Elizabethtown 12-U baseball all-stars outscored their opponents 43-18 over a three game span to claim the 2017 Bears Cup championship.
Following an Elijah MacFarlane three-run walk-off home run the semifinals, Wyatt Lamb hit a walk-off two-run home run in the championship game on Sunday, July 30.
“They’ve been doing it for five years. Sometimes it is almost expected. I mean, you don’t expect it, but it is not a surprise,” coach James Fry said about their game-winning home runs.
Little League rules dictate that the game is official if a team is up by eight runs after five innings.
MacFarlane’s home run finished off Lebanon Valley, 10-7, and Lamb’s home run ended Manheim VFW, 17-9.
The home run was Lamb’s third of the game as he went 3-3 with 3 home runs, 4 runs, 9 runs batted in and a walk. On day two of the tournament, Lamb was 5-7 with 3 home runs, 6 runs, 11 RBI and two walks. He was not the only Elizabethtown batter to have a huge day at the plate.
Leadoff man Braden Cummings was 9-12 with 8 runs, 5 RBI and a home run. MacFarlane was 7-11 with 6 runs, 9 RBI and a home run.
Elizabethtown earned the No. 1 seed following Saturday, July 29, action that saw them go 2-0. Hershey also went 2-0, but Elizabethtown gave up fewer runs which was the tiebreaker.
The No. 8 seed was Newville, whom Elizabethtown beat 22-2 the previous day. Not too much changed a day later as Elizabethtown won, 16-2.
Despite the decisive outcome, Newville did jump out to an early 1-0 lead after Chase Sturm drew a walk and scored on a Brady Singer single. Eli Porter earned the win after pitching three innings with three strikeouts and two runs allowed. Josh Rudy and Jared Louie lead the way offensively.
Rudy was 3-3 with three runs scored and three RBI. Louie’s solo homer highlighted a 2-2, 2 runs and 3 RBI day.
Lebanon Valley was Elizabethtown’s second round opponent and proved to provide much stiffer competition.
Through the first two innings, Lebanon Valley lead 4-2. Sydney Stewart sparked the Elizabethtown rally in the third inning with a leadoff single. MacFarlane singled and Lamb brought in Stewart with an RBI single. Thanks to two errors in the inning, Elizabethtown was able to push five runs across to lead 7-4 after three innings.
Lebanon Valley chipped away at Elizabethtown’s lead with one run in the fifth inning. The deficit was two heading into the decisive sixth inning.
Jordy Polanco singled to score Griff Gonzalez, who homered earlier in the game, and Anthony Musser delivered an RBI groundout. The game was tied, but the explosive Elizabethtown offense had their 9-1-2 hitters due up.
After a groundout, Cummings reached on an error and the following batter had struck out. With Stewart at the plate, she laced a hard-hit single to left field. With Cummings racing towards third with two out, the decision was made to hold the winning run rather than send him home.
MacFarlane didn’t allow much drama to build as he hit the walk-off three-run home run to right field to win the game.
Hershey, the No. 2 seed, was upset by Manheim VFW which set up the championship matchup.
Brady Harbach hit one of his three home runs in the top of the first inning to bring in two of their three runs.
Harbach finished the game 4-4 with 3 home runs, 4 runs and 5 RBI. All three home runs came off different Elizabethtown pitchers.
Lamb matched Harbach’s first inning home run with one of his own that scored three. Manheim responded with two more in the second while Elizabethtown scored five to make it 9-5 after two innings.
Manheim was unable to score off MacFarlane in the third inning which gave Elizabethtown the opportunity the add some insurance runs. Lamb did just that with a two-out grand slam. They scored five in the inning.
Harbach homered to lead off the fourth inning and two more reached before Stewart was called upon to close out the game. The defense behind her turned a double-play which helped limit the damage to two runs in the inning. The score was 14-7 after four innings.
Harbach drove in Kye Watson on his third home run to make it 14-9 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Cummings lead off with a home run, Stewart doubled, MacFarlane singled and Lamb ended the game with Elizabethtown’s second walk-off home run of the day.
“He’s a big game player. Always has been. He had three good at-bats and in all three he was just missing the ball. He was missing by a quarter of an inch and it all came together in the championship game,” assistant coach Sean Cummings said.
Cummings, the team’s first base coach, also got to look on as his son, Braden homered in his final at-bat.
“Having it be my son’s last year playing on this field and hitting a home run in his last inning and last at-bat is just perfect. It was the perfect ending to a great run with a great bunch of kids,” Cummings said.
Elizabethtown last won the Bears Cup in 2015.
Fry described the championship feeling as “amazing” because of the group of kids that he was able to coach for multiple seasons.
“I’ve been with them for the last five years and it never loses its fun,” Fry said.
When asked how his players have grown over those last five years, Fry joked that they used to be at his chest and now they’re as tall as him, if not taller. Then he began to reflect on them as baseball players.
“They’re as good as they can be as a 12-year-old baseball team,” Fry said.