Merlins fall to Township in LCYB 10U playoffs

By on June 22, 2016

 

Ephrata drops into loser’s bracket

Ephrata Merlins’ starting pitcher Trent Wolf prepares to fire a pitch to Manheim Township in the first inning of Monday night’s playoff game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata Merlins’ starting pitcher Trent Wolf prepares to fire a pitch to Manheim Township in the first inning of Monday night’s playoff game. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

The Ephrata Merlins dropped out of the winner’s bracket Monday night in the Lancaster County Youth Baseball’s 10U Section One double-elimination playoffs at Froelich Park in Mountville. The third-seeded Merlins (14-4 League) fell 16-1 to second-seed Manheim Township (16-2), as the Blue Streaks invoked the mercy rule with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Despite the lopsided final, it was Ephrata which took the lead in the top of the first inning when catcher Evan Boley singled to left field, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Jarrett Weaver.

Trent Wolf took the mound for the Merlins and had misfortune from the start as Township’s leadoff hitter Nick Palumbo lined a pitch off his left knee for a single. Timeout was quickly called as Wolf crumbled. As this was his landing knee, he was given a few tosses to test the injury, and the game right-hander continued.

The bad luck continued as an attempt at a force was judged to be a whisker late, three hits on late swings came within inches of the first and second basemen’s gloves and the strike zone was questioned by Ephrata head coach Tony Andrews.

“It was a different strike zone,” Andrews said. “That’s why you heard me ask my catcher where he had it (the glove).”

Andrews was forced to replace Wolf with lefty Dillon Shortuse, who got out of the inning, but not before the Streaks had an insurmountable 10-1 lead. Manheim Township’s Trey Eckman and Connor Spencer shut out the Merlins for the rest of the game, striking out seven along the way.

Meanwhile, the Streaks’ offense tacked on four in the second and two in the fourth to round out the scoring. As it turned out, Boley’s leadoff safety was Ephrata’s only hit of the game.

The Merlins continue playoff action tonight (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. at Manetas (old Zinn’s) Park in Denver in the loser’s bracket quarterfinals. Andrews expressed an optimistic view on the team’s chances going forward.

“We have 11 out of 13 kids that pitch,” he said. “They all do well. The team all-around is actually really good. You just didn’t see it tonight.”

Ephrata and Manheim Twp. faced each other twice in the regular season with each winning once.

The Merlins started the tournament Friday night at Snyder Park in Clay Township by edging six-seed Manheim VFW 5-4 on a walk-off home run by Wolf in the bottom of the sixth. The game was tied four times and saw three lead changes before the dramatic finish.

“There were a lot of good defensive plays and good hitting on both sides,” Andrews said. “He hit that ball 40 or 50 feet over the fence. That was fun.”

Despite being out-hit 9-5, Ephrata had clutch hits in the victory. Weaver’s double and triple led the way, while Brenden Kapczynski struck out four in two innings of work on the mound.

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