Monday, January 22, 2018
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Mounts handle Hempfield

Having grown up with many of them, Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish knows Hempfield’s hitters.

“They’re pretty good,” he said.

Ephrata’s senior right-hander knows something else.

“If you make pitches,” he said, “you can get anyone out.”

Fogarty-Harnish made his pitches Tuesday, going the full six innings in a 14-2 win over the Section One champions and defending league champs in an L-L semifinal at sunny but windy War Memorial Field in Ephrata.

The Section Two runner-up Mountaineers (15-7) invoked the 10-run rule with a four-run sixth inning highlighted by Nate Fassnacht’s three-run home run pulled to left field.

It was the third homer this spring for Fassnacht, who began the game with a team-high .450 batting average.

“Inside fastball, exactly what I was looking for,” said Fassnacht, who reached base in all five of his trips to the plate, scored three runs and drove in five runs.

Working deep counts, Ephrata rapped 10 hits and churned through four Hempfield hurlers in advancing to the league title game opposite Penn Manor Thursday night at 7 at War Memorial. The Comets defeated Manheim Central 14-0 in Tuesday's nightcap.

“We had some good at-bats early, allowing us to see that their pitching was going to be a little erratic,” Mounts skipper Adrian Shelley said. “What that does is it allows us to quickly make an adjustment and say ‘Okay, we’re not going to be aggressive. We’re going to work counts...

“Why not try to drive deep at-bats?”

Fassnacht got the Mounts going with a two-run single off starter Alec Miller (5-1) in the top of the second. Hempfield (19-3), which hadn’t lost in a streak of 13 games dating back to April 9, tied it in the bottom of the inning on RBIs from Dustin Walter and Grant Oberholtzer.

Ephrata reclaimed the lead in a fourth inning that proved pivotal. Patrick Gallagher was hit by a pitch – he was one of five hit batsmen in the game – and he and Fassnacht scored on Justin Carvell’s single.

“Getting those runs brought back the momentum to our team,” said Fogarty-Harnish. “Having those runs helps you settle down, focus on your pitches and not worry.”

The Mounts cracked the game open in the fifth, batting around and scoring six runs. Gallagher plated two runs with a single, Chase Weik doubled in two more, Brandon Schwark brought in another run with a groundout and Brian Wentz scored on a wild pitch.

Wentz added an RBI in the sixth and Fassnacht followed with his long blast to left. Fogarty-Harnish finished off his five-hitter to improve to 4-1 this season. It was his first action since throwing two innings of relief May 6 and his first start since April 24.

He started at Hempfield on April 17 and Ephrata lost 9-4. Focusing on first-pitch strikes, it was a different story the second time around.

“He started a little shaky but by the end he had everything working,” Fassnacht said.

It’s a statement that sums up the Mounts’ season so far.

“This team, from the beginning of the year up until the end of the regular season, hadn’t shown lots of signs of significant growth,” Shelley said. “Now it’s starting to happen.”