Post 429 falls to Hopewell in finals of ‘Clash’ Tourney

By on June 28, 2017
Photo by Missi Mortimer Ephrata’s Adam Schwartz (right) tries to avoid the tag from the Hopewell catcher at home plate in the championship game of the “Clash of the Titans” Tournament Sunday at War Memorial. Schwartz was ruled out on the play as Hopewell captured the title with a 2-0 victory over the Chryslers.

Ephrata’s Adam Schwartz (right) tries to avoid the tag from the Hopewell catcher at home plate in the championship game of the “Clash of the Titans” Tournament Sunday at War Memorial. Schwartz was ruled out on the play as Hopewell captured the title with a 2-0 victory over the Chryslers. Photo by Missi Mortimer

When a baseball championship is on the line, the difference between winning and losing can often come down to mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities. That was the case Sunday evening when the host Ephrata American Legion team took on Hopewell, NJ in the title game of the third annual “Clash of the Titans” Tournament at War Memorial Field.

The two clubs were locked in a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the top of the sixth inning, when Hopewell loaded the bases with no one out. Two of the runners reached base due to a throwing error and a walk, part one of the critical differences.

Chryslers’ pitcher Dillon Good coaxed a double play from the bat of Hopewell cleanup hitter Josh DeDufour but the lead run crossed the plate. Another run in the seventh inning also started with a base on balls and the Jersey club grabbed a 2-0 lead going into the final half inning.

Ephrata had chances in both the sixth and seventh innings, starting with two men on in the sixth with only one out. Two fly-outs later, the threat was over and opportunity number one was lost.

Post 429 came even closer in their last chance, loading the bases with only one out in the seventh. Hopewell pitcher Andy Blake fanned right fielder Adam Schwartz to bring up Chrysler catcher Justin Carvell, who had lined a single to left just one inning earlier.

Carvell’s drive brought the home team to its feet, but Hopewell left fielder Tom Pecora hardly had to move, sending the Jersey squad home with the title for the second-straight year. The missed opportunities were difference number two.

“In the last inning, we put some pressure on them,” explained Ephrata Coach Derek Sipe. “Justin hit the ball about as hard as you can hit it. It just happened to go right to the guy.”

This was certainly a game for the pitchers, as both Good and Blake only surrendered five hits each. Good struck out five, while Blake fanned two.

“What Dillon (Good) was able to do in limiting them was tremendous,” added Sipe. “Their pitcher had us fooled a lot. That goes back to him being able to throw all of his pitches for strikes.”

Sunday’s game was the finale of the three-day, eight-team tournament that began on Friday morning.

Ephrata (two wins, one loss), Conestoga (2-1), Carlisle (1-2) and Southwest York (1-2) made up the first of two pools. Ephrata advanced to the championship game by besting Conestoga by a 9-6 score.

The second pool was Hopewell (near Trenton NJ, 3-0), Pine Forge (Boyertown, 2-1), Shillington (1-2) and Penn Manor (0-3). The field contained arguably some of the best American Legion programs in Eastern PA plus their Jersey neighbor, just across the Delaware River.

“It’s great for us as a team,” summed up Sipe. “One, it’s a fundraiser, so we’re able to make some money. We get to bring in some great competition from outside the area. The guys get the opportunity to play on our field against quality opponents.”

It’s also a chance for those teams to play on one of the best fields in the region, also the site of this summer’s State American Legion Tournament. Each of the six teams not in the final game had one additional Sunday game at “The War” as their reward for participating.

Shillington defeated Southwest York 7-2, Conestoga downed Penn Manor 5-2 and Pine Forge ripped Carlisle 13-2 to complete the lineup.

As far as District 10 League play is concerned, Ephrata has already wrapped up a playoff spot last Thursday with an 11-1 victory over Columbia.

The Chryslers currently sit atop the standings with an 11-1 league record.

The District 10 playoffs will be held July 6-11.

Up next, Ephrata travels to Penn Manor Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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