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FREDERICKSBURG >> Hempfield is going back to the District 3 Class AAAA baseball championship games thanks to a tight 3-2 win against Governor Mifflin Tuesday night at Wenger Field.

The Black Knights — losers to Cedar Cliff in last year's 4-A title game — will play Chambersburg on Thursday at 7 at Santander Stadium in York for the title.

"Baseball's the toughest sport, I think (to get a repeat chance), because it's such an even game," Hempfield coach Jeremy Morrison said, "and sometimes the best teams don't always win. But I think it's an awesome accomplishment for this group and a real tribute to them and our coaching staff. They put in a lot of time.

"I hope they realize the opportunity they have. It doesn't happen often. I hope the kids really relish it."

Governor Mifflin will face Warwick — 6-1 losers to the Trojans in Tuesday's other semifinal — on Thursday with a berth to states on the line, at 4 p.m. at Ephrata's War Memorial Field.

Sometimes the stronger side in the box score comes up on the short end. Mifflin outhit Hempfield, 9-4, and seemed to have Knights' starter Jon Peterson on the ropes a couple of times in the early going, but Hempfield's veteran southpaw was able to limit the damage.

"It seems like every inning they had something going," Morrison said of the Mustangs. "That's a very talented team. An excellent team. We knew they were going to battle."

Meanwhile, Mifflin's John Catchmark surrendered just four hits, but it was the timing of those hits that inflicted the damage. Three of them went for extra bases and provided all the offense the Knights would need.

"We have had battles with Hempfield, district-wise, the last few years," Mifflin head coach Chris Hole said. "They are such a quality program, and this was exactly the type of game we expected."

With the clubs deadlocked at 2, Derek Manning provided the tie-breaking, game-winning RBI in the bottom of the third inning against Catchmark, when his two-out double down the left line scored Grant Oberholtzer, who had walked and moved to second base on a ground out.

"Derek's two-out, two-strike double down the line was real clutch," Morrison said. "He's a fantastic young hitter, and we have that much confidence in him. He really turned on the baseball there."

The Mustangs surrendered a pair of runs in the bottom of the first to fall behind before rallying in the top of the second to tie it.

After Oberholtzer led off the game for the Black Knights with a double, Peterson helped himself with an RBI triple to the deepest part of Wenger, in dead center. It was a gift triple in a sense, because Mifflin center fielder Zach Weidner got turned around on the ball and misjudged how far it was hit. By the time he recovered his bearings, the baseball had flown beyond his reach and one-hopped off the fence. Jon Beck brought Peterson in with a ground out to make it 2-0.

Mifflin rallied with four consecutive singles in the second good for two runs, but it seemed like it could have been more. The placement of the base hits — shallow for the most part — condemned the Stangs to a station-to-station rally. Ajay Sczepkowski's single with bases loaded made it a 2-1 game, then Weidner's sacrifice fly to right tied it.

Mifflin had a chance to dent Peterson for more runs in the third, but a curious decision to have five-hole hitter Eric Mock bunt with runners on first and second with no outs backfired. Mock failed to place a bunt down to the left side on three successive pitches, striking him out.

"Eric looked down at me at third base and said, 'I got this' and as a senior, I trusted him," Hole said. "You know, Peterson's ball runs a bit, and in that case I trusted my senior.

"I know from a baseball perspective that's a little unorthodox, but we've done that before. And Eric is probably the second-best, if not the best, bunter on the team."

After a free pass from Peterson loaded the bases, the promising rally was snuffed out by a line drive double play at third base pulled off by Hempfield third sacker Ben Lukawski.

Mifflin had a runner reach as far as second base only once more, in the sixth. Evan Pollock singled to lead off the frame and reached second on a strikeout and wild pitch. But he was left stranded on a fly out to right and a pop-up to Peterson to retire the side.

Hempfield 3, Governor Mifflin 2

Governor Mifflin0200000—290Hempfield201000x—341

H, Jon Peterson and Jon Beck. GM, John Catchmark and Earl Kochel.

SO-BB — H, Peterson 5-1. GM, Catchmark 7-2; W — Peterson; L — Catchmark; 2B — H, Gran Oberholtzer, Derek Manning; 3B — H, Peterson.

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