Lightbulb Moment: ‘Smallball’ keys Mounts’ rally & win over Solanco

By on April 6, 2016

Ephrata’s offensive identity throughout the highly-successful Adrian Shelley era has been that of an aggressive, opportunistic approach.

Through two games which they split by identical 3-2 scores, that part of the game was missing. Fortunately, the pitching held up enough that they were able to salvage one win, but Shelley and Co. needed to get back to their brand of baseball if they want to have any shot at successfully defending their league championship.

Tuesday afternoon in the Section Two opener at Solanco, with the Mounts clinging to yet another 3-2 lead, the lightbulb finally went off in the top half of the fifth inning.

The end result was one of those crazy innings Ephrata almost always seems to put together when it needs it most. The Mounts scored eight runs in the top of the fifth, with three bunts that went for hits, a fake-bunt, swing-away double, a seeing-eye single and a bases-clearing triple.

It broke open what was another tight game and carried the Mounts to an 11-2 victory.

“It took us quite a good bit of negotiating to get them going, but we were eventually able to get things heated up when we needed to,” Shelley said by phone Tuesday night. “We just had to change our approach (at the plate). We were certainly capable, we just had to embrace who we really are instead of trying to be something that at this particular point in the season we’re not.”

Not that driving the ball all over the yard isn’t a good thing, but mixing in a few drives with the small-ball approach is what Shelley has been looking for.

“One of the things we needed to do was cut our strikeouts down and we needed to try to put as many balls in play as possible,” Shelley said. “We needed to get back to doing the things that we know we are good at. Yes we want to hit gaps and yes we want to drive the ball over outfielder’s heads, but at the same time we don’t want to get away from playing the bunt game, making the corners worry we are going to drop something down…that’s what we’re good at.

“We need to work on blending the two approaches,” he continued. “We can be both, and that’s what you do in the course of a game…you adapt to the situation. In the fifth inning today, they did that. They blended them all together in the course of an inning. We needed to get back to who we are, and fortunately for us we strung together a lot of really good at bats. This was certainly a confidence booster for us.”

Justin Carvell, Adam Schwartz and Nate Fassnacht all had two hits each to lead the 11-hit Ephrata attack. Both of Schwartz’s hits were triples as both he and Chase Weik drove in three runs each.

On the mound, Ephrata got another strong outing, this time by starter Dillon Good, who scatted four hits while striking out seven in five innings of work. Fassnacht and Weik also each pitched a scoreless inning in the win.

In addition to Tuesday, Ephrata also was in action Saturday at Cumberland Valley where the Mounts suffered their first loss of the season in a 3-2 extra-inning defeat.

Trailing 2-0 for most of the way, Ephrata forced extra innings with a two-run sixth. However, the Eagles won in walk-off style by plating a run in the bottom of the eighth.

Ephrata was out-hit 9-4 in the game. Weik had two of the four Mountaineer hits to lead the way.

Ephrata used three pitchers on the day with Schwartz taking the loss in relief. He did strike out four and allow just two hits over three relief frames.

The Mounts hit the road Wednesday for a tough assignment at Lampeter-Strasburg before hosting Garden Spot Friday night (7 p.m.) in the home opener.

As for Cocalico, the Eagles won their second-straight game Tuesday afternoon in the Section Three opener with a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over Donegal.

Cocalico trailed 6-2 before tying the game with a four spot in the fifth and scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth.

Offensively, Austin Harven had a double and knocked in four runs on the day to lead the Eagles. Nick Lucky added a triple for the winners, who improved to 2-1 on the year (1-0 Section Three).

In addition to Tuesday, Cocalico also was in action last Wednesday at home where the Eagles earned their first win of the season in a wild 13-11 decision over visiting Conestoga Valley.

Cocalico twice rallied back from deficits before taking command with two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth.

Brett Geib had two hits and knocked in three RBI for the winners. Brock Showalter added three RBI for Cocalico. Trent Walters earned the win on the mound while Harven picked up the save.

CV was led by Luke Trainer, who had a pair of hits including a grand slam in the loss.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *