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Chambersburg ousts Mounts from Districts
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Hindsight being what it is, Ephrata probably would like to take back a few early plays in Monday night’s District Three first round playoff game vs. Chambersburg played at Northern York High School.
Defensively, a pair of first-inning throwing errors by the usually-sound Mounts put them in an early two-run hole. Then, with a potential rally by the offense in the third, Ephrata ran itself right out of the inning by trying to score its first run of the game from first on a double to right field.
Those two frames officially set the tone, then Trojan ace Mitch Warner took it from there, withstanding a two-run home run by Ephrata catcher Chris Fassnacht in the fourth to go the distance in a 5-2 victory.
Warner (7 Ks, 1 BB) kept the Mounts off-balance, despite five of Ephrata’s seven hits going for extra bases, and helped the Trojans (16-4) advance to the next round.
"I liked the fact that we came out aggressive," Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley said of the early miscues following the loss. "But some times being aggressive can bite you. I think we were trying to assert ourselves as far as not getting put into a corner, and ironically, that’s what ended up happening to us. There were two plays we probably forced. I liked the fact that we were trying to make something happen but at the same time, the timing of both plays probably called for us to be less aggressive."
Chambersburg lead-off hitter Jason Lombardozzi led off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second on a ground out. He then stole third and came home when Fassnacht uncorked a throw from his catcher position that sailed into left field.
Garrett Sanders then added the second run of the first frame off another throwing error, this one from second baseman Brok Martin, who tried to nail Sanders as he rounded third.
"Again, in the first inning you are trying to establish tempo, you are trying to come out and go toe-to-toe with somebody, and there is a lot of adrenaline going at that point," Shelley said. "You don’t know how that is going to affect things. We know as the observers, not being in the moment, that that is going to eventually fade out and you are going to be in a game where both teams are pretty much even keeled in terms of emotion. And then you basically ride the momentum of the situation."
In Ephrata’s half of the third, Evan Weaver reached on a two-out fielder’s choice. Martin then followed with a double down the right field line that appeared to be fielded by Trojan rightfielder Kyle Patterson over the out-of-play line. However, much to Ephrata’s chagrin, the ball was ruled in play, and Patterson’s relay to the plate easily beat Weaver, who was trying to score from first, and the Mounts were kept off the board.
Chambersburg then opened up a 5-0 lead with three more runs in the bottom of the third off Mount starter Andre Hoover, who walked five and struck out two in three and a third innings pitched.
Andrew Byers had the big blow of the inning with an RBI double to right while Colten Arnold and Nick Graham also knocked in one run apiece as both players were walked with the bases loaded.
Trailing 5-0 in the fourth, Ephrata finally got on the board when senior third baseman Mark Lowrie drilled a one-out triple to right. One batter later, Fassnacht atoned for his earlier throwing error when he ripped a Warner offering over the fence in left field for a towering home run.
But that was as close as Ephrata could get as Warner blanked the Mounts the rest of the way. Ephrata senior reliever Dusten Rutt also pitched well after taking over for Hoover in the fourth. Rutt allowed just one hit in three innings, while striking out one.
Offensively, Ephrata actually out-hit Chambersburg, 7-5. Lowrie and Fassnacht each had two hits apiece to lead the Mounts, who closed out the season at 13-10.
"They are obviously a very well-coached and very fundamentally sound team," Shelley said of Chambersburg. "And when they get a lead you are going to have to do a lot to overcome a five-run deficit."
"We knew we were going to have to limit them in their scoring opportunities, and they got them quickly," he continued. "That allowed them to settle in and play the game that they are very comfortable in playing, and it forced us to play a game that eliminates some of our strengths."
With the season coming to an end for Ephrata, Shelley took one last time to recognize the accomplishments of his five key seniors (Martin, Fassnacht, Lowrie, Branden Rutt and Dusten Rutt) who all played major roles in the team’s success the last four years.
"When you look at it in terms of four-year careers at Ephrata, in terms of all athletics, they most certainly have not only earned their share of hardware, they’ve been in the District playoffs for four consecutive years and the L-L playoffs for four consecutive years," he said. "There have been four-year runs (in other sports), and these seniors have certainly earned their way into the sports annals of Ephrata and I’m certainly very proud of them for what they’ve done."
And does Shelley look at this year as a success, considering the Mounts finished second in Section Two, lost in the first round of the L-L playoffs and went out after one win in Districts?
"You always are going to look back and say, ‘had this happened, had that happened…,’" he said. "I think in the end you have to look at it not in terms of a season for these guys but in terms of their overall experience. It is my hope that they leave here recognizing it to being very positive. It certainly was for me."
The Mounts advanced to Monday’s game, thanks to an impressive 10-3 victory over visiting Penn Manor Saturday at War Memorial in a District play-in contest.
Ephrata pounded out 12 hits vs. three Comets hurlers as the Mounts rolled to the victory and avenged a 13-1 loss to Manor back on April 27.
The Mounts broke out on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first, scoring one run on a fielder’s choice and the second on an RBI ground out by Tim Murray.
Penn Manor did tie the game in the top of the second on consecutive RBI singles from Austin Richwine and Zach Burke, but Ephrata responded with a run in the bottom half of that inning when Martin scored all the way from second base on an infield hit by Lowrie.
That gave the Mounts a 3-2 advantage and the lead for good as they broke it open in the bottom of the third. Ephrata sent 11 men to the plate, scoring seven times in the frame to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Weaver and Branden Rutt each knocked in two runs each with a pair of two-run singles. Martin also added an RBI with a double to the gap in left-center.
The Comets did add a single run in the top of the fifth but could not get any closer was the Mounts advanced to Districts.
Winning pitcher Dusten Rutt (3 Ks 0 BBs) went three innings on the hill before Brandon Miller and Ryan Brubaker closed things out for Ephrata. More MOUNTS, page B-4