Despite loss Tuesday, Mounts still have a path to L-Ls

By on May 1, 2019

Must beat Solanco Wednesday, E-town Friday

Ephrata first baseman Ryan Jantzen (26) awaits the throw as Lampeter-Strasburg’s Dylan Byler slides back safely into first during Tuesday’s game at War Memorial. Photo by Travis Boyd

Ephrata first baseman Ryan Jantzen (26) awaits the throw as Lampeter-Strasburg’s Dylan Byler slides back safely into first during Tuesday’s game at War Memorial. Photo by Travis Boyd

For the first three innings Tuesday, Ephrata hung step-for-step with Lampeter-Strasburg.

However, sitting at 2-2 in the top of the fourth, the Mounts couldn’t hold the potent Pioneer attack down any longer.

L-S took the lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by lead-off Thomas Shockey, and the senior-laden Pioneers kept tacking on after that en route to an eventual 8-2 victory at War Memorial.

L-S, which has already dethroned Ephrata as the Section Two champs, scored one in the fourth and three more in the fifth before chasing Ephrata starter Owen Gockley. The Pioneers added single runs in the sixth and the seventh— one each off relievers Billy Been and Michael Storb— to salt this one away.

That was more than enough run support for L-S starter Braedon Karpathios, who improved to 4-0 on the year allowing two runs on four hits (7 Ks, 2 BBs) in five innings of work.

“They had a couple key two-strike at bats…credit their hitters,” Shelley said of the Pioneers. “They were taking the ball the other way. I liked the way Owen competed out there tonight. He probably deserved a better decision but they are a senior-laden team. They played like a veteran team. They obviously are having a good season and we are still trying to figure out some things.”

With the loss, the Mounts (8-6 section, 11-6 overall) fell into third place behind second-place Solanco (9-5, 10-5), which was idle, heading into the final two games of the regular season. Fortunately for Ephrata, the Mounts are still very much alive for the second and final L-L League playoff spot. To lock it down, the Mounts must win at Solanco Wednesday and on the road at Elizabethtown on Friday.

A win over Solanco would give Ephrata the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Mules if those two teams finish in a tie. Still, with such a young team, Shelley said there are a few things his squad still needs to figure out.

“The speech tonight was we need to hold ourselves accountable for our efforts,” he said when asked about the next two games. “There cannot be a pitch in the game in which we are not playing as hard as we possibly can be. Right now we are still in the regular season portion of our schedule and we are still trying to pout together consistent efforts for a full seven innings. They have to remind themselves, while they might be in an 0-for-8 slump, and they might be not seeing the ball the same way they were a week ago, we are in a playoff hunt, and so their problems aren’t bigger than what the team is trying to do. Sometimes with inexperienced players, this becomes part of the challenge.”

Ephrata fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first Tuesday. And all the damage came after Gockley retired the first two hitters. Dylan Byler got it started with an infield single before L-S strung together three more hits in-a-row to grab the early advantage.

The Mounts did threaten in the bottom of the inning, getting two of their first three batters on base. Unfortunately, Karpathios dug in and struck out clean-up hitter Zac McGillan and Blake White to get out of the inning.

But Ephrata did get the key two-out hit in the second when the Mounts tied the game with a pair of runs. Jackson Conover and Justin Brubaker both reached on back-to-back infield singles with one out. Then after advancing to second and third on a ground out, Jake Zimmerman knocked in both runs on an infield single as Brubaker hustled all the way from second to score behind Conover.

“At times, we did some good things and strung together some good at bats and yet there were times we strung together not so good at bats. These are things we just have to improve on, plain and simple,” Shelley said.

After McGillan robbed Aaron Snyder on a diving catch at third base in the top of the third, the Pioneers’ Joe Meck ran a ball down off the bat of Ephrata’s Ricky Bromirski and made a diving catch in front of the fence to begin the Mounts’ third. That play seemed to take some of the starch out of Ephrata, which had just one more hit the rest of the night.

After L-S took the lead on Shockey’s sac fly in the fourth, Byler singled and Hunter Cunningham walked to open the fifth. One out later, Derek Eckman knocked in Byler with an RBI single before Pat Holmes cleared the bases with a two-run double to suddenly make it 6-2 after five.

Gockley, coming off his best outing of the season in a 6-1 victory over CV last Wednesday, was finished after five. He surrendered the six runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out two in taking the loss.

L-S, which pounded out 13 hits on the night, made it 7-2 in the sixth as Karpathios singled home Shockey off reliever Been. The Pioneers scored the final run of the night in the seventh off Storb, who walked three batters before Meck delivered an RBI single.

While the L-L League playoffs are still very much up in the air, Ephrata should be in good shape as far as qualifying for Districts. the defending champs were seeded eighth in the Class 5A field heading into Tuesday’s contest. The top 14 teams qualify for the tournament, which begins Monday, May 20.

Monday night on the road at Lebanon, McGillan used his arm and his bat to lead the Mounts to a 6-1 victory over the Cedars.

On the hill, McGillan had his best outing of the season, allowing two hits over five shutout innings with four strike outs and no walks en route to claiming the win.

At the plate, McGillan was a triple away from the cycle as the senior was a perfect 3-for-3 with a home run and a double and three RBI.

Blake White added a pair of hits for the Mounts, who out-hit the Cedars, 8-3.

And last Wednesday at home vs. Conestoga Valley, Gockley dominated the Buckskins in a 4-1 Ephrata victory. Gockley allowed one run on three hits in 6.2 innings of work. He struck out eight as he earned the victory on the mound.

Offensively, Ephrata scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take control. The Mounts strung together four of their five hits in that frame as they took a lead they would never relinquish.

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