Controversy mars Warwick’s L-L League loss to Norlebco
Big 6-foot-4 Warwick lefty Travis Reapsome moved his frame in cat-like fashion as he appeared to throw out Northern Lebanon’s Dave Brooks on a drag bunt in the top of the eighth inning.
Unfortunately for the Section One champion Warriors, they didn’t get the call.
And when the Vikings capitalized by snapping a 2-2 tie, scoring what proved to be the decisive run in a 3-2 L-L League quarterfinal playoff win at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field, the Warriors were not pleased with the controversial ruling.
It only got worse in the bottom of the eighth.
Another missed call, this time costing Warwick’s Luke Hackman a bunt base hit, dealt the Warriors a key blow in their comeback hopes, and the Section Three runner-up Vikings advanced with a one-run win.
“The game is supposed to be decided by the kids, not by two blown calls, and if they don’t like the fact that we bring this stuff up, that’s too bad,” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “The guy’s an umpire in a League playoff game. It should be a reward (for the top umpires). People should be there who can do their job. He blew two calls. It’s as simple as that. I’m not saying it wins (the game) one way or another, but (Norlebco) doesn’t score a run, that’s for sure. So then we’re still playing. That was horrible.”
The good news for the Warriors is that the loss doesn’t end their season. The bad news is they have to wait nine days until their District Three Quad-A opener on Monday, May 19. Warwick claimed the No. 12 spot in the District power ratings.
“(I told the guys) that they’ve still got baseball to play, we’ve still got a chance to go to Districts,” Locker said. “I reminded them that the year we won the District title (2008), we didn’t even make League playoffs. So it’s a matter of getting hot and fixing some stuff and rolling into Districts ready to play.”
They came ready to go on Saturday, taking a 2-0 first-inning lead off of Vikings’ starter Ian Whitman. Hackman singled and scored on Ian Hart’s RBI triple, and then one out later, Reapsome hit a sacrifice fly.
With Reapsome on the hill, the Warriors couldn’t have asked for a better start. Warwick’s ace lefty did his part by retiring the first 10 batters he faced until Norlebco right fielder Dave Brooks singled with one out in the fourth. Following a wild pitch, Brooks crossed the plate on Wyatt Beakler’s two-out base hit, making it 2-1.
In the meantime, Whitman settled into a zone for the Vikings. After the first inning, he retired 16 of the next 18 batters he faced, allowing only a one-out double to Reapsome in the third inning.
“My hat’s off to their pitcher,” Locker said. “After the first inning, he made adjustments in the way he was throwing us and the kid’s real good. He’s a very, very good pitcher and they played scrappy baseball. They hung in. We had chances and we didn’t take care of our business.”
Overall, Whitman finished with eight K’s and just one walk while scattering four base hits.
“He kept us off-balance,” Locker said. “His breaking stuff was real good and he had our kids off balance. We just struggled with it.”
In the top of the sixth, Norlebco pushed across the tying run as Darrin Shirk set the table with a one-out single and scored on catcher Drew Bene’s two-out RBI base hit.
It remained a 2-2 game into the bottom of the seventh, where the Warriors had a golden opportunity to end it. With one out, Derek Acaley’s pop up was dropped by Bene and Michael Perezous reached on an error by NL shortstop Brett Minnich, putting runners at second and third. Whitman then recorded his eighth K and Bene redeemed himself with a tough inning-ending catch near the mound.
The missed opportunity looked big moments later in the top of the eighth as Shirk singled and then Brooks reached on the disputed bunt base hit.
“(The umpire) said Brooks beat the throw to the bag and clearly that wasn’t the case,” Locker said. “Their guys admitted it. That still doesn’t change the fact we had a chance to win it. The bottom line is, runners on second and third with one out, you’ve got to put a ball in play. We didn’t.”
After Bene’s fielder’s choice grounder put runners on the corners, Shirk scored the go-ahead run on Beakler’s RBI fielder’s choice, putting the Vikings up 3-2.
When Hackman appeared to beat out a bunt base hit leading off the bottom of the frame, Warwick appeared to be in business.
Again, the ruling didn’t go their way.
With two outs, Ben Keyser kept it alive with a base hit, but Whitman ended the game by inducing a fly out to left field.
Reapsome (3-2) suffered the tough-luck loss, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.
“(Travis) deserved to win the game,” Locker said. “He pitched real well and he gutted it out for eight innings. I mean, he deserved a better fate than he got.”
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.