Miller, Griffith stifle Township, Warwick bats
By: BRUCE MORGAN Review Staff, Staff Writer
Ephrata earned its second big win over a Section One team in consecutive days Tuesday night at War Memorial as the Mounts rallied for a 4-1 victory over Manheim Township.
With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Mounts plated three runs in the fram to earn the victory.
Nate Cummings delivered a clutch RBI to single in the go-ahead run. Trevor Seibel and Andre Good also knocked in runs in the inning before starter pitcher Brandon Miller closed out his complete-game effort by setting the Streaks down in the seventh.
Miller allowed no earned runs, four hits and two walks over seven innings to help extend the Mounts’ winning streak to seven.
Matt Herbener and Seibel each collected two hits to pace the seven-hit Ephrata attack.
With the victory, Ephrata now stands alone atop the Section Two standings with a 6-2 league mark (9-1 overall).
Ephrata right-hander Seth Griffith is someone you would describe as a pitcher who throws to contact.
Facing a Warwick team on Monday that was averaging 10 runs per game during a six-game winning streak, that could have been a cause for concern.
Particularly if the Mounts’ offense didn’t put up some runs.
But Ephrata’s game plan worked to perfection. Paul Larusso, Herbener and Bobby Nye had two hits apiece to lead an attack that took an 8-0 lead and Griffith tossed a complete-game gem, as the Mounts knocked off the Warriors 8-1 in a crossover game between Section leaders in Lititz.
Although the Warriors (5-1 L-L, 7-3 overall) saw their win streak snapped, they still hold a one-game lead over Hempfield (4-2 L-L) in the Section One race.
Griffith showed up against Warwick on Monday, throwing just 78 pitches — with 56 strikes — while keeping the Warriors at bay. He struck out two while scattering seven hits, but the junior righty capitalized on his sinker ball to record 11 ground ball outs
“I knew they’re a good team,” Griffith said of Warwick, “of course, being ahead in Section One. But (my plan was) just pound the zone and let the defense make the plays.”
Junior Adam Rohrbach made his first start for Warwick and went three innings in place of Zach Hurst, who was scratched due to what Warriors’ coach Bob Locker described as a minor arm issue. He didn’t allow any hits in the first inning, but a leadoff walk to Larusso (2-for-3) ended up proving costly. He advanced on a wild pitch, moved to third on Herbener’s sac bunt, and scored on Josh Gehman’s fly out to left.
It was the first of four innings that Ephrata put its leadoff runner on base, and the Mounts scored in every one of those frames. For the game, they finished with nine hits.
“Ephrata did some things well and they made our kids play small-ball defense and we made a couple mistakes,” Locker said. “One of the things that really hurt us today was we put too many free runners on base. When you play a team like Ephrata, you’re aware of the kind of ball they’re going to play. Four times we put the leadoff batter on? You can’t do that. Take nothing away from them. They’re a very good baseball team.”
Meanwhile, Griffith retired the first seven batters he faced, and shortstop Larusso made a stellar play to end the second inning, ranging deep in the hole to rob Cody Kimmel of a hit.
“It’s great having (Larusso) back there,” Griffith remarked. “I don’t know what we’d do without him.”
It was still a one-run game going to the third, but Nye (2-for-4) led off with a double to left, was balked to third and scored on Andre Good’s sacrifice fly. Miller, the four-hole hitter, added a two-run double to left to drive in Herbener and Gehman, and then Colin Albright’s RBI double to right, just out of the diving reach of right fielder Robert Gerofsky, pushed the Mounts’ lead to 5-0.
“This group was an inexperienced group coming into the season,” Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley remarked, “and they kind of said, ‘Whatever you want to do with us, we just want to win.’ And they’ve hit. We hit the ball hard at times again today. So sometimes we don’t have to resort to it. But the offense is starting to come into its own. It has to when you’ve hit this portion of the season. You can’t afford to have too many games where the bats are dragging.”
Warwick threatened in the bottom of the fourth when Tyler Morris (2-for-3) stroked a one-out double to left-center and again in the sixth, putting two runners on base for the first time as Ian Hart legged out an infield single up the middle and Morris laced a two-out hit. But both times, Griffith pitched out of trouble.
“The kids said they had a little bit of trouble with (Griffith’s sinker), it’s not something we see all that often,” Locker said. “We’ve overcome some (deficits) and come back. We just seemed a little flat. The baseball season is a funny thing. You go through cycles where you hit, you don’t hit, you hit, you don’t hit. It’s only game 10. We’re halfway through the season. In the course of a baseball season, this stuff happens.”
The Mounts continued to hit in the top of the fourth. Larusso’s run-scoring single to left and Gehman’s RBI ground out made it 7-0 off reliever Caleb Metzler, and then Herbener’s RBI single to deep short in the sixth plated the Mountaineers’ final run.
In their final at-bats, the Warriors put their first two batters on board with singles by Grant Zimmerman and Kimmel. Both runners advanced on Alec Rhoads’ ground out, following an eight-pitch at-bat, and Zimmerman scored on a balk.
But it wasn’t enough.
“When they’re playing from behind, they really can’t generate any kind of run game and we can continue to go right at them and he kept rolling ground balls and first-pitch strikes,” Shelley said. “The easiest way at this level to get back in the game, when you’re down, is walks and hit by pitches. (Griffith) was having none of that.”
In addition to Monday’s and Tuesday’s contests, Ephrata also posted a key 13-3 victory on the road at Conestoga Valley last Wednesday afternoon.
The Buckskins came in unbeaten in section play but the Mounts got after them from start to finish to post the easy victory.
Ephrata collected 12 hits and road three pitchers in the lopsided win. Starter Brandon Miller struck out five batters and went four-plus innings to capture the victory.
Offensively, Miller was the hitting star, knocking in five runs on a 3-for-5 day. Herbener, Nye and Colin Albright added two hits apiece for the winners.
Ephrata also was in action Saturday at home in a non-league game vs. South Western. The Mounts jumped out to a 9-0 lead after just two innings and coasted home with a 12-2 victory.
Scott Liebl got the win on the mound while Albright and Miller each contributed three hits in the win.
While Ephrata was cruising this past week, Cocalico continued its struggles.
Last Wednesday at Solanco, the Eagles led 6-5 after three and a half frames before the Mules rallied for seven runs to win an eventual 12-7 decision.
The Eagles (0-6 league, 1-8 overall) also were on the losing end of a 6-2 decision Monday at Hempfield. With the score tied at 1-1, the Black Knights rallied for four runs in the bottom of the third to key the victory.
Cocalico was slated to face Cedar Crest Tuesday afternoon but the results of that game were unavailable at press time. More BASEBALL, page B-2