Mounts score early, hold on vs. Daniel Boone
After replacing several key cogs in the lineup and most of its pitching staff, there was a bit of an unknown about Ephrata heading into the 2014 high school baseball season.
With so many new faces, there were as many questions. But, at least for one day, the Mounts seemed to have answered most of those questions.
Saturday in the season opener at Daniel Boone, the two-time Section Two champs seemed to pick up right where they left off.
Ephrata jumped out to a big 7-0 lead after two innings, and held on the rest of the way for an 8-5 victory over the Blazers. Seniors Colin Albright and Jarred Martin both knocked in three runs each while sophomore shortstop Nate Fassnacht contributed two hits, including a triple and scored three runs to pace the offense.
Pitching-wise, Ephrata used four hurlers on the day as sophomore Matt McGillan went three strong innings in relief to earn the victory while Morgan Stauffer came on in the seventh to record the save.
All in all, it was a successful first game for the Purple and Gold.
“Well, first of all, despite the lousy weather we’ve had leading up to Saturday, it was a great day for a season opener,” Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley said Tuesday. “The first time we were outside on a diamond was the previous day when we scrimmaged Garden Spot, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Our hope was that we could execute a simple game plan based on a few fundamental strategies; put the ball in play, throw strikes, and make routine plays. The line-up did a great job setting the tone in the first two innings and the combination of pitching and defense did enough for us the remainder of the game to secure the victory. I would’ve preferred to see our offense maintain that intensity across seven innings, but you have to give Daniel Boone’s starter credit for making an adjustment and settling in after a rocky start.”
Ephrata staked starter Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish to a 7-0 cushion after plating three runs in the top of the first and four more in the second. Fogarty-Harnish (1 K, 1 BB) ran into trouble in the bottom of the third, allowing four runs before giving way to McGillan (1 K, 0 BB).
With the score now 7-4, the Mounts added another run in the top of the fourth to make it 8-4, but DB, which out-hit Ephrata, 14-6, struck for a single run in the bottom of the inning to make it 8-5.
But Ephrata would settle in and hold on for the win. Austin Lowery (1 K, 0 BB) pitched a scoreless six before handing it over to Stauffer, who struck out two and allowed just one hit before closing out the win.
“The pitchers did exactly what they were asked to do; pound the strike zone, pitch to contact, and allow the defense to make plays,” Shelley said of the staff. “The early 7-0 lead was the perfect prescription for our young pitching staff. Any time you’re pitching with a lead, you want to challenge the hitters and make them earn every base. And, that’s exactly what each of them did. We ended up getting out-hit in the game, by a significant margin, but many of those hits that we allowed came in non-threatening situations. Once they carved into our lead, the staff stepped up and made some big pitches. So, I was very pleased with their collective effort.”
With a win under their belts, the Mounts are now idle until Friday when they travel to Mid-Penn country to take on CumberlandValley.
“We still need to work on a lot of different situations that you can’t possibly simulate indoors,” Shelley said. “To date, we’ve had three days on a field; Friday’s scrimmage, Saturday’s game, and a practice in 35-degree weather on Monday. Unfortunately, that amount of time doesn’t allow you to cover everything that needs covered. And, the rest of the week doesn’t look favorable. So, we’ll prepare like we’ve been doing and hope we have technical skill and mental toughness to give CumberlandValley a competitive game.”
Ephrata opens Section Two play next Monday on the road at Solanco.