Stuck in neutral

By on July 19, 2017
Ephrata’s Dillon Good (right) is tagged out by Shippensburg catcher Aaron Ross during the opening round of the Region 4 American Legion Tournament Saturday in Fredericksburg. Photo by Missi Mortimer.

Ephrata’s Dillon Good (right) is tagged out by Shippensburg catcher Aaron Ross during the opening round of the Region 4 American Legion Tournament Saturday in Fredericksburg. Photo by Missi Mortimer.

Chryslers look to regroup for States after 0-2 showing at Region 4 Tourney

Perhaps it was the fact that their State ticket had already been punched. Maybe it was something else.

Whatever the reason, Ephrata seem to play with the same sense of urgency and overall sharpness at the Region Four Tournament that it had when the Post 429ers rolled to a 21-3 regular season record which culminated with a District 10 title.

This past weekend at Earl Wenger Field in Fredericksburg, Ephrata went two-and-out at regionals for the first time in seven-straight appearances.

Saturday in the opener, Ephrata dropped a 5-2 decision vs. Franklin County champion Shippensburg. And Sunday in their first loser’s bracket game, the Chryslers were ousted by host Fredericksburg, which rallied late for an 8-5 victory over Ephrata.

Ephrata certainly had a chance to win both games, but the things that the Chryslers pride themselves in — strong pitching and defense, as well as timely hitting — were uncharacteristically absent throughout the weekend.

“I don’t know what it was,” Ephrata Coach Derek Sipe said after his team was eliminated Sunday. “We just weren’t thinking. We were making mental and physical mistakes, and we were walking guys. If you do those things you’re going to give up runs. A lot of the runs we gave up the teams didn’t really earn. If we play better ball, keep guys off the basepaths and make the simple plays, we’re fine. But we weren’t very interested in doing that.”

The numbers seemed to back that up. Over the two games, Ephrata pitchers walked 16 while the defense committed five costly errors. In the end, it was the difference. Offensively, the Chryslers did collect 15 hits in the two games but lack the big one that could have gotten them over the hump in either game.

“We had some innings where we were able to string together some baserunners but we didn’t have that one guy to step up and get a big hit for us, especially with two outs,” Sipe said. “I don’t think we had more than one or two hits with two outs, and that makes it difficult to score. Those are real momentum swings in games and when you are not able to get them it really hurts.”

Fortunately, the Chryslers have a chance to make amends. As host of the upcoming State Legion Tournament set for War Memorial Field July 25-29, Ephrata received an automatic berth and will be one of eight teams vying for a Pennsylvania State title.

“We have a lot that we obviously need to clean up,” Sipe said, looking ahead to next week. “I think it’s good that we’ll be able to have a couple practices, get into some BP sessions and maybe just getting away from playing games for awhile. Second, we just need to play smarter. Guys just need to show up and they need to have the focus and intensity for nine innings, and not try to play from behind like we did the whole time here. We just got to be ready to go from the beginning because the teams will obviously be a lot better than anything we saw this weekend.”

In Saturday’s opener, Ephrata did receive a quality start from Dillon Good, who went 6.1 innings, striking out three and walking just one before handing it over to Hunter Johns in the seventh.

With the score tied at 2-2, Johns kept Shippensburg off the board through nine, but the offense struggled to get anything going off Ship starter Clayton Stine (5 Ks, 1 BB), who went nine strong innings, retiring 12 Ephrata batters in-a-row from the sixth through the ninth.

Then in the 10th, the game got away from Ephrata after Matt Fricke ripped a double to start the inning before Nate Holt drove him in with the go-ahead run one batter later. Adam Maser replaced Johns, but couldn’t find the strike zone, walking the next four batters to force in two more runs.

Ephrata was able to limit the damage there after Adam Schwartz uncorked a terrific throw to home plate after snagging Adam Maring’s liner to center to nail runner Aaron Ross for a big doubleplay.

The Chryslers did eventually get the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the 10th as Brock Kauffman delivered his third hit of the game to lead off the frame, while Justin Carvell and Evan Frees each drew walks. However, with two outs, Shipp reliever Colton Ziegler got Ricky Bromirski on a fly to center to end it.

Earlier, Shippensburg to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a throwing error which allowed Shippensburg’s Logan Martin to score from third base. Shipp then tacked on another run in the top of the fifth when Ross drew a lead-off walk, stole second before moving to third on a wild pitch. He would score one out later on Martin’s grounder to short.

Trailing 2-0, Ephrata answered in the bottom of the fifth. Patrick Gallagher led off the inning with a bloop single to center, and Kauffman followed with a double to right.

After Good walked to load the bases, Carvell ripped a double to the gap in left-center to score Gallagher and Kauffman to tie it. But Shipp was able to avoid further damage as Stine worked out of a second and third no out situation, striking out Schwartz, nailing Good at the plate on a fielder’s choice grounder, before retiring Bromirski on a ground ball to second.

For the game, Kauffman led Ephrata’s seven-hit attack with a 3-for-5 performance. Holt led the way for Shippensburg with a pair of hits in the win.

With the loss, Ephrata moved into the loser’s bracket Sunday opposite host Fredericksburg, which dropped a 3-1 decision to Pleasureville on Day One.

Chryslers’ starter Nate Young got through the first two innings but got into trouble in the third, loading the bases with one out on a walk, a hit batsman and a single. Fredericksburg starter Seth Walmer then hit a ground ball to Zac McGillan at third, who threw home for the potential force. However, the ball tipped off catcher Carvell’s glove and two runs came around to score.

Young did get out of further trouble with a pair of strike outs to end the frame.

Ephrata then tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth. McGillan drove in the first run, knocking in Good, who singled, on a hard grounder to third. Gallagher then tied it two batters later on a solid single to center to plate Bromirski, who reached earlier on a walk.

Fredericksburg reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth off reliever McGillan, scoring a single run on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Hayden Johnson. But Ephrata answered in the bottom of the inning when Kauffman led off with a single before being doubled home by Good to tie it at 3-3.

Austin Barry’s sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth helped Fredericksburg re-take the lead at 4-3, and Wilfredo Rivera’s RBI fly to center in the seventh then gave the host team a two-run advantage at 5-3.

But Ephrata responded again in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 5-5. Carvell coaxed a one-out walk before Good reached on an error. Both runners then advanced to scoring position on Frees’s grounder to second before a wild pitch brought home Carvell and moved Good to third. Bromirski then tied it with an RBI single to left to plate Good.

However, Fredericksburg kept up the pressure in the eighth off Schwartz, who was entering his third inning of work. Fredericksburg would go on to send eight men to the plate in the inning, scoring three runs to take the lead for good. A throwing error by Carvell brought home the first run before Michigan Daub and Walmer both collected RBI doubles to make it 8-5 heading to the ninth.

Carvell did lead off with a single, but was left stranded at first as Fredericksburg closer Johnson came on to retire the next three batters to secure the win.

Fredericksburg collected seven hits and 10 bases on balls, and took advantage of four Ephrata errors in the contest. Noah Gingrich, Isaac Wengert and Daub all had a pair of hits to lead the winners.

Ephrata had eight hits with Good and Gallagher leading the way with two hits each in the loss.

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2 Comments

  1. Richard Martin

    July 20, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Elta’s great grandson

    • Shirley Martin

      July 20, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      Carvell is Donna Leicy grandson

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