Karpathios' Towering Blast in 9th Inning Puts Pioneers Into District Quarterfinals

On Monday night, the baseball team started their District III playoff campaign with a matchup against the Spring Grove Rockets. The 11th seeded Rockets entered the matchup with a record of 13-7, while the 6th seeded Pioneers boasted a 17-6 record. The Rockets had won 4 games in a row before losing to Waynesboro in their final regular season matchup. The Pioneers were on a 9 game win streak prior to falling to Manheim Central in the L-L League title game. 

Braedon Karpathios Takes Field in Game at Ephrata (Cynthia Powell)

Senior ace Caleb Guyer started the game on the hill for the Pioneers. The southpaw boasted a 1.47 ERA heading into play. Beau Boyers tossed for the Rockets. The Rockets struck first in the 3rd inning when Boyers helped himself out and drove a single into left field, scoring Landon Bailey. The Pioneers answered back in the bottom half of the frame when courtesy runner Myles McQueen crossed the plate on a groundout by Alex Knapp. McQueen was moved into scoring position by a sacrifice bunt from Joey Doolittle. 

The game turned into a low-scoring pitcher's duel from there, as the two teams combined for a total of 3 hits over the next 4 innings. Boyers was very efficient on the mound, throwing only 100 pitches in 8 innings of work. Guyer lasted 5.2 innings for the Pioneers, being replaced by super-reliever Gehrig Harsh for the final 3.1 innings. 

Both teams had their chance to take the lead. In the bottom of the 7th, Gehrig Harsh was at the plate with a runner on third base. On a 0-2 count, Harsh hit the ball hard but right at center fielder Owen Sporer. The Rockets had a runner on base in the 9th inning, but he was gunned out attempting to steal second base by catcher Andrew Whitehead. 

Landon Bailey replaced Boyers in the 9th inning. He didn't pitch for long. Feared hitter Braedon Karpathios was due to lead off the inning for the Pioneers. On the 4th pitch of the at-bat on a 2-1 count, Karpathios hit a missile over the scoreboard in right field to send the Pioneer fans home happy. Waiting until the ball crossed over the fence, Karpathios sent his bat into the stratosphere before rounding the bases and being mauled by his teammates at home plate. The Pioneers won the game by a score of 2-1.

Karpathios Walk-Off Home Run

Unfortunately for the Rockets, their season is over. As for the Pioneers, they advance to the quarterfinals and will head to Denver for another matchup with the Cocalico Eagles. The Pioneers defeated the Eagles 4-2 in the L-L League Quarterfinals earlier this month. The winner of that matchup will advance to the semifinals and clinch qualification for the PIAA playoffs. The loser will fall into the Consolation bracket and will need to win 2 consecutive games to qualify. 

- By Logan Moyer, LS News reporter

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