Manheim pitcher Cayde Connelly could feel the heat, and the pressure, as Ephrata threatened his Lions' 5-3 lead with runners on second and third Thursday in their LNP Tournament Junior-Midget elimination game at Kunkle Field.
Connelly breathed in the humidity and the situation, wound up and delivered a third strike on the inside corner for the third out, ending the threat. He and Brady Harbach pitched scoreless innings in relief, Manheim's Nolan Book led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run, and the Lions remained alive in the LNP Tournament with a 6-3 decision.
Manheim advanced to Friday's game, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Kunkle Field, opposite Lititz VFW for the right to advance to the Junior-Midget championship round against the Mountville Angels.
"I think we had a little bit of nerves yesterday," said Eric McGallicher, Manheim's coach, of its loss to Lititz VFW in Wednesday's opener. "They're gone now. We're ready to play baseball."
With two out and runners on second and third, Manheim's Cayde Connelly strikes out Ephrata's Ryan Bromirski to end the threat in the top of the 6th and keep the 5-3 @LNPTournament Junior Midget lead intact. pic.twitter.com/jsDnU3eExA— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) July 18, 2019
The Lions manufactured a run in the second inning to take the lead, scoring Colin Neiles on a Cole Groff sacrifice fly.
"The boys were patient," Eric McGallicher said, "They waited on good pitches, and they ran the bases well."
The patience paid off in the fourth inning when the Lions broke the game open with four runs against Ephrata starter Dillon Shortuse, a surge highlighted by Connelly's two-run, two-out single that stretched the lead to 5-0.
"It helped me pitch better," said Landon McGallicher, who started and earned the win for Manheim, "knowing that we had runs on the board. I also knew we had a great defense behind us."
Manheim extends its lead over Ephrata to 5-0 with four runs in the fourth. Cayde Connelly had this 2 RBI single with 2 out. pic.twitter.com/hsnt8Z1Iri— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) July 18, 2019
Ephrata tagged McGallicher and the Lions for three runs in the fifth.
"It was a little tough to get used to," said Rick Bromirski, Ephrata's coach, "but as the game went on, we got more comfortable."
The comfort manifested in an RBI double from Detric Updike, which scored Coy Schwanger and cut the deficit to 5-3.
"It was a hot night," Eric McGallicher said, "so fatigue set in there a little bit."
Connelly and Harbach blanked Ephrata over the final two innings, keeping title hopes alive for the top-seeded Lions.
"Being the No. 1 seed," Harbach said, "was a lot of pressure, but after the loss yesterday, we just wanted to just come out and play our game, have fun and do what we do."