Ephrata legion squad putting it together early

By on June 14, 2017
Ephrata legion pitcher Adam Schwartz (left) delivers against Lititz last Thursday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Ephrata legion pitcher Adam Schwartz (left) delivers against Lititz last Thursday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Knock off PM to improve to 5-1 in league play

The Ephrata Post 429 American Legion baseball team is off and running in its quest to represent District 10 (Lancaster County) for the seventh consecutive year in this summer’s Regional Tournament.

The Chryslers sit at the top of the D-10 standings with a 5-1 league record following a 6-0 win over Penn Manor Saturday afternoon at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster.

Manor is the only other team to win the Lancaster County crown in the last six years, the entire duration of Ephrata head coach Derek Sipe.

“We hope to take the same approach no matter who we’re playing,” suggested Sipe. “It’s always going to be a good ball game when you’re playing Penn Manor. You know they are disciplined. They play the right way and they’re not going to beat themselves.”

Just two days before, the Comet high school squad was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament 3-1 by State College.

Ephrata struck early when center fielder Adam Schwartz (three hits, two runs, two RBI) bounced one over the center field fence. That blow was immediately followed by catcher Justin Carvell’s (two hits, two runs, RBI) triple to nearly the same spot. Carvell scored on an RBI ground out by starting pitcher Dillon Good.

“I think we were squaring the ball up well today,” added Sipe. “Hitting is one of those things that I think is contagious. We were able to see two guys hit the ball hard in the first inning. That made everyone’s confidence build.”

Penn Manor threatened in their half of the first by loading the bases with one out. When Good deflected Comet center fielder Brady Hinkle’s line drive toward 429ers second baseman Patrick Gallagher. His flip to shortstop Brock Kauffman was gunned to first baseman Tim Beever, completing the double play and ending the threat.

“You just have to bear down and really focus on making your pitches,” described Good, when asked about getting out of trouble. “I can’t do anything about the hit, but just focus on the next guy.”

“He has composure,” continued Sipe, when asked about his starter who was 5-1 in six starts as a freshman this past spring at Division Two Nyack College in New York. “Dillon got stronger as the game went on. Whether there are people on base or not, he’s in the same mindset. He’s just making his pitches and trusts his stuff.”

Ephrata continued to put pressure on offensively, scoring single runs in the third and fourth while creating some breathing room by plating two more runs in the top of the sixth. Left fielder Evan Frees drove home a run in the third while Good picked up his second RBI in the sixth. The Chrysler’s out-hit the Comets 12-5.

Left hander Hunter Johns relieved Good in the sixth and promptly struck out the side. Adam Maser pitched a one-two-three seventh to complete the shutout.

“They’ve (the pitchers) been doing a heck of a job this year,” assessed Sipe. “The guys that came in threw strikes. We talk a lot about minimizing. You can give teams one run, maybe two. You want to stay away from those big innings where you get yourself in trouble.”

Ephrata had scheduled additional state elite competition for this past weekend but with Yardley (Philadelphia) and Latrobe (Pittsburgh) still involved in the PIAA Tourney, those games had to be postponed.

“It’s a shame, because they are two good teams,” added Sipe. “You want to play that quality of baseball.”

Last Thursday saw the Post 429ers suffer their only league blemish, falling 1-0 to Lititz at War Mewmorial Field. Adam Schwartz struck out nine over the first six innings while Good suffered the loss as he surrendered the lone run in the seventh. Tim Griest struck out four and was the winning pitcher in the complete game effort. Both teams were limited to five hits.

“It was a quick game, a well-played game on both sides,” said Sipe. “The pitchers were dominant, the defenses were making the plays and we weren’t able to hit very well.”

The Regionals are only the middle part of the post season this year for the Chryslers, who already have a slot in the State Tournament as the host team. They are likely to make the District 10 playoffs, based on current standings. All this with a roster made up of four 2016 Ephrata graduates, current Mount players and players from Cocalico, Garden Spot and Lancaster Catholic as well.

“We’re just getting used to each other,” explained Sipe. “Getting used to what the lineup is, getting used to me, and then some of them have to settle into different positions. I think we have a chance to be a special team. We’ve got to come together as a group to get to that next level.”

Good also sounded like a coach when commenting on the team’s goals for the season.

“We have to make it about the team, rather than having a team of individuals. We are already in the state tournament, so we have that to look forward to. We still want to win the District 10 Tournament and win the regional tournament too.”

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