SCOTLAND -- A Spring Grove team that had been scoring runs in bunches could only come up with six hits.
A Spring Grove team that normally played solid defense committed four costly errors.
The end result was an 11-1 eight-inning mercy-rule loss to Ephrata on Wednesday in the Region 4 American Legion Baseball Tournament.
The loss ended a stellar season for the Papertown team, which finished 20-4, including the York-Adams regular-season and tournament championships. Spring Grove finished 3-2 in the double-elimination Region 4 event.
Ephrata (18-6) went on to take the Region 4 crown and earn a state tournament berth with a 4-3 victory over Waynesboro later on Wednesday.
"I think our defense let us down," Spring Grove manager Matt Spangler said. "We had opportunities early on in the fourth and fifth innings and only got one run across."
Spring Grove scored its only run in the fourth inning on an RBI single from Levi Krause. That tied the game at 1-1, but Spring Grove stranded two more runners in the inning. After Ephrata grabbed the lead back with a run in the bottom of the fourth, Spring Grove wasted a golden opportunity in the top of the fifth when it loaded the bases but could not score.
Ephrata plated single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to increase its lead to 4-1. Two runs in the seventh and a five spot in the eighth by Ephrata invoked the 10-run mercy rule, ending the game.
Overall, Spring Grove stranded nine runners, including five in scoring position. The York County team had been averaging more than eight runs per game in the postseason going into the Ephrata contest. Much of the credit for Spring Grove's offensive woes on Wednesday had to go to Ephrata's Brandon Miller, who pitched a complete game, striking out four and walking four.
Defensively, Spring Grove's four errors led to eight unearned runs.
"Four errors and six hits won't win a lot of games," Spangler said. "Give credit to Miller. He pitched a great game. I understand that he was their ace and he threw the ball really well. They got timely hits when they got runners in scoring position and we didn't. We lost focus a little. When you make errors vs. a good-hitting team, it's tough to win."
Nick Spangler led Spring Grove's offense, going 2-for-3, including a double. For the tournament, Spangler went 10-for-20 and scored five runs.
Spangler, the team's leading hitter, should return next season, along with nearly the entire Spring Grove roster. Only Jake Molison, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the York-Adams Tournament, has used up his Legion eligibility. Trevor Troxel, the Outstanding Pitcher in the York-Adams Tournament, should also return.
"I'm still very proud of our showing this season," Matt Spangler said. "The guys battled through nine-inning games for five straight days (in the Region 4 Tournament). It was quite an accomplishment. We're very young -- we have everybody back except one guy, so we're looking to make a run next year. The guys got a taste of it this year. It was an outstanding year. I was very pleased with how we played and how we got through adversity. I can't say enough about the job this team did all year long. It was a total team effort."
-- Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdis patch.com.