Lancaster-Lebanon Playoffs Preview



By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

The Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs begin on Saturday, May 11 with a full day of quarterfinal action at Ephrata's War Memorial Field, which will also host the semifinals on Tuesday, May 14 (times TBD). The championship game will be held at 7:00pm on Thursday, May 16 at Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers from the independent Atlantic League.

Sixteen regular-season games weren't enough to finalize the bracket, as Warwick and Hempfield needed a third head-to-head meeting (won 4-3 by Hempfield with three runs in the bottom of the 7th) to decide the Section1 title and tournament seeding. With that now settled, below are the quarterfinal match-ups, in bracket order (note game times after each match-up).

4A Warwick (15-6, 13-3 Section 1) vs 3A Lancaster Catholic (16-3, 14-2 Section 4), 10:00am

The schedule makers started the day off with a bang, as it is quite conceivable that these two teams could have met in the title game had Warwick held on for the Section 1 crown. Instead, those who are willing to set their alarms for a Saturday morning wake-up should be in for a treat.

LC enters on a serious roll, having won 15 of its last 16 games, with the only setback during that stretch coming 6-5 at the hands of Section 3 champ Donegal. Coach Chris Kiehl will hand the ball to 2015 RHP Willie Burger (4-0, 0.26, 7 H, 15 BB, 44 K in 27 IP) against a Warwick offense led by Liberty-bound Tyler Morris (.534, 23 R, 14 XBH, 18 RBI, 6 SB) and 2014 C Ian Hart (.384, 19 R, 15 RBI).

Burger2014 LHP Travis Reapsome (5-1, 1.40, 31 H, 15 BB, 68 K in 40 IP) is the likely mound opponent for Burger (right). Reapsome would be tasked with shutting down an LC offense that sports four players hitting over .400 -- Longwood-bound Mac McCafferty (.471, 27 RBI), NJIT-bound Bryan Haberstroh (.457, 31 R, 18 XBH, 27 RBI), Cal U-bound Joe Yourgal (.456, 18 RBI), and Burger (.420, 17 XBH, 22 RBI).

Both pitching staffs are built for a run through the bracket, with LC boasting a 1.56 team ERA (led by Yourgal and Washington College-bound Tom Mattaini) and Warwick sporting a 2.79 with 153 K in 145.1 IP.

3A Manheim Central (15-5, 12-4 Section 3) vs 4A Ephrata (15-5, 11-5 Section 2), 4:00pm

These two schools saw nearly identical flows to their seasons, starting out extremely hot (each won 10 of their first 11 games) before coming back to earth a bit with a 5-4 stretch to finish the regular season. All of Ephrata's losses have been by three runs or less (including three by one run).

MC's line-up is led by 2014 IF Colin Fry (.478, 17 R, 20 RBI) and 2014 OF Ben Bomberger (.388, 24 R, 26 RBI).  The youngest offense in the field (coach Jason Thompson only wrote one senior into the line-up on a consistent basis) will try to provide run support for either Albright-bound Trey Eberly (1-0, 0.72, 5 SV, 10 H, 2 BB, 25 K in 19.1 IP) or 2014 RHP Andrew Bucher (5-1, 2.17, 40 H, 19 BB, 27 K in 42 IP).

Ephrata coach Adrian Shelley is expected to tab either Millersville-bound Brandon Miller (4-1, 2.43, 27 H, 23 BB, 37 K in 40.1 IP) or 2013 RHP Seth Griffith (5-3, 2.00, 42 H, 10 BB, 29 K in 42 IP) for the start on the bump. Even if Miller does not toe the rubber, he will have the opportunity to impact the game with his bat (.404, 19 R, 29 RBI), along with fellow offensive standouts 2013 IF Matt Herbener (.500, 24 R, 19 SB) and 2014 C Colin Albright (.368, 17 RBI, .456 OBP). In addition, at the risk of jinxing him, 2013 switch-hitter Paul Larusso (.295, 22 R, .419 OBP, 9-10 SB) has started all 80 regular-season contests of his career at SS.

4A Solanco (12-8, 10-6 Section 2) vs 3A Donegal (18-2, 14-2 Section 3), 1:00pm

Before a 2-1 loss to Lampeter-Strasburg to close out the regular season, Donegal had won 15 straight contests (only other loss is to Manheim Central). Lebanon Valley-bound Michael Houseal (6-1, 2.33, 55 H, 16 BB, 52 K in 57 IP), who will draw the start on Saturday, has been a horse for coach Chris Miller, racking up more than twice as many innings as #2 starter 2013 Dalton Garrett (5-0, 2.00, 17 H, 20 BB, 31 K in 28 IP).

The offense has been powered by Houseal (.410, 19 R, 17 RBI, .500 OBP, 6 SB), his cousin Dylan Houseal (.386, 18 R, 18 RBI, .451 OBP, 8 SB), and 2014s SS Austin Mellinger (.391, 17 R, 21 RBI, .458 OBP) and OF Justin Amspacher (.302, 11 R, 11 RBI, .391 OBP).

To contain the Indians bats, Solanco coach Tom Fish will turn to 2014 RHP Zack Leonard (5-2, 1.87, 30 H, 19 BB, 69 K in 48.2 IP). His primary run support should come from Harford CC-bound Harrison Ault (.333, 11 RBI) and 2014 Darren Rutledge (.322, 15 RBI), who are also 2nd and 3rd on the team in innings pitched.

2A Annville-Cleona (12-8, 10-6 Section 4) vs 4A Hempfield (17-4, 13-3 Section 1), 7:00pm

HughesIt has been a season of streaks for AC, as they won 6 of their first 7 games, lost 5 of 6, then won 5 of 7 to end the regular season. Coach Scott Shyda will run Clarion-bound Tanner Fitting (3-3, 3.64, 45 H, 22 BB, 32 K in 32.2 IP) out to the bump in game one.  2014 IF/RHP Mitch Rodkey (.344, 21 R, .453 OBP) led the offense throughout the season, while 2014 OF Zack Southall (.375, 14 R) came on strong in the second half. Injured Bloomsburg-bound Nat Hughes (right) has been gutting out defensively in recent weeks, but the Dutchmen have missed having his bat in the line-up.

Even with the section title, it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Hempfield this season. They incurred a 3-game losing streak in early April that happened to coincide with injuries to West Virginia-bound Shaun Corso, which knocked him out for the season, and UNC-Wilmington-bound Cory Gantz, which necessitated removing him from from the rotation. The Black Knights rebounded, however, to win 11 of their final 12 games heading into the tournament.

Despite not being able to pitch, Gantz (.391, 18 R, 19 RBI, 10 SB) has led the offense along with Grove City-bound Nolan Myers (.351, 18 RBI, .513 OBP) and Pitt-bound Nick Yarnall (.299, 18 R, 25 RBI, 11 SB). Getting the call on the mound is Pitt-Johnstown-bound RHP Camden Hess (4-1, 1.50, 26 H, 12 BB, 46 K in 37.1 IP). Should they advance to the semifinals, coach Jeremy Morrison will be able to choose from 2013 Chris Schroll (5-1, 1.30, 21 H, 14 BB, 34 K in 32.1 IP) and 2015 Jon Peterson (3-1, 2.31, 27 H, 9 BB, 40 K in 36.1 IP).

Additional PA news: