Ephrata Legion improves to 7-0

By on June 25, 2014
Ephrata pitcher Austin Lowery focuses on throwing a strike as he goes into his windup during recent District 10 American Legion action.

Ephrata pitcher Austin Lowery focuses on throwing a strike as he goes into his windup during recent District 10 American Legion action.

The Ephrata Post 429ers battled through a rough patch in Tuesday night’s game in Columbia, but came away with a 7-4 victory to improve their District 10 American Legion record to 7-0. The win puts Ephrata two games up in the loss column over both Penn Manor and Marietta.

Ephrata served as the home team and broke through for a 1-0 lead after one.

Then came the bump in the road.

Ephrata skipper Derek Sipe talked about the night’s challenge. “We were short-handed because of injury, vacation and others who were missing in action,” he said. “Some players were out of position, and some who typically only pitch were pressed into service on the diamond.”

Columbia took advantage in the second, scoring four unearned runs while Ephrata committed three errors. But Ephrata bounced right back, plating five runs in their half of the second. With two out and two on, Columbia walked red hot catcher Colin Albright intentionally, bringing first baseman Nate Baxter to the plate. All Baxter did was hit a bases-clearing double, giving the 429ers a 6-4 lead. Ephrata scored once more in the sixth inning to account for the final score.

Morgan Stauffer went the distance for the Post 429ers, only giving up the four unearned runs for the hard-fought victory.

In other action last Sunday, Ephrata rode pitcher Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish to a 9-1 win over Lancaster. There is no more important tandem in sports than the combination of a pitcher and a catcher in baseball, and that assumption was in total evidence as Fogarty-Harnish and catcher Colin Albright led the Ephrata Legion nine to the victory.

Catcher Albright gets the first word.

“Gavilan and I are friends both on and off the field and that contributes to our success,” he said. “I’ll go out for a visit if it appears that he is getting down.”

The first inning wasn’t his best, giving up a run, a single and two walks before getting the final out on a bases-loaded blast to deep center field.

“He left some fastballs up in that first inning,” Albright said, “but after that he was at the knees, which is the hardest pitch to hit.”

Starting with the final out of the first, the two were locked in, sitting down 16 Lancaster hitters in a row, five of the last six by strikeout.

Fogarty-Harnish wasn’t aware of the streak.

“Really, I didn’t know,” he said. “Usually I get stronger and often throw harder as the game goes on.”

He certainly did that, only giving up singles in the first and seventh, striking out eight, and walking three while going the distance for the victory.

Albright was also at the top of a long list of hitting heroes on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with two RBI’s. Also contributing RBI’s were Ethan and Brady Sipe, Nate Baxter, Brandon Schwark and Michael Caraballo

“Colin, like a lot of successful high school players, feel they have to pull everything to the left side,” coach Sipe said.

Albright agreed.

“We have been working on hitting the ball up the middle and driving it to right-center,” he said.

This coaching brought dividends Sunday, as two of his three hits went to the right side.

The challenge for the next two weeks is to play nine league games plus a non-league tilt with West Lawn while having enough pitching to get it done. Coach Sipe likes their chances.

“We are blessed with a lot of pitching depth, some of which we haven’t had to use except in relief,” he said. “We’ve been able to give everyone normal rest. This is a tournament type of schedule, which should help us when the playoffs begin. We have confidence in every one of our pitchers.”

Starting tonight (Wednesday), Ephrata travels to Strasburg-Willow Street for a double-header starting at 5:30 p.m. The West Lawn contest is Friday followed by another double-dip on Sunday at Lititz and a single game Tuesday at Marietta. Remember, if you want to see the 429ers, you will have to travel because of the resurfacing of the War Memorial Field this summer.

Last Thursday, Ephrata raised its record to 5-0, having to go eight innings to outlast Bainbridge (Elizabethtown) 7-4. The Post 429ers built a 4-0 lead after four and a half innings only to see the Bears come all the way back and make it 4-4 going into extra innings.

“We were satisfied with the lead and missed several opportunities to increase it,” coach Sipe said. “When you leave a team stay close, they gain confidence and think they can win.”

Ephrata dominated the extra frame, following up a lead-off walk with four consecutive hits, getting RBI’s from Brady Sipe, Anthony Embiscuso and Nate Baxter. Austin Lowrey picked up the win in relief.

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