The arms won out
Sports Editor The District 10 Legion Baseball Tournament usually comes down to a battle of attrition.
The team that can squeeze out just enough pitching more times than not emerges as the champion. That’s just the way it is, playing five to six baseball games in a five-day period.
It was evident pitching was getting a little thin as of Sunday when Lititz squeezed out a 13-11 slugfest over CV. Monday night, SWS and New Holland, two quality teams, hit a combined three home runs as the former outlasted the latter, 8-6, in a win-or-go-home game.
And Tuesday night, it was quite apparent all Ephrata needed to do was outlast SWS in the pitching department and the title was theirs for the taking.
When SWS went to the bullpen in the bottom of the third, it was over.
Amazingly, Ephrata, with its endless supply of arms available, never had to sweat it out and won this brutal tournament with ease. I’ve never seen a team breeze through one of these like this, and I’ve been covering this stuff for 25 years.
How dominant was the Ephrata pitching staff? Well, the foursome of Dusten Rutt, Evan Young, Brandon Miller and Scott Liebl allowed a total of eight runs in five ballgames.
And they all did it differently. Rutt relies on guts and experience, keeping hitters off-balance. Young and Miller can at times be overpowering. For a good bit of Sunday/Monday’s 7-0 shutout win over SWS in the winner’s bracket final, Miller was consistently hitting 86-87 on the radar gun. And Liebl, who was told a half hour before gametime Monday that he would be making his first start of the year, got through it by making a pitch here and a pitch there while relying on his defense to get him through.
As scary good as those four were, Ephrata didn’t even need to use lefty Andre Hoover, who was arguably the ace of the high school team, at least in the beginning of the season. Ryan Brubaker and Seth Griffith, both of whom are nursing minor injuries, also got the weekend off.
Which leads us to this next round, the Regional Tournament, where pitching depth becomes even more paramount to your team’s success, going from seven to nine-inning games.
I’d be willing to bet there are few teams left who have more arms than Ephrata. Pitching is a luxury few teams have, and Ephrata has enough in the stable to go a long, long way.
While its pitching has been stellar, the offense and defense has done its share of contributing as well. I don’t want to sell those players short, afterall the offense did produce 32 runs in five tournament games.
And defensively, there were several web gems made throughout the weekend. In fact, an outstanding over-the-shoulder catch by centerfielder Evan Weaver in the first inning Tuesday night thwarted an early SWS rally and held Rutt settle in.
Bottom line, this team is clicking on all cylinders right now, is having a lot of fun doing it, and will be a really tough out through the remainder of the post season.
And other than the two-hour drive to Fayetteville, I’m really looking forward to the next round.
Good luck, guys. More RUTH, page B-2