Monday, January 22, 2018
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Mounts stop Comets

Behind a strong performance from starting pitcher Austin Lowrey and a pair of timely hits from shortstop Nate Fassnacht, host Ephrata (9-2 L-L, 10-2 overall) earned a 3-1 win over Penn Manor (8-4 L-L, 10-5 overall) in a Section One-Two crossover baseball game Wednesday night.

“I told the team before the game that something was going to have budge tonight,” Ephrata head coach Adrian Shelley said. “This was a battle between two very good pitching and defensive teams.”

The Mountaineers opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning, following a leadoff single by Charlie Warden and walk to Justin Martin. With one out, Fassnacht drove a 2-2 pitch from the Comets’ Hunter McVey (6 IP, 7 K, 3 BB) to right center, scoring Warden.

“I was looking for the outside fastball and the wind was blowing to right field, (I) just tried to let the wind take it,” Fassnacht said.

Fassnacht would do the same thing in the fifth inning, this time lifting the 1-0 offering from McVey to the same part of the park, scoring pinch runner Brian Wertz all the way from first base.

“We said at the beginning of the game we wanted to stay inside the baseball and (Fassnacht) did a real nice job on both of those swings to do that,” Shelley said.

Meanwhile, Lowrey was keeping the Comets off balance, scattering three hits over six innings.

“The outside fastball, it just worked the whole game,” Lowrey said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots early but then towards the end, I came back, started to hit them and it started to work out.”

The Mounts added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Chase Weik hit a leadoff single and stole second with two outs. The throw to second by Comets catcher Anthony Knight wasn’t fielded and went into centerfield, allowing Weik the chance to scamper home for the 3-0 lead.

The Comets had a chance in the top of the seventh, as Ephrata committed three errors, helping shortstop Cody Simet score following a one-out single.

“They gave us the opportunity,” Penn Manor head coach Jim Zander said. “We didn’t do much to create that opportunity. Give (Austin) credit, he threw strikes. We’ve certainly seen harder throwers but we just didn’t make the adjustment. We had been swinging the bat pretty good all year and to his credit, we just did not adjust to him and never figured him out.”

Lowrey eventually finished off the complete-game four-hitter, getting Knight to pop to shortstop with the bases loaded to end a 10-pitch at-bat.

“We gave them a couple extra outs in the seventh, but Austin gritted his teeth and made some key pitches when he had to,” Shelley said.

“It was outside fastball every pitch,” Lowrey said. “He kept fouling them off, kept battling. I kept battling, kept putting it in the same spot.”