Carvell’s RBI single caps rally, sends Mounts to L-Ls

By on May 6, 2015

 

Ephrata players mob catcher Justin Carvell (2) after his game-winning single defeated CV, 6-5 and put the Mounts in the L-L League playoffs. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata players mob catcher Justin Carvell (2) after his game-winning single defeated CV, 6-5 and put the Mounts in the L-L League playoffs. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Things didn’t look good late for Ephrata Monday night at War Memorial.

Needing a win over Conestoga Valley to punch their eighth-straight L-L playoff appearance and 12th in the last 13 years, the Mounts were running out of innings and time, trailing 5-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth.

They definitely needed to respond, and quickly, and that’s exactly what they did.

After plating a run in the sixth, shortstop Nate Fassnacht jump started the seventh with a lead-off home run to cut the deficit to one. Then after catcher Justin Carvell tied it later in the inning, scoring from third on a wild pitch, the Ephrata backstop finished it off in the bottom of the eighth with a clutch bases-loaded single to bring home senior second baseman Michael Caraballo with the winning run in a wild 6-5 Ephrata victory.

“I was just thinking, put the ball in play, make it in the outfield,” Carvell said of the winning hit.

While L-S (11-5) broke the Mounts’ string of three-straight Section Two titles as the Pioneers clinched the crown this past Friday, Ephrata and Garden Spot remained tied for the final playoff spot allotted to Section Two heading into Monday. Earlier in the day, Garden Spot kept its hopes alive with an 18-6 win over Solanco. But with Ephrata’s come-from-behind victory, the Mounts won the tiebreaker.

So, Ephrata (10-6, 13-6) will play the winner of Thursday’s Section Three playoff between Donegal and Manheim Central in Saturday’s first round at War Memorial. Game times for all four games Saturday is 10 a.m., 1, 4 and 7 p.m.

War Memorial will host the entire tournament this year with semifinal action set for Tuesday at 4 and 7 p.m., and the finals on tap for Thursday at 7 p.m.

“We are pleased,” Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley said of qualifying for the playoffs. “We certainly wanted to get ourselves back in this position. I think we were able to quickly get beyond the fact that we weren’t going to repeat as section champs. We are not section champs, now I think the kids did a pretty good job of putting it behind them and saying, ‘if we can’t do that, what can we do?’ Obviously tonight we had to get past this hurdle and CV did everything they could to make us climb over it.”

“It’s great that these players now have an opportunity,” he continued. “One of the seniors walking out tonight said ‘that was way too close.’ I said to him on your way home think about what if it wasn’t enough? And then appreciate the opportunity the team now has heading into the playoffs.”

Monday night, Conestoga Valley (2-14, 3-17), the last place team in Section Two, certainly didn’t play like it.

Luke Trainer and Jared Duffy roped back-to-back RBI doubles to the gap in right center in the top of the second to erase an early 1-0 Ephrata lead. Then, after the Mounts tied it at 2-2 on a home run to left field off the bat of freshman Adam Schwartz, CV rallied to plate three runs in the fourth to grab the 5-2 lead and the momentum off Ephrata starter Austin Lowrey.

“I give them a lot of credit,” Shelley said of the Buckskins. “I saw it in their approach pre-game, and then obviously when they came out and put together some nice swings on Austin. When he made a mistake they made him pay for it. They were very efficient with their baserunners. When we made an error, they made it hurt. When we gave up a hit, they bunted him over and drove them in. With the playoff berth on the line, we had a narrow margin for error, but they made it very small.”

But Lowrey kept his team in the game, which was key. He allowed just two more hits after the fourth inning and seemingly got stronger as the game went on. He ended up going the distance, striking out eight and earning the win.

“We just stayed positive and fought to the end,” Carvell said. “Austin Lowrey did a great job throwing strikes. Our coach told him that we can’t give up any more runs when it was at five, and he didn’t do that. And we came back and won. It was a great win for him.”

Fassnacht, who leads Ephrata in almost every hitting category, drilled the first offering from CV reliever Mark Groff deep into the bleachers in left field to open the fateful seventh.

