Fourth straight win lifts Warriors into first-place tie

By on April 12, 2017
Warwick’s (left to right) Zach Peters, Ethan Norman and catcher Ryan Aukamp (24) hold a mound conference last Friday in their game against Manheim Township. Norman earned a complete-game win against the Streaks, and then Peters went the distance in a win against Hempfield on Monday. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Warwick’s (left to right) Zach Peters, Ethan Norman and catcher Ryan Aukamp (24) hold a mound conference last Friday in their game against Manheim Township. Norman earned a complete-game win against the Streaks, and then Peters went the distance in a win against Hempfield on Monday. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Peters outduels Hempfield’s Seitz

Zach Peters had a lot of adrenaline going through his body in the seventh inning on Monday.

You can’t blame him.

Warwick’s senior right-hander was just three outs away from a complete-game victory over first-place Hempfield in a key Section One showdown.

But that adrenaline might help explain why he walked CJ Saylor leading off the inning with the Warriors ahead by just one run.

“Just slowing down there and going pitch-by-pitch, that’s all it was there,” Peters said.

Slowing down helped him induce a rally-killing double-play grounder by Nick Boulanger, and then he whiffed Tanner Seitz on three pitches, as the Warriors nailed down a 2-1 win over the Black Knights in Landisville.

While handing previously-unbeaten Hempfield (3-1 L-L, 6-1 overall) its first loss, Warwick (3-1 L-L, 5-1 overall) created a three-way logjam with Penn Manor (3-1, 5-2) atop the Section One heap.

“I hope the kids feel good about the way they’re playing and the progress we’re making,” Warrior coach Bob Locker said. “It’s a little early to be looking at the standings, but you can’t hide from the fact that that you don’t want to fall too far behind early on. It’s pretty difficult to dig back out.”

The Warriors certainly had to like their chances sending Peters to the hill. Although his scoreless innings streak was snapped at 17 after allowing an unearned run in the fifth, he K’d six, walked one and yielded five hits while improving to 3-0, 0.00 ERA.

Much of his success against the Knights was due to the fact that he threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 25 batters he faced.

“It was very important,” said Peters, who finished with 91 pitches. “Throwing a strike right away, it gave me an opportunity to use my other two pitches throughout the game. My curve ball was on most of the night.”

Peters found himself in a pitcher’s duel with Seitz, each allowing just one hit through three innings.

Hempfield’s righty escaped a two-out bases-loaded jam in the fourth, and then Warrior first baseman Justin Byler snared a line drive by Boulanger and turned an unassisted double play to get Peters out of a one-out bases-loaded pickle in the bottom of that inning.

“That was a nice play,” Locker said. “We are a very good defensive baseball team and we got ourselves out of some jams today.”

It remained scoreless until the fifth, when Warwick’s Bryce Zimmerman — moved into the leadoff spot — reached on an error and scored on an RBI double to left field by Nate Hess (2-for-4).

Next, Byler ripped an 0-1 pitch from Seitz for an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Third baseman Brendan Martin also went 2-for-3 with a walk in the win for Warwick. Seitz allowed two runs on six hits, with three K’s and two walks, in five-plus innings.

“We had good swings today,” Locker said. “It was good to see that I think we’re getting closer every game. The kid (Seitz) threw a good game for them.”

The Black Knights got one back in the bottom of the fifth, as Seitz led off and singled to right, moved to third on a wild pick-off attempt and scored on TJ Biondolillo’s sacrifice fly to right field.

But that’s all Hempfield would get off of Peters, whose batterymate Ryan Aukamp erased two base runners by throwing them out trying to steal.

“If you look at every one of his outings this year,” Locker said, “anytime he takes the mound, we’re going to be in a baseball game. He gives us a shot to win games without having to score five, six runs, so that’s what he brings to the table.”

*****

Last Friday, senior outfielder Nate Hess lifted the Warriors to a dramatic 3-2 Section One win over rival Manheim Township, slugging a two-out, walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh in chilly, wind-swept Lititz.

Trailing 2-1 entering its final at-bats, Warwick kept its hopes alive when Josh Weachter (2-for-3) hit an infield single. Tyler Hess entered as a pinch-runner and then Nate Hess didn’t miss on a 1-0 pitch from Blue Streak pitcher Colin Morrisette, launching the ball over the fence in right field.

Hess, batting leadoff, finished the day 2-for-4, including an RBI triple to right-center in the fifth, and Zach Peters was a perfect 3-for-3.

“(Nate) had a good swing on the other one and I think the bench had a sense of, ‘Hey, we’re in a good position here,’” Locker said. “And we had Tyler available as a pinch runner today, so we felt real good about the fact that if we hit a gapper, we thought we could plate Tyler. And when he hit it, with the wind today, I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s over.’ And then boom, clearly it was gone. That’s two big hits today that he had.”

Nate Hess’ big blow got the W for pitcher Ethan Norman on the mound. Needing just 88 pitches, the senior right-hander went the distance, yielding two runs on just five hits, with four Ks and one walk.

“Oh my God, I look at it as one of those bulldog performances,” Locker said. “He gutted it out, kept them off-balance and just did a really fantastic job. He had good control, he threw all three pitches for strikes today, so that was important.”

Norman had a no-hitter through three innings, but then Township’s Hunter McClintock reached on an infield hit and later scored on Joseph Rudzinski’s sac fly to right field to put the Blue Streaks up 1-0.

A two-out rally by Warwick in the bottom of the fifth inning tied it, as Weachter singled to right and scored on Hess’ triple.

Rece Bender’s RBI fielder’s choice in the sixth inning drove in Luke Emge with the go-ahead run for MT in the top of the seventh, making it 2-1. But the Warriors pulled it out in the end.

*****

The Warriors did, in fact, carry that energy into Saturday, riding a strong five-inning outing from pitcher Brendan Martin and a 12-hit attack in an 11-1 six-inning non-league win over South Western.

Justin Byler ripped a three-run homer to right in the third to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. Martin then got two key strikeouts in the fifth to escape a jam before handing the ball over to Reed Martin out of the ‘pen to finish up. Jake Weachter helped the Warriors’ cause by throwing out a Mustangs’ runner trying to score from third.

*****

Last Wednesday, April 5, Peters tossed a two-hit complete-game gem to lead the Warriors in a 1-0 shutout over Penn Manor in a Section One game in Millersville.

The senior righty struck out nine and walked none while improving to 2-0 in the early going. He benefited from a nice running grab by senior Jake Weachter in deep right field.

Warwick scored the game’s only run in the top of the first, as Bryce Zimmerman and Byler singled, then Peters helped his own cause with an RBI single up the middle. From there, Peters went on to pitch his second straight shutout.

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