Waynesboro travels to face fourth-seed Ephrata

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The Waynesboro Indians varsity baseball team captured a must-win victory last Wednesday against Chambersburg.

Garrett Beaver, the team’s ace pitcher who finished 8-2 with 66 strikeouts and just 10 walks, struck out 10 batters through the first five innings and held Chambersburg to a single hit en route to a 3-0 win at Greene Township Park in Scotland.

The Tribe (13-7) was rated 17th at the time and out of the field of 16. The win boosted head coach Travis Hardman’s team to 13th and a first-round matchup with fourth-seed Ephrata (14-6) at War Memorial Field in Ephrata.

“I honestly feel like if we play like we did Wednesday at Chambersburg, I think we could go on a little run,” said Hardman, who is preparing for the game and will be attending Sunday’s Mid-Penn Colonial Division all-star team meeting. “Both teams had only one hit; and it really comes down to pitching and defense.

“If we pitch and play defense like we did – we didn’t make any errors – it gives us a good chance to win.”

When Beaver is on, he doesn’t give up many hits. When he does, most are singles. Of the 45 hits he gave up, 36 were singles and nine were doubles.

It’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished when the pitcher sets the tone for a game. It gives confidence to both the defense and offense.

“Going into the season we didn’t know what to expect,” said Hardman of the group’s progress after having to replace the entire starting infield and were unsure of the impact of the pitching staff, which also included sophomore Mason Gochenour.

“When you have a young team, you don’t know what to expect. Pitching wise we really needed (Garrett) Beaver to be the ace, and he did that. Mason was going to be our number two pitcher as a sophomore.”

Waynesboro is batting .292 as a team, led by senior left fielder Garrett Blound, who is hitting at a .380 clip. Senior catcher Maddox Brooks is right behind him at .379.

Ephrata upset Class 6A second seed Warwick in the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament and also played (and lost) to two of the top 10 teams in 6A (Red Lion and Cumberland Valley).

“I don’t know a ton about them,” Hardman said. “I know in their league they had a big win over Warwick. So they’re coming off a high as well. They must have solid pitching; a lot of their scores were low.

“If we pitch and play defense, I anticipate the game being a lot like the other night – quick and a low-scoring game.”

The opponent isn’t the only thing Waynesboro is taking into account. The field is also used for football and it’s a turf field, not grass. There’s a fence in left field, but center field and right field are open.

“Don’t let the ball get by you. Stay down on ground balls,” Hardman said. “There’s not going to be a lot of bounces. It even affects sliding, You’ve gotta slide earlier; there’s a chance you could slide right by the base.”

The winner of Monday’s game will go on to the quarterfinals to play the winner of No. 5 Exeter Township (14-5) and No. 12 Twin Valley (12-7).

Greencastle-Antrim (13-6), who split with Waynesboro this season, drew an eighth seed and will host No. 9 Donegal (14-6).

A third Mid-Penn Colonial Division team, Northern York, is an 11th seed and will play at No. 6 Susquehannock on Monday.