Tuesday, January 23, 2018
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Mounts win District 3 Title

READING — Matt McGillan found out Wednesday night at practice he would be handed the ball for Ephrata's first appearance in a district title game.

“He's a senior," Mountaineers skipper Adrian Shelley said. "He's earned it."

With the aid of clutch hitting, solid defense and an inning's worth of relief from his brother Zach, a freshman, Matt earned something else — a 7-4 victory over Governor Mifflin and District Three Class AAAA gold Thursday at Reading's First Energy Stadium.

Ephrata players celebrate after winning the District 3 AAAA championship game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading Thursday. Photo credit © Blaine Shahan — LNP

"It's a big deal for us," said McGillan, who worked six solid innings. "We haven't been on a stage like this."

The Mounts, an L-L League and Section Two power for years, had not been past the second round of districts since 2004. Seeded third, Ephrata (21-5) wasted little time taking an early lead on the No. 9 Mustangs (17-8).

Adam Schwartz worked a one-out walk in the second off starter Corbin Dunnuck and Pat Gallagher followed with another walk. That brought on reliever Joe Adametz, whose pickoff throw sailed wide of second base and was followed by Nick Auker's run-scoring groundout.

Mitchell Storb was hit by a pitch, Gallagher scored on a wild pitch and Evan Frees made it 3-0 with the first of his two RBI singles.

"They were aggressive," Mustangs manager Chris Hole said. "They were everything we thought they would be. They ran the bases hard, they did a lot of little things well and they capitalized on our mistakes."

Dillon Good increased the Mounts' margin to 4-0 in the third when he pulled a 2-1 fastball over the left field wall. The home run is Good's first since last year's L-L title game.

"I was comfortable up there," Good said. "I was relaxed."

Riding a cut fastball and a curve, McGillan carried a two-hitter into the fifth.

"When you're pitching with a lead," he said, "you have a lot more confidence."

Mifflin bunched together four straight singles to score three runs in the fifth and cut its deficit to a run. Dylan Louviaux drove in two runs and Adam Sczepkowski one before McGillan got the final out.

"I was kind of beating myself up," said McGillan, who deflected a potential double-play ball off the bat of Phillip Henry. "(Shortstop) Nate (Fassnacht) would have had that."

The Mounts countered with three runs in the sixth. Auker pulled a one-out single to right and Storb worked reliever Noah Angstadt for a walk. Frees followed with an RBI single to center and Carvell reached on an error. Fassnacht plated another run with a fly to right and Chase Weik brought in Ephrata's final run with a single.

The Mustangs got an RBI single from Sczepkowski in the seventh before Zach McGillan ended matters with a strikeout.

"We played so well for so many games, we know what we're capable of," Hole said. "We know how well we can play. Today we just didn't have our best."

The Mounts did, and it translated into a title. Auker, as he did in Tuesday's taut 1-0 semifinal win over Cumberland Valley, turned in another web gem in right field. And Weik and Good combined to turn a nifty 5-3 double play to corral the Mustangs in the seventh.

So what makes this Mounts squad special?

"We've playing together so long, it drives us," said Frees, a 9-hole hitter who has turned the postseason into a personal showcase.

Shelley cited the same fact as Frees, that this team has grown up together and benefited from good coaching through the ranks.

There's one more thing.

"These are baseball guys," said Shelley, who emphasized that Ephrata is not one of the larger Quad-A schools in District Three.

"It takes a little magic," he said of the title.

A little magic that leads to a lot of memories.