Walk Off to Finals

By on May 16, 2018
Ephrata’s Nate Young (left) and teammate Ricky Bromirski celebrate after Young’s RBI hit plated the winning run Tuesday night in the L-L semifinals vs. Warwick. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Ephrata’s Nate Young (left) and teammate Ricky Bromirski celebrate after Young’s RBI hit plated the winning run Tuesday night in the L-L semifinals vs. Warwick. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Young’s bases-loaded hit gives Mounts 4-3 win over Warwick

Ephrata is headed back to the L-L League baseball finals.

Tuesday night at War Memorial, in a marathon five-hour game that featured a two-hour-plus weather delay, among other things, the Mounts knocked off Section One runner-up Warwick in dramatic fashion.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth in a 3-3 ballgame, senior Nate Young flared a 3-1 pitch from the Warriors’ Colby Martin over a drawn-in infield to plate Andrew Thomas from third base to lift the Mounts to the big 4-3 victory.

“I knew on a 3-1 count he was going to give me a strike, so I was going to sit on a fastball right down the middle. I got that and put the bat on the ball. It wasn’t the swing that I wanted but it worked,” Young said after getting mobbed by his teammates.

With the win, the Mounts (19-3) make their first trip to the finals since they won it back in 2015 with a 7-2 victory over Penn Manor. This time they’ll face Section Two runner-up Lampeter-Strasburg, a 5-0 winner over Cedar Crest, Thursday at War Memorial, beginning at 7 p.m.

“It’s great,” Young said of advancing to the finals. “This is my first experience as someone who is contributing a lot to this. Last year we had kind of a disappointing season so it’s great.”

Tuesday’s win was Ephrata’s 13th-straight since losing a 9-8 marathon in extra innings to Warwick on the same War Memorial Field turf back on April 18.

Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley said following Tuesday’s win that he saw a lot of similarities between the two games.

“That just seemed like one long extension from the April 18th game,” he said. “Obviously neither team wanted to give in. On the 18th, we ran out of innings and tonight it was their turn. You got two teams that just kept grinding it out. I just said to Nate, ‘what a strange five hours you’ve just been through.’”

It certainly was for the Mounts and Young, who got the start on the mound but struggled with his command in the early going, walking five batters and allowing two Warwick runs through 2.1 innings.

“I couldn’t find the zone and my slider wasn’t working,” he said. “They were hitting me a little bit but I just think not having my slider was killer. That’s my strikeout pitch and it sets up my fastball, so not having that pitch kind of killed me.”

Trailing 2-0, Ephrata did get one run back in the second when Thomas drew a bases-loaded walk against Warwick starter Dagen Young to force in a run.

Then with one out in the top of the third, the storm clouds rolled in, which started the delay that lasted a little more than two hours. According to Shelley, it came at a good time.

“It gave us a chance to kind of reboot and re-frame the whole game,” he said. “We said, ‘OK, it’s now condensed to five innings, we are going to play at 7 (p.m.), which is what we are accustomed to, and it’s a one-run game. We can deal with that.’ It was important for us to re-frame and put it in proper context.”

When play resumed, Zac McGillan took over on the mound and retired five in order over the next two frames.

Offensively, the Mounts did just enough to score single runs in the third and fourth to take a 3-2 lead after four.

Ricky Bromirski led off the third with a ground-rule double and came around to score two batters later when Warwick’s Young fielded Adam Schwartz’s swinging bunt and threw the ball away at first. Then in the fourth, Ryan Jantzen drew a lead-off walk, moved over to third on a pair of ground outs before scoring on a wild pitch to give the Mounts the lead.

But it didn’t last long as Warwick knotted it at 3-3 in the fifth. Bryce Zimmerman led off with a bunt base hit and took second on McGillan’s throwing error. After advancing to third on Colby Martin’s groundout, Zimmerman scored on an RBI grounder to second by Young.

Warwick’s Colin Brubaker came on in relief of Young in the fifth and worked his way out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts to strand two Ephrata runners.