“I was just thinking, ‘just get a hit,’” Fassnacht said. “It was a fast ball, middle in…it was the pitch I was looking for.”

Shelley added, “That was a big swing. Ironically we were telling everybody to go up there and work counts. We were trying to create an inning but he didn’t wait around. We always say ‘if you swing and get aggressive like that, you better square it up.’ He squared it up all right. I haven’t seen anybody in our school colors hit one that well in a long time.”

The Mounts still trailed by one after Fassnacht’s shot, but quickly loaded the bases with nobody out and looked to not only tie it but end it there. However, after Carvell scampered home with the tying run, a pair of nice defensive plays at home helped Groff get out of the inning and force extras.

But Ephrata seized control from that point. Lowrey set down the Buckskins one-two-three in the top of the eight, and then Caraballo, a speedster, was hit by a pitch by new reliever Eric Graff to lead off the bottom of the frame.

Caraballo then stole second and wound up on third when Trainer’s throw sailed into centerfield. CV had no choice but to walk Fassnacht and Weik intentionally to load the bases and hope for the best.

However, Carvell’s bloop single to center dropped in front of CV’s Kyle Lapp to bring home Caraballo with the game-winning run from third.

“To finally get our team working together, being able to scratch a few runs together at the end of the game was good to see,” Fassnacht said.

Shelley said Caraballo reaching base to lead off the eighth was the biggest play of the inning.

“There is no room for error once he leads off with a hit by pitch, swipes second and gets to third,” Shelley said. “He creates pressure, takes third and now it’s in our hands. It was in our hands, though, several times tonight and normally that bites you in the rear in the end. It’s a credit to the players. They didn’t stop fighting.”

Brandon Schwark and Fassnacht both had two hits apiece to pace the Mounts’ seven-hit attack.

The Mounts will close out the regular season Wednesday night (7 p.m.) at home with a non-league contest vs. Cumberland Valley.

As the ninth-rated team in AAAA going into Wednesday’s regular season finale, Ephrata has all but assured itself a spot in Districts, which get underway Monday, May 18.

In addition to Monday’s win, the Mounts notched key wins over E-town Friday and Garden Spot last Wednesday.

In the 8-1 win over the Bears Friday, Schwartz went five strong frames to earn an 8-1 victory on the mound. The freshman struck out four and walked two while Ephrata pounded out 12 hits offensively.

Caraballo, Fassnacht, Andre Good and Dillon Good all had two hits each for the winners.

Ephrata certainly had the offensive clicking in its 16-6 win over Garden Spot last Wednesday. The Mounts pounded out 17 hits as Brian Wentz, Dillon Good and Caraballo all had three hits each to lead the way. Fassnacht knocked in four runs with a pair of hits while Carvell and Chase Weik added two hits apiece.

While Cocalico won’t advance to the post-season, the Eagles did close out the season in fine fashion Tuesday night at home vs. Conrad Weiser in a non-league contest.

Eagle senior pitcher Nate Baxter tossed a gem in his final high school game, limiting Weiser to just three hits while striking out 10 to lead Cocalico to a 3-1 victory.

Cocalico got all the runs it would need in the bottom of the first, plating two to overcome an early 1-0 hole. The Eagles added one more run in the second and rode Baxter’s left arm to the win.

Offensively, five of Cocalico’s 10 hits were doubles off the bats of Nick Lucky, Jeremy Marshall, Tyler Keppley, Brady Sawyer and Baxter.

Marshall, Keppley and Brandon Eberly drove in the Cocalico runs.

With the win, Cocalico closes out the season at 7-9 in Section Three play and 9-11 overall.

Monday night at Manheim Central, Cocalico closed out section play with a 5-2 loss at Manheim Central.

The host Barons pulled away late, breaking a 2-2 tie with one run in the fifth and two in the sixth to key the win.

Offensively, Baxter and Justin Burd both doubled for the Eagles while Brady Sawyer drove in a run with one hit on the night.

Last Thursday at Elco, Cocalico did earn a 6-1 victory over the Raiders as Baxter and Dakota Moyer combined to allow just the one Elco run.

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