In a spring of crazy weather and subsequent postponements, the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League managed to complete its regular season schedule on Tuesday.
That means it’s time for the 73rd annual LNP Tournament, which kicks off Thursday with a pair of play-in games for the Midget-Midget (12U) division.
The seedings came right down to the wire for many, with Mountville putting on a charge to garner No. 1 status entering the tourney, followed closely by the Warwick Phillies.
Defending champion Ephrata is the No. 5 seed and will take on Manheim Township.
Here is a breakdown of the action, starting with the play-in round, followed by the best-of-three qualifying tournament that starts Tuesday.
No. 10 Cocalico vs. No. 7 Conestoga Valley
How they got here: Although their league record of 4-14 might not show it, the Eagles are playing much better of late, winning three of their last six games. Conestoga Valley (7-11) also heads into the postseason on a high note, coming off Tuesday’s 18-1 victory.
Head to head: CV swept Cocalico this season with 9-8 and 5-2 victories.
Back from last year: Sam Steffy, Trent Dickson and Cody Mertz returned from last year’s Eagles’ squad.
Top hitters/pitchers: Steffy (.349), Dickson (.320) and Mertz (.306) were among Cocalico’s leading hitters. Dickson was also the starting pitcher in three of the Eagles’ four wins.
Conestoga Valley welcomes back Caleb Binkley, who was hit by a line-drive while pitching in the Mountville Tournament. Binkley (3.00 ERA), along with Jude Thompson (3 wins, 2 saves) are the team’s top hurlers, while Luke Landis (.411), Owen Fisher (.392) and Jordan Esbenshade (.300) are the hitters to watch.
No. 9 Hempfield Black vs. No. 8 Solanco Black
How they got here: Hempfield coach Eli Cox is hoping his team will show the fight it did during the entire 5-12-1 season. Solanco posted a 7-11 record, with a team that scored a lot of runs this season.
Head to head: Solanco beat Hempfield, 12-8 and 11-6, early in the season, but Hempfield managed an 11-4 win on Monday.
Back from last year: Sylas Cox, Peyton McCowan and Peyton Caswell are the returners for Hempfield. Solanco has seven players that played on its 12U Section 2 squad a year ago in Chase Groff, Austin Wenger, Sawyer Weyman, Brayden Herr, Riley Ford, Dillon Dean and Walt O’Connell.
Top hitters/pitchers: Chris Baranowski (.463) and Charlie Shearer (.408) are big hitters for Hempfield, along with Abraham Nixon (.393) and Caswell (.385). McCowan, Caswell and Shearer make up the top of the rotation.
Herr (.375), Wenger (.367), Braden Burger (.333) and Weyman (.320) lead Solanco in hitting. The foursome combined to accumulate 68 singles, eight doubles, five triples and four home runs, while driving in 45 runs. Wenger posted a 4-4 record and 4.32 ERA and Groff went 2-2 on the mound.
No. 1 Mountville vs. lowest remaining seeded team
How Mountville got here: The Indians posted the LCYBL’s top record in the regular season (15-2-1) and posted an impressive 30-7-1 overall mark, with Mountville and Manheim tournament championships.
Head to head: Mountville swept whichever team it will match up against in this round.
Back from last year: Mountville, which won back-to-back LNP titles in 2011-12, and three straight from 2002-04, returns three players from last year’s squad, in Ethan Green, Logan Harelson and Logan Weyforth.
Top hitters/pitchers: In addition to Green and Harelson, the Indians boast four others — Josh Toole, Levi Hackman, Ryan Jackson and Liam Ahern — hitting above the .350 mark.
One thing Mountville features is a full complement of pitchers, which was a good thing considering the team played 14 games in 12 days because of rainouts. Eight Indians have thrown in at least four games this season, led by Harelson, Green, Jackson and Hackman. Toole, Aidan Hodge, Ben Troyer and Ahern have also made at least four appearances.
No. 2 Warwick vs. remaining play-in winner
How Warwick got here: Finishing with a 13-3-2 LCYBL, the Phillies garnered the second seed. The team, which averages 8.9 runs scored per contest, also went 20-9-2 overall. Historically, Warwick has seen its share of LNP success, including recent titles in 2009, 2013 and 2016.
Head to head: Against its most likely series opponents, Warwick went unbeaten this season.
Back from last year: Mason Burr, Carter Horst, Cody Lutz and Ethan Zipko.
Top hitters/pitchers: Zipko led the way with a .571 clip, but Trevor Evans (.459), Burr (.452), Tyler Markey (.449), Lutz (.427) and Daniel Artale (.412), all topped the .400 mark.
On the mound, Josh Zimmerman boasts a 2-1 mark and minuscule 0.62 ERA. Artale (6-2, 2.88), Dylan Young (4-3, 2.93) and Lutz (3-2, 3.00), along with Horst and Zipko have pitched this season.
No. 3 Manheim VFW vs. No. 6 Penn Manor
How they got here: At 13-4-1 in the league, Manheim (24-7-1 overall) finished only one point out of a tie with Warwick for second place. Penn Manor, which fell to Ephrata in the championship last season, went 9-9 in league play this season.
Head to head: While Manheim won twice against Penn Manor, both were one-run games, 2-1 and 4-3.
Back from last year: Manheim has Kylen Watson, Nolan Book and Ethan Smith back from a season ago. Jordan Frymyer is the only regular back for Penn Manor, although Ethan Benne and Kyle Furnier were alternates.
Top hitters/pitchers: Book (.525) and Watson (.500) are for-real dangerous in the VFW lineup, and they aren’t alone. Amauri Ramirez (.486), Kyle Mylin (.474), Smith (.431), Tyler Groff (.416) and Ty Clugston (.403) all topped the .400 plateau. Cole Groff (7 wins) and Cael Martin (6) accumulated Manheim’s victories on the mound.
Bryce Avery hit at a .459 clip with 13 RBI’s for the Comets. Cole Miller (.346) and Furnier (.333), along with 13 RBIs from Dhamir Wesley also paced the offense. Bradyn Eckert is a close No. 1 with Frymyer the second pitcher.
No. 5 Ephrata vs. No. 4 Manheim Township
How they got here: Ephrata, the defending LNP champ, posted an 11-6-1 LCYBL record this season, 17-8-1 overall. While Township dropped its season finale, the Streaks rode an eight-game league win streak this season, finishing 12-6 in the LCYBL and 14-7 overall.
Head to head: Manheim Township, which won the LNP tourney in 2014 and 2015, took an 8-5 victory in the lone contest between the two this season.
Back from last year: Evan Boley, Jeremiah Knowles, Dillon Shortuse and Sawyer Jones returned from Ephrata’s 2017 title-winning team. Josh Boll, Ben Connors, Trey Eckman, Andrew Fury, William Kling and Tyler Mulholland all return to an experienced Streaks squad.
Top hitters/pitchers: Brendan Kapczynski led the way with a .508 batting average. Knowles (.435) and Boley (.396) also helped Ephrata hit .338 as a team. At a 3.06 ERA, Kapczynski led the pitchers. Trent Wolf posted a 3.71 ERA and seven others pitched for Ephrata.
Connors hit .481 for Township, with Boll (.424) and Flury (.415) also topping the .400 plateau. Eckman was 7-2 on the bump with a 3.32 ERA and 76 strikeouts. Kling (4-2, 4.72) and Braden Lead (2-2, 4.09) also threw quality innings.