Hempfield Black used nearly every out of the 21 allotted them before bringing home a 3-2, walk-off victory over Manheim VFW on Tuesday in the opening game of the 72nd LNP Tournament's Midget division at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
They will face the Lititz Oddfellows in the first game of Thursday's semifinal twinbill, back at Clipper. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
The Oddfellows romped over Solanco Gray, 9-2, in the second game of Tuesday's quarterfinals.
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Cole Houser's one-out double over the head of left fielder Cole Lastinger drove Jayden Ruby home from second base in the bottom of the seventh inning, moving Hempfield Black (15-0) to the semifinals and completing their comeback after trailing the first five-and-two-third innings.
It's a tough one to lose," Manheim assistant coach Dave Bruckhart said. "We had the lead, and held it, held it, held it. We just failed to make a couple key plays and it hurt us.
"Give them credit. They're not undefeated for no reason."
VFW's Drew Mummau retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before hitting Houser with a pitch, leading off the fourth. Houser stole second and scampered home on Alec Santiago's RBI single through the hole at shortstop.
That halved a Manheim (8-7) advantage built on RBI hits from Nolan Weaver and Garrett Bruckhart.
Still, Mummau was dealing and his fielders were strong behind him.
Until they weren't.
“Drew deserved to win,” Hempfield coach Jeremy Morrison observed. “At this level there's going to be a few errors and some hiccups. He did a great job, that's for sure."
Hempfield starter Ty Vaughn reached on a one-out bloop infield single leading off in the sixth. Winning pitcher Justin Lichtenwalner walked, but Santiago forced Vaughn at third. Mummau could see his way out as Nick Fiore grounded to first baseman Nolan Weaver.
Weaver's underhand toss sailed high, pulling Mummau off the bag as Lichtenwalner raced home with the tying run.
Lichtenwalner came on in relief for the seventh inning, stranding a pair of baserunners, and Black moved to their half of seventh.
Seth Constein reached on an error leading off, but was forced at second on Ruby's sacrifice try. Matt Weiderrecht came on in relief of Mummau, striking out CJ Saylor.
Houser, who has had more than a few big hits in LNP Tournaments past, took a ball, then fouled off a pitch.
He lifted the next pitch he saw high into left, the second stage kicking in and carrying it over the head of Lastings.
"This was the best (hit), by far," he said. "I just took a deep breath and allowed it to happen."
"Cole had some good at-bats," Morrison said. "He's done a good job all season."
In Tuesday’s nightcap, a four-run first inning and five-run fifth powered Lititz into the semifinals.
The Oddfellows (12-3) got RBI hits from winning pitcher Dagen Young and John Seibert, plus Adam Ricketts' sacrifice fly. They scored a fourth run when Colby Martin stole home, scoring on the back end of courtesy runner Colin Brubaker's steal of second.
Their five-spot began when Max Bright reached on an error leading off the fifth. Brandon Martin beat out a bunt hit and Josh Farina doubled them home, opening a 6-1 lead.
Pinch hitting, Brubaker blooped an RBI hit into left, followed by Colin Beech's double deep into left-center. After an out, Ricketts singled in Beech to cap the rally.
Young and reliever Adam Kurtz paired to carry a no-hitter through six innings. Beech came on in the seventh, surrendering back-to-back hits to Tim Fetterman and Mike May. Fetterman, who scored the first run for Gray (11-4) on John Murray's squeeze bunt, came home on Dawson Kreider's groundout.