Post 429ers fall to Lititz
So, how did the Lititz Legion baseball squad come out on top 5-2 Sunday evening in a game played at Warwick High School?
1. Sometimes it helps to be in the right place at the right time.
In the top of the fifth, clinging to a 3-2 lead, Post 56 second baseman Garret High was running toward second base to cover a steal attempt by Ephrata’s Jake Terry, who had walked. A bullet, stroked by catcher Colin Albright, was scooped up by High right by the bag for the third out of the inning. Without the steal, it’s a base-hit for sure.
The Post 429ers from Ephrata had some of that luck as well. Lititz starting pitcher Travis Reapsome had doubled deep to left field in the second inning. Next time up in the fourth, Reapsome, who throws left-handed, but hits right, launched another ball into right-center. Ephrata right fielder Ryan Schwark made a bee-line for the fence. He reached out for the ball, but it glanced off his glove and that’s when the luck happened. Center fielder Josh Gehman, while running towards the play also, saw the ball pop into his outstretched glove. Lititz catcher Derek Acaley, running from first base, had already rounded second when the ball was caught. Gehman fired to first baseman Nate Baxter, completing the double play.
2. Sometimes, one team has its back to the wall and performs above the norm. Lititz came into the game at 5-8 and on the verge of being eliminated from playoff consideration. Ephrata, at 8-1, was looking to solidify the top seed for the upcoming District 10 playoffs. On several occasions this season, Lititz even had trouble fielding nine members to play. That problem raised its head earlier Sunday, when they had to forfeit Game One of a scheduled double-header with Ephrata. They only had 10 for the evening contest.
What did Lititz Manager Steve Chretien tell his troops before the game? “Guys, we have to play every game like it’s our last, especially the recently graduated seniors, who may be playing together for the last time.”
3. Sometimes, it comes down to performance. Lititz out hit Ephrata 10-4. They also only left three on base while the Post 429ers stranded five. The defensive gem of the game for Post 56 came in the top of the fourth. Ephrata had already closed the deficit to 3-2 when Baxter tripled to open the inning. One out later Schwark doubled in that second run. With two out, third baseman Brady Sipe lined a single down the third base line into left field. As Schwark rounded the bag and headed for home, Lititz left fielder Tyler Shirk scooped up the ball and rifled a strike to Acaley, who applied the tag for the third out. The leather didn’t look as fine to start the game as Lititz committed three errors in the first two innings. Fortunately, only one of those runners scored.
Leading the offense for Lititz was catcher Acaley, with three hits and two runs scored. Shirk, (of the great arm) had two hits and an RBI, while starting pitcher Reapsome doubled and singled, driving in a run as well. Shortstop Ben Keyser, first baseman Seth Earle and relief pitcher Cole Adams also drove in runs, as five different Lititz players made the RBI list.
On Sunday’s performance, Chretien went on, “I think we squared off well at the plate and had consistently good at-bats.”
Reapsome only pitched three innings.
“His arm tightened up a little bit, and we didn’t want to take any chances on injury,” explained Chretien after the game. Adams started the fourth, going the rest of the way for the win.
Ephrata Manager Derek Sipe had a similar pitching decision to make, when in the bottom of the fifth, Shirk lined a singled off the foot of Ephrata starter Morgan Stouffer. After several trial pitches, Stouffer was replaced by Austin Lowrey.
“He should be fine,” added Sipe. “Morgan is a gamer, and if the situation was different, we may have left him in. It’s better to be cautious at this point in the season.”
Lititz kept its playoff hopes alive thanks to the win, but is in a “must-win” situation the rest of the way. And if they do (win the final two games) they finish 8-8 and need some help to make the playoffs, which start July 10.
As for Ephrata, at 8-2, the Post 429ers have six games to play in a week and could finish anywhere from first to fifth seed. The 429ers play Marietta tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow plus Lancaster Thursday at Millersville University. The continuation of a suspended game plus a regularly scheduled game with Penn Manor take place next Monday.
A rained out contest with Strasburg-Willow Street has yet to be rescheduled.
Last Wednesday, Ephrata suffered its first league loss of the season, dropping a 10-0, five-inning game with Strasburg-Willow Street. The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was rained out. On Friday, the 429ers defeated West Lawn in a non-league game 6-3 in Reading. Jake Terry led the offense with three hits, including a two run triple, while Nate Baxter threw four innings for the win and was backed up Ethan Sipe (two innings) and Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish (one inning). They have one final non-league game on Saturday at Millersville against the same Exeter team that eliminated Ephrata from high school district play.