Ephrata 14Us drops two in LNP Tourney

By on July 24, 2019
Ephrata pitcher Tanner McCracken delivers against Manheim in the LNP Tournament held at Kunkle Field in Mt. Joy. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer 

Ephrata pitcher Tanner McCracken delivers against Manheim in the LNP Tournament held at Kunkle Field in Mt. Joy. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

The Ephrata 14U baseball team earned one of four spots in the 74th LNP (formerly New Era) Tournament last week at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy. Ephrata joined the Manheim Lions, Mountville Angels and Lititz VFW, with Ephrata coming in as the three seed after sweeping Penn Manor in the qualifying series.

The double elimination format looked to be wide open, as each of the four squads had at least two wins against the other three during the regular season. With Kunkle being used for both the 12U and 14U Tourneys, the older boys competed with wooden bats.

The bat change did not lead to success for Ephrata, as they only had three hits in a 6-1 opening loss to number two seed Mountville last Wednesday. They managed four hits in a 6-3 elimination game loss to number one seed Manheim on Thursday.

“It’s a tough transition to make,” admitted Ephrata head coach Ric Bromirski, who is not a fan of the wooden bat format. “We did have to spend the last two practices, taking cuts with the wooden bats. For us, this is a 12U (short) field. Obviously, wooden bats are required here.”

Ephrata had early success in the opener, leading 1-0 after three innings. Lefty Tanner McCracken faced the minimum number of Angels, picking off the two runners who has reached first base.

“It was just a 45 degree angle with a high leg kick,” explained McCracken, when asked about the pickoffs. “I tried to catch them off guard.”

McCracken struck out six and walked none in five and one-third innings. Having no free passes was a big part of his plan. “Just throw strikes,” added McCracken. “Communicate (with the catcher), and make the right pitches.”

Catcher Coy Schwanger had two of the team’s three hits against the Angels. The third was a single by second baseman Evan Boley, which pushed McCracken to third base after he drew a walk. McCracken scored Ephrata’s only run one pitch later on a wild pitch.

The turning point in the game may well have been the top of the sixth, after Mountville had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Ephrata worked two walks from Angel starter Hunter Williams (seven k’s, four walks). They also got a break when McCracken’s bunt was mishandled by Mountville first baseman Logan Harelson.

The first walk turned into a caught stealing when Angel catcher Peter Fiore quickly located a ball in the dirt to throw out the Ephrata runner. Ephrata also tried to take advantage of Harelson’s miscue, only to have a runner thrown out at third to end the inning.

“It’s one of those things where I think we got a little too aggressive,” said Bromirski. “You don’t want to run into outs like that. It would have been ideal to have runners in scoring position for the next batter there.”

In the bottom of the same inning (the sixth), Mountville plated four runs and hit two home runs, putting the game out of reach.

A four run inning was the downfall of Ephrata the next night as well. Trailing Manheim 1-0 after three innings, the Lions broke out for four runs in the fourth to make it 5-0. Ephrata answered with three of their own in the fifth, while Nolan Book’s solo home run in the bottom of the sixth stamped the final margin for the Lions.

Ephrata had singles from Ryan Bromirski, Boley and Trent Wolf, plus a double by Detric Updike off Manheim pitching. They finish the 2019 season with an overall record of 20-11.

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