ENOLA — This season has been an adjustment for Evan Englebrook.
Englebrook pitched at Cumberland Valley and Shippensburg University before being drafted in the eighth round of the MLB Draft by the Houston Astros in 2004. He had stints with the Triple-A Round Rock Express in 2009 and 2010, before he later signed with the Lancaster Barnstormers in the Independent League.
But shoulder problems have limited him the past few years.
The work he’s put in finally paid off Wednesday night at East Pennsboro High School. Englebrook ripped two hits and drove in four runs to pace the Mechanicsburg Cardinals to a 7-2 win over the Enola Express in West Shore Twilight League action.
“I haven’t faced much live pitching over the past 10 years or so,” Englebrook said. “I have been working at hitting off a tee and the first pitch was out over the plate and the second one was out there, too. The first two times I was very relaxed and the last two times I tried to kill the ball. It is fun just being back out here playing again.”
Erik Sawyer pitched a complete game but didn’t throw his usual overpowering game. He walked five batters and struck out only one. He allowed six hits but made key pitches in crucial situations. Enola loaded the bases twice in the last three innings with no outs but came away with only two runs.
Englebrook gave Sawyer support as he roasted a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence, driving in Matt Cody, who singled earlier.
In the third, Teed Wertz singled and moved up on a wild pitch. He later raced home on a Shawn Dressler single. Dressler would come around to score later after a Sam Crater single to right and a Cody ground out. Englebrook’s double to the gap in right-center field capped the outburst, driving home Crater and Kyle Gable, who walked previously.
Mechanicsburg added a run in the seventh on a Ben Eppley sacrifice fly.
“We had our opportunities tonight but couldn’t get those key hits,” Express manager Doug Knull said. “We have hit Sawyer pretty well over the years and we had three big chances with two or three runners on base but we couldn’t get a ball out of the infield.”
Shortstop Teed Wertz made a great play on a dribbler with the bases loaded, beating the batter on a bang-bang play at first base. Zach Sacoman dribbled one off the plate and appeared to beat the play at first but the throw from the catcher was ruled in time.
Mechanicsburg (16-8) is chasing New Cumberland (21-8-1) for the top spot in the playoffs, which start next week. With the win and a New Cumberland loss, the two teams are tied in the loss column. Mechanicsburg still has several games to play this week.
Enola (12-13) should qualify as the fourth seed in the playoffs provided it wins one of its remaining five games.