Short-handed Ephrata drops fourth in-a-row

By on June 15, 2011

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor, Staff Writer

As a teenager, Senior Week is one of the highlights of your existence. As an American Legion baseball coach, the week after graduation is something you dread every year for it can wreak havoc with your roster and lineup.

That was the situation Ephrata and Coach Derek Sipe was facing Tuesday as the first-year manager pieced together a make-shift lineup and went toe-to-toe with Strasburg-Willow St. and ace pitcher Matt Carta.

With several starters out of the lineup, Sipe and his team hoped to avenge their 6-0 playoff loss to Carta and his L-S team during the high school league playoffs.

Unfortunately, the results were similar as SWS posted a 4-1 victory in the rematch. Ephrata did pound out eight hits on the night, but scored just the one run in falling to 1-4 in league play.

"We didn’t have many (regulars) and we had guys playing out of position but we played OK," Sipe said afterward. "We played pretty well defensively but we just couldn’t string any hits together. It was station-to-station, and we couldn’t seem to get hits with men in scoring position which has been the story of our season so far."

Carta retired the first nine batters he faced as his team jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. SWS later added one in the fourth and another in the fifth to take command.

Ephrata did make a late charge, scoring its lone run of the game in the top of the seventh and was threatening for more. Pitcher Dusten Rutt scored from third on Shane Cochran’s RBI single. Ephrata did later get the tying run to the plate as Paul Larusso came up with a pair of runners on with two outs. But his liner to short was snared and flipped to second for a force out to end the ballgame.

Rutt, who was opposite Carta in that L-L playoff game a few weeks ago, probably should have fared better than his end result. Cochran, normally a reserve infielder/outfielder, volunteered to catch Rutt with normal starting backstop Chris Fassnacht away and didn’t do a bad job, according to Sipe.

"Dusten pitched extremely well, but one of the things that made it a little difficult for him was having a new (catcher) back there," he said. "It was the first time he ever caught in his life, and he did a heck of a job considering he never did it before. But I know being a former pitcher it’s a little frustrating throwing to somebody who doesn’t really know exactly what they are doing back there. We also had a couple other people out of position, and we made one or two costly miscues where we could have had outs but didn’t get them."

Offensively, the battery mates Rutt and Cochran led Ephrata’s eight-hit attack with a pair of hits.

Up next, Ephrata hosts a doubleheader Sunday at War Memorial. They’ll face New Holland in Game One at 2 p.m., and will square off against Lancaster at 6 p.m.

Sipe is hoping a pair of wins there can help jump-start his team.

"Once we get everyone back and can get that regular lineup back out there hopefully we can string a couple (wins) together and that will go a long way in turning it around," Sipe said. "It’s still relatively early. We still have plenty of games to be played and hopefully we get these guys back and realize we have that opportunity and capitalize on it." More LEGION, page B-3

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