Chryslers’ engine stalls in finals.

By on June 29, 2016

Hopewell, NJ captures Clash

Ephrata’s Nick Lucky (7) rounds third and scores during Sunday’s Clash of the Titans Tournament final vs. Hopewell, N.J. Photo by Dick Wanner

Ephrata’s Nick Lucky (7) rounds third and scores during Sunday’s Clash of the Titans Tournament final vs. Hopewell, N.J. Photo by Dick Wanner

The Ephrata Chryslers reached Sunday’s final in the second annual “Clash of the Titans” American Legion Baseball Tournament they hosted at the War Memorial Field.

The host team fell 7-3 to Hopewell, New Jersey (Trenton Area) as both squads were 3-0 in round-robin pool play to advance to the title game.

With games beginning Friday morning, Ephrata Post 429 defeated Uniontown (Pittsburgh) 11-0, Pine Forge (Pottstown) 3-1 and 2015 State Legion Champions Downingtown 8-2 to qualify.

The Hopewell journey included wins over Shillington 7-1, Falls (Levittown) 2-1 and Penn Manor (2015 District 10 Champs) by a 6-3 score.

“I think it’s great,” said Chrysler head coach Derek Sipe, after the tournament final. “We get to face some better competition that we don’t always see in our league. We also see it in a short amount of time, which prepares us for what a playoff is like.”

Ephrata fell behind 3-0 in the first inning before even getting a chance to swing their bats as an errant throw and a fielding error added extra runs to the stat sheet for hard-luck starting pitcher Austin Lowrey. The Chryslers first three batters hit the ball hard but with none falling safely.

Hopewell’s attack in the second was again aided by loose play by the Ephrata defense, adding four runs helped by two errors and a pop fly that landed between three players. The third play, not an error in the book, but one that certainly could have been the final out.

Sipe made a pitching change in the second, bringing in right hander Gavilon Fogarty-Harnish in an attempt to put out the fire. The move worked, as the New Jersey visitors were blanked the rest of the way.

Post 429 got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when second baseman Nick Lucky singled to lead off the frame and stole second to move into scoring position. With two outs, first baseman Dillon Good drove the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a double, scoring Lucky. Lucky would score again in the fifth on a wild pitch while catcher Justin Carvell scored on an Evan Frees ground out in the sixth for Ephrata’s final tally.

“The last game didn’t go quite as we planned,” added Sipe. “We did a good job to stop the bleeding and chip away. We just weren’t able to get that big blow to turn it back in our favor.”

The Chryslers held this tournament as a fundraiser and have their collective eyes on hosting other regional or even state-wide events at the newly renovated facility.

“This is the second year doing it,” described Sipe. “Ballparking, we raised around $5,000 or about $1,500 more than last year. It’s a lot of work, but they get to play baseball during it.”

Ephrata will use that money for equipment, uniforms, umpire fees and playoff travel.

“The cool thing is that it always comes back to the players on the team,” said Sipe. “We like to carry some of it over from year to year, which helps with some of the regional and State tournament that we hope to host.”

Sipe met with Pennsylvania American Legion Activities Director John Weist on April 6 to look at lodging options plus the War Memorial Field facility. Ephrata is the leading candidate to host the State tournament in late July, 2017.

Another first time Regional event will be July 23-24 of this year at “The War.” More than 60 college coaches have been invited to the showcase, which will pit all-star teams from each of the Region IV counties in round-robin play throughout the weekend.

“I think we have three players that fit what it’s really designed for, underclassmen for the most part,” added Sipe. “As far as the underclassmen who are serious about playing at the collegiate level, it will be a great opportunity for them to go out and show what they have in front of a lot of college scouts.”

The “Titans” tournament also attracted college scouts and has teams lining up to play, both this year and in the future.

“Throughout the weekend, we probably had eight to 10 colleges here, checking out the players,” reported Sipe. “We had a lot of contacts, especially late this year. There were teams that we had to turn down because it was already full.”

Full is one way to describe the remainder of the regular season schedule for Post 429.

It begins tonight (Wednesday) with a trip to Owl Field for a non-league game at West Lawn, the host of last year’s State tournament. Follow that by hosting Penn Manor for a critical double-header Thursday, which could go a long way toward determining the District 10 number one seed.

Saturday is a first of its kind triple-header at the war. The legion team starts the action at 11 a.m., followed by Ephrata’s 16-and-under team at 2 p.m. and the U14 squad at 5 p.m. All three will face their age group equivalents from Shillington.

“That should be a good experience for the young kids who have never played here,” added Sipe.

The Chryslers close out District 10 play at Conestoga Valley at 2 p.m. Sunday, finish a suspended game with Lititz back at Ephrata Sunday evening at 6 p.m., then host CV on Tuesday.

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