Monday, January 22, 2018
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Ephrata ousted from playoff field

FREDERICKSBURG — Ephrata’s baseball team ground out 18 wins this spring on effort, execution and attention to detail.

But nobody, in this sport, does that every single time out.

Which is why the end of the Mounts’ season bore little resemblance to the rest of it.

Ephrata dropped a 4-0 decision to Exeter in the District Three Class AAAA quarterfinals Thursday at Wenger Field.

The Mounts (18-6) committed four errors on the scorecard and a couple on the base paths. They weren’t at their best in any aspect.

This wasn’t the way one of the area’s more overachieving teams wanted to bow out, but, as coach Adrian Shelley put it, “It’s baseball. I don’t think it was nerves or lack of confidence. If you go game in, game out, once in a while, some games are gonna go like this.’’

Exeter reached the AAAA final a year ago, where it lost a tense 1-0 battle with Lower Dauphin. The Falcons were upset Thursday by Cedar Cliff, 4-3, in their quarterfinal, so the Eagles won’t get a shot at revenge, but will get a semifinal meeting with the Colts Tuesday.

Shelley will get to remember a club bereft of fireballers or sluggers who managed to surprise a lot of people.

“It would have been irresponsible to label this group a district quarterfinalist when the season began,’’ Shelley said. “We came a long way in a very short period of time. I’m awfully proud of them. This is one of those team we’ll refer back to, in coaching, as we go forward.’’

Exeter got all its runs in the second inning on four singles, a sac bunt, a walk and an error.

The Mounts managed three hits, all singles, off two Exeter pitchers. Still, there were chances.

In the fourth, Chase Weik singled and stole second. An out later Bobby Nye singled to left-center. Exeter left fielder Reed Huntzinger threw home strongly. The throw drew catcher Zach Arnold to the third-base side of the plate and into Weik, who avoided Arnold, went down behind the plate and wasn’t able to crawl to the plate before Arnold tagged him.

In the fifth, Josh Gehman and Charlie Warden worked walks. With one out, Shelley called for pinch-hitter Brandon Schwark and he delivered the game’s hardest-hit ball, a tracer shot to left-center that looked very much like a two-run double.

Huntzinger ran it down, and doubled the runner off second.

“I’m not inclined to look at one play,’’ Shelley said, “but if you were, I would say that ball in the gap would be the one.’

Weik had two hits. The Ephrata bullpen, Austin Lowery from the second through the sixth and Gavilan Rogarty-Harnish in the seventh, held Exeter scoreless.

“Every time we got anything going,’’ Shelley said, “they made a play to stop our momentum.’’