Bauer for what proved to be the visitor’s final out.
“They both threw strikes and the defense was there behind them,” offered Redbirds’ coach Mike Lowrie. “And, we got some quality ‘Jacks’ from Jake Rutt and Cameron Gallagher.
“The kids were patient at the plate, hit the ball and played good defense, and that’s what usually wins ballgames.”