Penn Manor and Mountville traded large-scale momentum swings as the bugs swarmed around the lights at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy with a trip to the LNP Tournament's midget-midget final on the line. When all the swings were exhausted, Penn Manor walked off the field, Penn Manor's early lead and late charge made the difference in a 16-8 victory.
"It was a dogfight," said John Riggs, Penn Manor's coach. "(Mountville) is a well-coached team, and every time you play them, you know you're in for the fight of your life. The boys were resilient all night long. They battled back every time they were challenged."
The victory vaults Penn Manor (16-1-1) to the championship game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Kunkle Field, opposite the winner of today's elimination game between Mountville and Donegal (7 p.m., Kunkle Field).
Penn Manor's leadoff hitters reached base and scored runs in five of the six innings. Cole Miller, from the top of the order, led the charge, going 4-for-4, scoring four runs and driving in three others. His efforts helped Penn Manor build a 9-0 lead through the first three-and-a-half innings.
"He's been consistent all year long," Riggs said of Miller. He's that guy. He's battling, whether it's a clean base hit or something he's got to scrap and get down the line for. He's doing everything we need him to."
But Mountville (31-12-1) mounted a comeback.
The Indians plated eight runs in their half of the fourth inning, extending at-bats and drawing walks against Penn Manor starter Bryce Avery. The momentum swelled when Josh Toole slugged a two-out offering into center field to score two runs.
Later in the inning, Miller took to the mound in relief, extinguishing the rally by inducing a groundout to first base with the bases loaded.
Penn Manor responded with a surge of its own, plating seven runs in the top of the fifth inning, including two on a Miller single up the middle.
"It was bend but don't break," Riggs said. "We knew that they were a little depleted with their pitching, so it was just a matter of our sticks staying hot and driving the ball all around the yard."