Ephrata tops Lititz in legion pitchers’ duel

By on June 13, 2018
Ephrata’s Ricky Bromirski slides safely into third base during last Thursday’s legion game at Lititz. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Ephrata’s Ricky Bromirski slides safely into third base during last Thursday’s legion game at Lititz. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

The ink was barely dry on the 2018 high school baseball postseason before last week’s opening of the summer American Legion competition. Lititz Post 56 hosted 2017 District and State Legion champion Ephrata Post 429.

A classic pitchers’ duel held both teams off the scoreboard through five complete innings. Right hander Ethan Kile struck out 11 while only surrendering one hit through five for Lititz. Lefty Hunter Johns fanned nine and gave up the same single safety on the mound for Ephrata.

The Chryslers broke through in the top of the sixth when first baseman Tim Beever delivered a two out, bases-loaded single to plate the first two runs of the game. Catcher Ricky Bromirski started the rally with a one out double to deep right-center. Beever and Bromirski had two hits each in the game, the only hits for the Ephrata offense.

Lititz shortstop Bryce Zimmerman singled to left field and promptly stole second base, putting him in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth. But Zimmerman was erased on a fielder’s choice ground out and Johns escaped with the shutout intact.

Ephrata scored two more in the top of the seventh, one on a double steal that saw Johns steal home.

“Yeah, I believe so,” admitted Johns when asked if that (stealing home) was a first. “It’s pretty cool when it works.”

The lefthander did give up a single to center by Kile, leading off the seventh. A double play and a strikeout closed out the three-hit, 4-0 shutout. Johns struck out 10 and coaxed 11 ground balls while walking none in the victory.

Kile’s stat line was equally impressive, striking out 13, six in a row at one point. He was touched for three hits, two runs and two walks, which proved to be critical in the sixth. Reed Martin relieved with two outs in the sixth, walking two and striking out one while surrendering the final two runs over an inning and a third.

“I just knew I had a good defense behind me,” added Johns. “That if I threw the ball near the plate and they made contact, we could get outs.”

Both coaches had kind words about their starting pitchers.

“Kile was throwing really well,” explained Post 56 skipper Jeff High. “He was moving the ball up and down, in and out. He was throwing with good velocity.”

“I liked the pitching,” added Ephrata’s seventh year head coach Derek Sipe. “The pitching is going to keep us in games no matter what. We just need one or two clutch at-bats and guys to get on base before them.”

While this was Ephrata’s first league game, Lititz opened the 2018 campaign last Tuesday with a 6-1 win over Marrietta, highlighted by a fourth inning grand slam by starting pitcher Justin Byler. Byler and Bryce Eberly each stroked leadoff doubles in the fifth and sixth innings which led to the final two runs scored in the opening victory.

This summer’s legion baseball scene will certainly have a different look than years past. Only four teams (Columbia, Marrietta, Lititz and Ephrata) will compete for the District 10 title. Each team will play the others four times, two at each home field. All four will also compete in the playoffs, with the format still to be determined.

Because of the limited number of teams, rosters will be composed of players from multiple high schools. The Lititz roster includes players from Warwick, Manheim Township, Manheim Central and Lampeter-Strasburg. The Ephrata roster has players from Ephrata, Cocalico and Garden Spot.

“The thing that hurt legion baseball was the midget league extending the age limit to 17,” said High. “It puts the junior players and a lot of the coaches on the spot. You could double-roster, but the midget coach has to give the player permission to play legion.”

“Even last summer, with all of our success, the first couple of weeks weren’t great,” added Sipe. “It took a lot of figuring out positions, lineups and who we can rely on. But we’ll get there.”

The following is an up-to-date schedule of the Post 429ers season through June:

 

Ephrata Post 429 Schedule

June 18 Columbia, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 Lititz, 5:45 p.m. (DH)

June 20 Hummelstown 8 p.m. *

June 22 Hopewell (NJ), 8 p.m. *

June 23 Lionville, 6 p.m. *

June 24 Championship, 2 p.m. *

June 26 Lititz, 7:30 p.m.

June 27 Southern Area, 7:30 p.m.

June 28 @ Marietta, 6 p.m.

June 30 Falls @ Hopewell NJ, 3 p.m.

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