Early hitting, outstanding pitching and great defense was the rule in both games of Tuesday's LNP Tournament Midget-Midget doubleheader at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
In both cases, it was the team hitting first that jumped out and never looked back.
Penn Manor scored nine times in the first two innings of the opener and went on to defeat the Warwick Phillies, 10-1, in an elimination game.
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The Ephrata Dragons jumped out on Manheim VFW in the nightcap, scoring all their runs in the first two innings of a 5-2 victory.
With both teams now having a loss, Manheim will face Penn Manor at 7 Wednesday night back at Kunkle Field in the tournament’s next elimination game.
The winner of that contest will play Ephrata in the first of two potential championship games, slated for 7 p.m. Friday, also at Kunkle.
As Ephrata scored three times on three hits in the first inning, the first two base knocks never left the infield.
Ryan Bromirski led off the game by beating a slow grounder to second, then advanced a base on a Drew Hurst bunt single. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch; Bromirski scored on an Andre Weidman's groundout, and Hurst on a double from Brady Martin.
Martin came around to score on a throwing error.
It was more of the same in the next inning, as Sawyer Jones led off with a single, was bunted to second and scored on a Hurst double. Coy Schwanger drove in Hurst with a single.
"It's a good spot to be against anybody," Dragons coach Brad Crills said of the early lead. "I am very pleased. These guys haven't disappointed me since they were 8 years old. They represent Ephrata baseball very well. They have great attitudes."
Dragons starting pitcher Jarrett Weaver was terrific through nearly five innings, keeping the ball low in the strike zone against the dangerous Manheim hitters, while relying on his defense to make the plays — which it usually did.
Weaver left with the bases loaded in the fifth as Brock Crills relieved and got a groundout to end the threat.
Manheim scored in the sixth on three hit batsmen and an error, but Bromirski came on to induce a bases-loaded popout that ended the game.
"We've been teaching it since February. Throw strikes, make the routine plays and when you have two strikes at bat, put the ball in play," Brad Crills said.
"I would like to say I envisioned Jarrett going five innings, but he was on a pitch count from the first inning. He went deep in the game. He hasn't pitched for a while. He's a gamer. He located well."
Bromirski, Hurst and Martin had two hits apiece for the winners.
Penn Manor hit the ball hard to open its game, as the first two batters reached on errors and one out later, both scored on Spencer Stuart's hard single. Stuart stole second and third and came home on an RBI groundout from Grant Fry.
One inning later, Penn Manor sent 10 batters to the plate, keyed by a one-out rally. Austin Myers was hit by a pitch, Isaac Braegelmann walked and Jamison Ford plated a run with a single.
Winning pitcher Hunter Sipel drove home two with a double, and back-to-back errors made it 7-0. Jordan Frymeyer put Penn Manor up nine with his two-run single.
"The boys were fired up for this game. They were ready to come out and hit the ball hard," Penn Manor coach Kris Beach said. "They knew they were facing a tough team tonight and they knew they only way they would get it done was to hit the ball hard. It shows the fight in this team."
Sipel tossed a complete game, allowing only four hits and a run scored by Cooper Eckert, who doubled in the fourth. Sipel also struck out eight batters in his effort.
"All year long he has been great for us," Beach said of Sipel. "His is very reliable and is a great stroke thrower. He gets it done for us. He deserved to win tonight."
Ford and Stuart had two hits each.