Donegal outscores the Phils in NET semis
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
In most cases, baseball coaches are going to feel comfortable taking a four-run lead into the final inning.
Not on Monday night, however.
Not in the New Era Tournament’s Midget-Midget semi-finals.
So when the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League champion Warwick Phillies carried a 16-12 edge into the top of the sixth, skipper Eric Martin knew that it was far from being in the bag.
Sure enough, it wasn’t.
Donegal sent 13 batters to the plate, slugged three home runs and rallied for 10 runs to grab a 22-16 lead. Warwick’s Dalton Uibel answered with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the frame, but it wasn’t enough, as Donegal held on for a wild 22-18 victory at Kunkle Field to advance to Tuesday’s finals against
"Wild," Martin said, summing up the game. "I told the kids, ‘I’ve been involved in 30-24 games and the very next day you run out and it’s 1-0.’ It’s just baseball. It humbles you. If your pitchers are locked in, you just never know what will happen. Offensively, Donegal is one of the toughest in the league. They swing it. They were down 7-1 at one point (against Penn Manor in the quarterfinals) and they came back. They scored four in the bottom of the sixth to win it. We have a nice friendly rivalry with them."
Entering Monday’s action, the Phillies (29-13) led the season series against Donegal 3-2, so they were evenly-matched with their rivals. But despite suffering the loss, Martin said that his players were keeping things in perspective.
"I just pointed out to them that 29-13 is a pretty good run all season long," Martin said. "I pointed out, ‘If you get into college baseball, the hardest thing to do is to sweep doubleheaders.’ In the bigs too. Now if you put it in perspective, it’s real hard to sweep post-season tournaments. Two single-elimination tournaments? That’s real tough. In my mind, when you click on the website, you’re league champions. This is another tournament … The kids enjoyed it. They’re disappointed, but they have the right perspective on things."
The Phillies scored in every inning and Donegal got on the scoreboard in all but one frame. In a back-and-forth game, with the lead changing hands multiple times, Warwick had had the edge 2-0, 5-3, 11-9, 16-12.
Clean-up hitter Uibel finished 3-for-4 with four runs and four RBI’s, while Patrick Mullen, Zach Peters and Gabe Cicala all chipped in with two hits to lead a Phillies’ offense which had 13 total hits.
Tyler Martin’s two-run double down the left field line gave Warwick a 2-0 lead in the first inning. But Donegal answered with three in its next at-bats with only one hit, as the Phillies’ pitchers lost the strike zone.
Donegal starting pitcher Connor Green returned the favor in the favor in the bottom of the third, as Ethan Norman and Ethan Price worked back-to-back leadoff free passes. Justin Smith then had an RBI fielder’s choice and Mullen added an RBI single to left field to put the Phillies back in front 5-3.
Green, though, highlighted a five-run rally by Donegal in the top of the third with a three-run single to right-center, giving his team an 8-5 advantage. For the game, Green finished 5-for-5 with three runs and seven RBI’s out of the three hole as Donegal pounded out 18 hits. Green also finished with seven RBI’s in their win over Penn Manor in the quarters.
"The (Kyle) Hess and Green kids, they swing it," Martin said. "I was asking my assistant, ‘What do you do?’ (Green) was always coming up with someone on first base or the bases loaded. You can’t just put him on. He burned us. He’s a good hitter — very good."
The Phillies had some very good hitters of their own, and they added three in the bottom of the third on Derek Zimmerman’s two-run double and Smith’s Texas League RBI double to shallow right, and they tacked on three more in the fourth as Martin hit a sac fly, Price added an RBI ground out, and another run scored when Cicala reached on an error.
After Donegal pulled back in front in the fifth, 12-11, on Green’s two-run single and Kobe Bistline’s bases-loaded walk, Uibel’s two-run shot to left sparked a five-run eruption for the Phillies to go back up 16-11.
But then it really got wild.
Dale Houser led off with a home run to center to get things started. After Hess (3-for-5, 3 RBI’s) doubled to left-center, that brought up the middle of Donegal’s order and Green singled to center field, Connor Updegraff stroked a two-run double and Steinman’s RBI double tied it up. Later, Chris Nash (3-for-5) hit a two-run double to put them in front. Then Hess hit a two-run homer and Green followed with a blast to right-center to cap the rally, putting Donegal in front 22-16.
"After seeing them all year, I knew they could hit and they had the top of the order batting and those kids swing it," Martin said.
In the Phillies’ half of the sixth inning, Mullen worked a one-out walk and Uibel slammed a two-run homer to left. But Donegal winning pitcher Dawson Magar got back-to-back fly outs to left field to finally end it.
Norman, Price, Smith, Peters and Martin all pitched for the Phillies in the game.
"Most of them go up to 14U next year, but I told them they will never forget their 22-18 game against Donegal at Kunkle Field," Martin said. "They’ll never forget that."
Last Friday, Justin Smith and Patrick Mullen had RBI hits in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the Phillies rallied from a 3-2 deficit and defeated Mt. Joy Blue 4-3 in the Midget-Midget quarterfinals at Kunkle Field.
Earlier, the Phils had also rallied from a 2-0 first-inning hole, and then Mt. Joy snapped a 2-2 tie with a run in the top of the fifth. But Warwick would not be denied.
"They’re battle tested," Martin said. "That was their 41st game this year, so they’re battle tested. When you come upon a team that hasn’t played that many games and when it’s tight … they’ve been in tight games before so they kept their composure."
Smith also pitched the final two innings in relief of starter Dalton Uibel to get the win. He struck out five, including two in a perfect sixth inning to nail it down.
Uibel, who struck out four and scattered seven hits over four innings, did a solid job on the hill to keep the Phils close after Mt. Joy had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning. With one out, Evan Ardini blooped a double to right, Tanner Shirk singled, Collin Brown reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second, and Shirk scored on a Warwick throwing error. Tyler Snyder’s RBI single to left pushed the lead to 2-0.
It stayed that way until five-hole hitter Tyler Martin, leading off the bottom of the second, smashed a long home run to left field on a 1-1 pitch from lefty Collin Brown, making it 2-1.
"When he gets the bat head through, he can drive one every now and then," Martin said.
In the fourth inning, Uibel helped his own cause as he led off with a single right, then stole second and went to third on catcher Snyder’s throwing error. He scored the tying run when Snyder threw to first to complete a strikeout on Zach Peters.
Shirk’s unearned run put Mt. Joy up 3-2 in the top of the fifth, but then the Phillies capitalized on a throwing error by Mt. Joy shortstop Ardini, allowing Tyler Hess to reach base in the bottom of the fifth. One out later, Smith smashed a game-tying double to right-center. After Brown got ahead of Smith 0-2 with two filthy curve balls, Warwick’s three-hole hitter unloaded on a hanging pitch up in the zone to hit the ball into the gap.
"The other two were outside and they were tough ones," Martin said. "I told him they’re going to work him all night with curve balls. He’s our best hitter. He drives to all fields with power, but if you’re facing a curve ball like that from lefty-to-lefty at 12 (years old) … But then he caught a hanger. I thought it had a shot off the bat (to go)."
Next, Mullen followed with a sharp single to center field, driving in Smith with the go-ahead run to give the Phillies a lead they never relinquished. More PHILLIES, page B-6