Hall of Famer Walter Alston managed the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for 23 years, famously on a series of one-year contracts.

Lancaster baseball has its own Walter Alston in Bob Sauders, who has coached the Mountville Indian Midget-Midgets for 25 years.

With no contract other than a nod of appreciation.

"It's only possible because of the Mountville Youth Athletic Association," Sauders shared in a recent e-mail. "They're unlike any organization anywhere."

And Sauders' record is unlike any coach anywhere.

The dean of local youth baseball coaches, Sauders coached his 1,000th game on June 3rd, a 5-4 victory in the semifinals of the Mountville Tournament.

Fittingly, it was a victory achieved in the Indians' last at bat.

Over the course of 681 Indians' victories, many have come in the last at bat.

Many by way of the steal of home. Or the suicide squeeze bunt.

That's baseball, the Mountville way.

It's a way that has led to 21 winning seasons, 10 appearances in the Midget-Midget finals of the New Era Tournament and seven of Mountville's eight NET titles.

And one glorious summer in 2003, when the Indians capped a 51-0 season by winning the Cooperstown Field of Dreams championship, held at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. New York.

Including this season, competing in the LCYBL U-12 and its predecessor, the Penn Manor League, Sauders' teams have a league record of 274 wins and 118 losses; 407-201-5 in tournaments, including Cooperstown and other select competitions.

Sauders has not done this alone, ably assisted by Jerry Bradley - who coached two years in 1988-89, then returned in 2001 - and a group of father/coaches including Ron Brubaker, 2001-02 and '12; Dale Wile, 1994-95, '97-98; Ken Dowell, '97-98; and Jeff Ream, Kyle Ream and Tom Beck, who rode the magic carpet of 2003.

The Indians (13-3 LCYBL, 27-9 overall) are the defending NET M-M (Under-12) champions and enter the tournament as the No.2 seed.

The best-of-three quarterfinals begin Friday night and will follow a home-away-home format with the higher seeds earning the home-field edge.

Following the completion of this round, the tournament will be re-seeded - much like the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs - before the finals get underway at Kunkle Field.

The current edition of the Indians is paced by returnees Jeremy Brubaker - the fourth of Ron Brubaker's sons to play for Sauders - who pitches, catches and plays the infield, Nick Buchwalder (P, OF-Inf) and pitcher-first baseman Logan Givler.

Brubaker is 8-2 on the mound while Givler is 4-1. First-year man Ryan Moffatt is 8-3.

Mountville plays Conestoga Valley, which advanced with an 8-5 play-in victory over the Ephrata Dragons.

Last year's runner-up squad, Donegal, pulled the No. 1 seed, a position the favorites plan to hold at the close of the tournament.

Donegal (14-2, 29-7) returns Kyle Hess, Dale Houser, Chris Nash, Connor Updegraff, Brady Steinmann, Kobe Bistline, Dawson Magar and Seiler Edwards from last year's silver medalists.

Donegal opens the best-of-three quarterfinals against the Penn Manor Comets, who topped the Hempfield Black 6-1 in the tournament's other play-in qualifier.

Third-seeded SALSA (12-4 league and overall), hopes to be at the top when the chips are down.

Paced by Chris Rosario (.455, 22 RBIs), Jo Jo Metzler (.326), Kevin Arroyo and Cee Torres, both with 11 RBIs, and a six-man pitching staff of Metzler, Arroyo, Rosario, Torres, Elijah Washington and Dario Santacruz, SALSA will face the Warwick Phillies (8-8, 14-14) in the opening series.

Warwick came out on the short end of a 22-18 exchange with Donegal in the '11 semis and returns pitcher Gabe Cicala (4-4, 2 saves) from that donnybrook.

Moving up and setting the pace with Cicala are Nate Hess, Justin Byler, Carter Forney and Reed Martin.

Fourth seed Manheim VFW (11-4, 18-8-1) returns eight players, including B.J. Fisher (4-2 pitching, 50 Ks in 41 innings; .304, 3 HR, 3 3b & 25 RBI).

But, almost as importantly, Manheim returns coach Jeff Mummau who led VFW and the J-M Lions to four straight NET titles from 1993-96.

First-year players Drew Mummau (8-1 pitching, .385, 18 RBI) and Garrett Bruckhart (4-2, 16 RBI) bring a youthful spark.

Stepping in against VFW is the fifth-seeded Manheim Township Streaks. The Streaks (9-7, 11-9) return pitcher/outfielder Joel Provost from last year's M-M semifinalists.

Moving up from Section Two and leading the team in average is Jake Cummings (.421). Moving over from Little League and batting .412 is Juan Rosario. Both, along with, Zach Diamond, pace the Streaks' power output.

Cummings, Provost, Rosario, Diamond and Cameron Barto carry the load for a group that pitches by committee.

dbyrne@lnpnews.com

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