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Ephrata deals Warwick its first league loss
If double plays aren’t a pitcher s best friend, you would have had a hard time trying to convince Ephrata s hurlers of that on Monday. In three straight innings, with Warwick looking to build some momentum, the Mounts promptly shut the door by turning a twin killing. Finally, with Ephrata s defense doing its job to keep the score tied 4-4, the Mounts broke through for three runs in the top of the fifth and went on to earn an 11-4 win in a Section One-Two crossover game in Lititz, sending the Warriors to their first league loss of the season. Senior lefty Dusten Rutt settled in after yielding a four-spot in the first inning and picked up the win for Ephrata (4-1 Section Two, 5-1 overall), helping the Mounts bounce back from a tough 9-4 loss to Manheim Township last Friday. I thought the defense certainly did its part to hold the game in check and gave us enough time for the offense to come around when we needed it to, Ephrata skipper Adrian Shelley said. All I ask of all three parts of our game is to keep us in it long enough for something happen positively for us, and this is a real positive comeback from Friday s game.
While the Mounts played sure-handed defense behind Rutt and relievers David Miller and Jeremy Franck, the Warriors (5-1 Section One, 7-3 overall) had a letdown in the field, with four errors leading to seven unearned runs. Warwick starter Tyler Morris battled while throwing 124 pitches in six-plus innings, but suffered the loss. I think we gave up too much with two outs today, Warwick coach Matt Gale said. Four errors and…we’ve got to clean it up defensively. (Ephrata) took advantage of it and you ve got to tip your hat to them for that. When you give up 11 runs, you typically don’t deserve to win, so we needed to do a better job on the defensive end.
The Mounts took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning courtesy of a two-out rally. After Mark Lowrie and Brok Martin flared back-to-back base hits, Andre Hoover walked to load the bases. Two runs scored on a fielding error on Chris Fassnacht s ground ball, then Evan Weaver laced an RBI single to left and Brooks Carr followed with an run-scoring base hit to center field. Martin and Weaver finished with three hits apiece to lead the Mounts’ offense. (Brok and Evan) had good days, Shelley said. It s not always them, but you never know who it s going to be. Today, Brok and Evan had real solid days.
Warwick had a real solid inning of its own in the first off of Rutt, as leadoff batter Derrick Shields legged out an infield hit, Jordan Donmoyer (2-for-4, double) smashed a single to right-center, and Morris (2-for-4) delivered an RBI double to left-center to get them on the board. Brian Eshleman dropped in a base hit just in front of a diving attempt by Ephrata s Tim Murray to drive in Donmoyer, and then following Andy Woolley s fielder s choice bunt, Justin Nolt reached on an infield single to load the bases. From there, RBI singles by D.J. Johnson and Evan High tied it up 4-4. I was proud of the way the guys battled back and made it a new ball game with four that was impressive, Gale said. And I really thought based on that that we’d be able to keep chipping away and staying with them, but we couldn’t.
It actually remained a tie game for the next three innings, as Rutt and Morris pitched effectively for their respective teams. Morris, who K d two, walked four and gave up 11 hits, pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the third and then got an inning-ending double play of his own in the fourth. Rutt, meanwhile, allowed just three base runners over the next four frames after a tough first inning. He gave up 10 hits seven in the opening stanza but finished with an economic 68 pitches over five frames while letting the defense do their thing. Mixing his pitches and staying near the strike zone, he whiffed three and walked one. We don’t really have a one or two man, but we do have three solid starters, Shelley said. And it happened to be his day. I think you ve got to tip your hat to him for coming back out after the first inning. He had a rough start there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, but he showed a lot of character. His teammates rewarded him for it with a go-ahead rally in the fifth, scoring three runs without a ball leaving the infield. Lowrie led off with a walk, Martin followed with an infield single and courtesy runner Shane Cochran scored the tie-breaking run on a throwing error on Hoover s sacrifice bunt. Weaver added an RBI hit to deep short and Carr hit an RBI ground out to shortstop. We didn’t sting the ball, but we did do a real good job today with guys in situations where we put the ball in play and advanced runners, Shelley said. I think later in the game, we did a much better job of that.
In the sixth inning, Martin’s RBI double and Hoover s RBI single stretched the Mounts’ advantage to 9-4. Warwick answered with a two-out threat in the bottom of that frame off of Miller, when High doubled to right field and then Kris Cullen and Shields worked back-to-back free passes to load the bases. But Miller wriggled out of it by getting Donmoyer on a deep fly ball to right field. I thought we hit the ball harder than four runs today, but that s baseball sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way and you ve got to move on, Gale said. The Mounts iced it with two insurance runs in the seventh on Paul Larusso s RBI ground out and Tim Murray s sacrifice fly to center field. With that, Ephrata put its loss to Township behind them and looked ahead to an upcoming gauntlet which includes Conestoga Valley, Cedar Crest and Hempfield. The road certainly doesn’t get easier it just keeps coming at you and for our guys to respond the way they did was a good step forward, Shelley said. Gale, meanwhile, was hoping that his players would respond in similar fashion against Section rival Hempfield on Tuesday, with Solanco and Elizabethtown following them on Wednesday and Thursday. We’ve got to move on, we’ve got a tough week, Gale said. (Ephrata) s a very good baseball team too, so we need to make sure that we remember that. We can’t make excuses. We’ve just got to move on.
This past Friday, Ephrata suffered their first loss of the season in the 9-4 game at home vs. Manheim Township. With the score tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, Township sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs off three EHS pitchers in the frame to break it open. Ephrata starter Evan Young (4 Ks, 8 BBs) pitched a strong six innings but took the loss. Lowrie knocked in a pair of runs on one hit to pace the six hit Ephrata attack. Last Thursday, Ephrata scored a come-from-behind 10-4 victory at Cocalico. The Eagles led 4-2 before the Mounts scored three in the fifth, two in the sixth and three more in the seventh to earn the win. Lowrie had two hits and three RBI while Fassnacht added two RBI on a pair of hits for the winners. Taylor Gerhart went 3-for-4 while Ben Brugger, Kyle Walmer and Roman High all added two hits each for the Eagles. In addition to last Thursday s game, the Eagles also suffered crossover losses Friday and Monday afternoon. On Friday, Cocalico led visiting Cedar Crest 6-2 before the Falcons exploded for eight runs in the top of the seventh to steal a 10-6 victory. Louie Cassanova ripped a pair of home runs in the Cocalico loss. Monday afternoon, the Eagles fell to 2-5 in Section Two play (4-7 overall) as host Hempfield held them off, 4-2.