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Slow start leads to elimination for Pride
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
After winning the New Era Tournament championship three seasons ago, the Ephrata Pride has now gone one and done the last two seasons.
Friday night in the opening round, the second-seeded Pride were sent home after one game for the second-straight year as seventh-seed Lititz Oddfellows pulled out a 9-7 upset victory.
Travis Reapsome’s bases-loaded single in the top of the fifth broke a 7-7 tie and gave the Oddfellows (8-6-2) the lead for good. Alec Rhoads added an insurance run with an RBI fielder’s choice.
Brady Weiler, who was the second reliever of the night for Lititz, hurled the final 3 2/3 innings to hold off Ephrata (12-4) and earn the win on the mound.
Lititz, which pounded out 10 hits in the game, did most of its damage in the early innings. The Oddfellows pounded out six hits and took advantage of four defensive miscues by Ephrata to jump out to a 7-0 lead after 1 1/2 frames.
"I don’t know where that came from," Ephrata Coach Phil Leid said of the costly Pride errors. "It might have been (a case of the nerves)."
The Oddfellows scored four runs in the top of the first, getting a two-run single by Chris Wentzel, while Weiler and Cody Kimmel also delivered RBI hits.
They then tacked on two more runs in the second when starting pitcher Robert Gerofsky reached on a one-out error. Wentzel followed with a walk before Weiler and catcher Ian Hart both came through with RBI singles and just like that Lititz had a commanding 7-0 lead.
But Ephrata did not go down without a fight. The Pride got two runs back in the bottom of the second as Colin Albright, Bobby Nye and Morgan Stauffer strung together successive hits before a bases-loaded walk and a throwing error plated the two runs.
Zach Hurst relieved Gerofsky to start the third, and retired Ephrata in order. However, the Pride then sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs to tie the game at 7-7 while chasing Hurst.
Trevor Seibel, Tim Murray, and Ryan Schwark all drew bases-loaded walks for the Pride while another run was forced in on a hit batsman. The final run of the inning came off Weiler as Brandon Miller lofted a one-out RBI fly out to right to tie the game.
"We kind of got our composure back and rallied to tie it up so I was very proud of that," Leid said of his squad. "It was disappointing (to lose) but I try to take the positive out of things and the way we fought back made me really happy. I mean we just didn’t roll over, and we easily could have done that the way we played the first two innings."
Unfortunately for Ephrata, Lititz then struck for the winning runs in the top of the fifth. Weiler led off the inning with a walk before a hit by Hart chased Ephrata starting pitcher Seth Griffith. With Miller in from the bullpen, Reapsome then Rhoads delivered the key RBI’s to put the Oddfellows ahead to stay.
Offensively, Hurst, Weiler and Hart each had two hits to pace Lititz. Albright led Ephrata’s six-hit attack, going 2-for-4 on the evening.
While losing in the first round wasn’t exactly what Leid and his troops had in their minds, a 12-4 record this season was something they could hang their hat on in the end.
"Obviously the year has been a positive," Leid reflected. "We went 12-4, and any time you can do that it’s a pretty good season. If everything goes right, we should have eight guys back for next year’s team so hopefully this will have them wanting a little more and they come back a little hungry."
"The guys did great," he continued. "We all played as a team. It really was a collective effort." More PRIDE, page B-3