Monday, January 22, 2018
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Mounts move onto Semifinals

Ephrata rallied late Monday afternoon, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning capped by Brian Wentz's slide home, to secure a startling 6-5 comeback win over defending L-L baseball champion Lancaster Catholic in the resumption of Saturday’s suspended quarterfinal game at War Memorial Field.

Weather permitting, the Section Two champion Mountaineers (17-3) and Section One runner-up Black Knights (12-9) meet tonight at 7 in Ephrata to determine a spot on Thursday’s title game. Tonight’s other semifinal matches Section Four champ Annville-Cleona (14-6) and Section Three runner-up Northern Lebanon (16-6) at Wenger Field at 7.

Both semis represent rematches of regular-season games. Ephrata edged Hempfield 2-1 on April 17, and four days later Northern Lebanon beat A-C 3-2.

Monday, it appeared as if the Crusaders (11-10), league finalists the last two years, would return to the L-L semis. Right-handed power pitcher Willie Burger, who fanned seven in three innings Saturday and led 3-0 before heavy rain suspended the game, struck out the side in the fourth and was staked to another run when Jordan Scott scored Bailey Jamanis with a single. The Mounts rallied for two runs in the sixth on RBIs by Charlie Warden and Jarred Martin, cutting the Crusaders lead in half at 4-2.

Burger, who finished with 11 strikeouts, worked free of any more damage and helped his cause with a solo home run to left field in the top of the seventh, putting the Crusader's up 5-2.

“I thought that might have been the knockout blow,” Ephrata skipper Adrian Shelley said. “(Burger) is a unique commodity. The first three innings (on Saturday) we didn’t have a clue. He was shoving (mid-90s fastballs) past us pretty good. We couldn’t even put the ball in play.

“Willie wore down a little bit (on Monday). His velocity was down a little.”

Nate Fassnacht worked a leadoff walk in the seventh and stole second and then third before scoring on Brady Sipe’s double. Colin Albright walked and Bobby Nye followed with a two-run single that tied the score at 5-5. Wentz, running for Nye, motored to third on Warden’s single and a Crusader error, then headed home on Catholic’s second throwing error on the play.

“I was going on contact,” Wentz said. “I took off and kept running, slid into third and there was a high throw... Amazing. I saw the catcher jump and I knew I was safe.”

“Ephrata baseball,” Shelley said. “That’s how we do it.”

Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish, who pitched the seventh inning for Ephrata, got the win in relief.