Spring Grove denies Ephrata on final day Post 429’ers fall 10-0 in semis
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Ephrata’s bid for a second Region Four American legion baseball title was denied last Wednesday in the semifinal of the tournament played at Hanover.
Spring Grove, which was ousted by Ephrata during last year’s tourney, returned the favor as pitcher Dalton Hoiles allowed just three hits in an eventual 10-0, seven-inning victory. Spring Grove (20-8) went on to defeat Hampden Twp. later in the day, 10-9, in 10 innings to capture the Region 4 title.
"I think that may have been our worst game in three years," Ephrata Coach Derek Sipe said of his team’s final performance of the season. "Everything went wrong. Every ball they hit seemed to find a hole and it was kind of the opposite for us. Every ball that we hit was right at someone. It was just one of those days, but that happens sometimes."
Ephrata (22-7) was traveling along a similar path to which it won the 2012 crown. A year ago, after dropping their first game in the double-elimination tourney, the Post 429’ers put together a string of five-straight wins through the loser’s bracket to win its second-ever Region Four championship.
It appeared as though they would do it again this time after winning three in-a-row after dropping Game One. However, one game away from the finals, Spring Grove and Hoiles stopped them in their tracks.
Hoiles, the son of former Baltimore Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, blanked Ephrata with a three strikeout, two walk performance in his three-hit, complete-game gem.
"His stuff wasn’t electric but what he did was threw strikes," Sipe said of Hoiles. "And he was able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes, and that kept us enough off-balance…He basically let us hit the ball, and they made the plays. You got to give the pitcher credit because he gave his team an opportunity to make plays, and they did."
The lone inning when Hoiles got into trouble was the fourth, when Brandon Miller (single) and Colin Albright (walk) both reached base to start the frame. However, Hoiles got a ground out, a strike out and a flyout to end Ephrata’s threat.
Then in the bottom of the fourth, Spring Grove broke the scoreless tie when Trevor Troxel led off the inning with a home run off Ephrata starter Scott Liebl. Spring Grove added another run later in the inning when Colby Murphy scored on Nick Spangler’s RBI ground out.
Leading 2-0, Spring Grove then put it away in the fifth, sending 14 men to the plate while scoring eight runs in the inning off four hits, five walks and three Ephrata errors.
Murphy had a key RBI double in the frame while Austin Hunt and Spangler also knocked in runs with hits.
Spring Grove finished the day with 10 hits off four Ephrata pitchers. Liebl struck out two and walked one in absorbing the loss.
Following the loss, Sipe was asked about his team almost duplicating its comeback feat of a year ago.
"We knew it was possible that we could drop the first one and still come back," he said. "We proved that last year, and having the pitching depth that we have, we didn’t feel that we were out of the tournament after dropping the first one. I don’t know if the team as a whole believed that but I know the guys who were part of it last year believed it was possible. We beat Campbelltown and then won the next day, I think everyone was on board. We came into the last day considering ourselves the favorites to win the tournament. Unfortunately it didn’t happen but after the Campbelltown win, we came back the next two days and played two phenomenal games of baseball. They just played great fundamental baseball, attacked the ball at the plate and it was fun to watch them."
This was Ephrata’s third-straight appearance at regionals, after winning its third District 10 League title in as many years. And despite the disappointment of coming up short in the end at regionals, Sipe still considered it another very successful campaign.
"It was a great year," he said. "Obviously we had to re-tool with a lot of different players. We had some core players back but a lot of these guys had their first chance at it. I think that’s what made the year more exciting. Obviously, we played more games and did some more traveling this year, but it was the first time we had this solid of a record in the regular season, and then to win the District 10 Tournament again…People talk about three-peats a lot but really there was a lot of people winning for their first time.
"It was exciting to see that group of guys make their first run, and to see us have another phenomenal year and get back to regionals and put ourselves in position to win it on the last day there, that’s really what it’s all about. On top of that, a lot of guys had a lot of fun. And when that’s all happening, success kind of follows along."
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