McGillan then pitched out of trouble, getting a big strikeout of pinch-hitter John Seibert with two aboard in the sixth.

Then in the top of the seventh with Warwick threatening again with two runners on base and one out, Shelley summoned Schwartz to face three-hole hitter Dagen Young, a lefty. The move paid off as Young grounded out to short before Schwartz came back to strikeout clean-up hitter Justin Beiler to end the threat.

Asked why he chose to go with Schwartz, a hard-throwing right-hander, instead of left-hander Hunter Johns in that situation, Shelley said, “Hunter is more of a pitch-to-contact guy who picks at spots. I didn’t think we had as much wiggle room to allow a ball to be put in play. I felt like we needed strikeouts and Adam delivered.”

That set the stage for the Mounts’ bottom half of the eighth when they finally broke through with the winning rally.

Thomas and Dylan Embiscuso both worked one-out walks off Warwick reliever Brendan Martin, before Colby Martin came in in relief and walked Bromirski to load the bases.

Then with the count sitting at 3-1, Ephrata’s Young delivered his biggest hit of the season to send the Mounts on to the finals.

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By Kevin Frey

The Mounts relied on consistent hitting and shutout pitching to eliminate Annville-Cleona 8-0 in Saturday’s first Lancaster-Lebanon League quarterfinal at War Memorial Field.

Ephrata took the field first as the Section Two champs with an 11-game winning streak on the line. Annville (11-5, 12-8) batted first as the Section Four runner-up.

Mounts’ starting pitcher Adam Schwartz surrendered a pair of two out hits as the Dutchmen threatened early. But as would become a pattern for the game, Schwartz squashed the rally without giving up a score.

“That’s part of our pitching philosophy,” explained Ephrata head coach Adrian Shelley. “If we’re going to give up hits, it’s going to be when we’re challenging them to put the ball in play with nobody on base and two outs.”

When the Mounts came to bat in the bottom of the first they made another statement, this time with their bats. First baseman Nate Young got things started, with the first of his three hits, a pulled line drive to right field. When Schwartz earned a walk and junior Zac McGillan singled to right, Ephrata led 1-0.

Centerfielder Blake White (2 hits) stroked a hit to right, and when the ball got past Cleona right fielder Gabe Burris, he raced all the way to third base, plating both Schwartz and McGillan. Shortstop Andrew Thomas singled home White to boost the score to 4-0 after one inning.

Ephrata would tack onto that lead in three separate innings before this one was over. Second baseman Dylan Embiscuso would single (two of them bunts) in all three of the Mounts scoring innings to provide one of several sparks. Young’s single in the second, McGillan’s deep sacrifice fly in the fourth and DH Tim Beever’s RBI single in the fifth plated runs for Ephrata. Catcher Ricky Bromirski’s ground out also drove one across earlier in the fourth.

Schwartz struck out five without issuing a walk over five innings of work. He was touched for four hits, but none with less than two outs. Lefty Hunter Johns blanked Annville in the sixth and seventh, striking out two and popping up three others to complete the shutout.

“I was trying to mix my slider and curveball,” said Schwartz after the game. “Throw strikes and hopefully have them swing and get themselves out.”

When asked what it told him with all of the ground ball outs and whiffs? “My slider was working today.”

Ephrata out-hit the Dutchmen 13-6 and Beever’s double to left center and Young’s two base hit to the opposite gap were the only extra base hits for either team. White scored twice as seven different Mounts crossed the plate. McGillan drove home two as six different Mounts contributed RBI’s as everyone chipped in for the win.

“We’re trying not to look at them (the playoffs) differently,” noted Schwartz. “But there is definitely a different energy in the ballpark for the playoffs. No doubt about it.”

Coach Shelley added that the approach isn’t different, but the reality of the situation is.

“The consequences for not playing your best baseball are a lot more severe than during the regular season,” he said.

Shelley also admitted that there were several things that he liked about the Mounts effort on Saturday morning.

“I liked how we initiated the energy, how we were aggressive, how our pitchers challenged them to make contact and the way we represented being the Section Champion,” he said.

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