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Heck of a day Phillies beat Mountville for NET title
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
If the Warwick Phillies handed out a ‘Quietest Player of the Team’ award, it would go to left fielder Caleb Heck.
Last Saturday, he let his bat do the talking in the finals of the 68th New Era Midget-Midget Tournament against the Mountville Indians.
Heck finished 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and four RBI’s, then scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth on Dagen Young’s two-out walk-off single to left field, as the number-two seeded Philllies (39-5) knocked off top-seeded Mountville 6-5 at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.
"(Caleb) does not say much, he just goes about his business," Phillies’ coach Eric Martin said. "He works his tail off and it’s good to see him get four RBI’s. It was a big day for Caleb."
It was a big day day for the Phillies, who won their second title in five years – fourth overall – and first since 2009.
"We call them ‘dirtbags’ because it’s their style of play," Martin said. "They don’t give ground to anybody. No matter the size, no matter how experienced a team is, they do not give ground to anybody. They go toe-to-toe."
Which is exactly what they did against the Indians on Saturday.
Phillies’ Game One starter Brock Fassnacht, who shut down Manheim Township 4-2 in the quarter-final round, got the starting nod and Mountville manufactured a first-inning run to take an early 1-0 lead. Leadoff batter Cole Houser (2-for-4) stroked a single to center and stole second base. He advanced to third on Ryan Moffatt’s ground out and scored on CJ Saylor’s RBI grounder to short.
But Mountville’s advantage didn’t last long. After leaving two runners on base in the bottom of the first, the Phillies struck in the second inning. Fassnacht singled to left and Ethan Heller coaxed a five-pitch walk. That brought Heck to the plate, who worked a 2-1 count against Indians’ starter Ryan Moffatt before smashing an opposite field home run over the fence in right field.
"I was just trying to go the other way, not try to pull the ball," Heck recalled. "I thought it was either going to hit the top of the wall or go out, I didn’t know."
"He is a dead fastball hitter," Martin said. "(Last Tuesday), a couple people questioned when we had second and third and I gave him a 3-0 green light to hack. They said, ‘Why are you doing that?’ He can easily make it a three-run difference quickly. He’s a big, strong kid. Today again, it’s a 2-1 pitch, he’s locked in and he drives power to all fields."
It was just what the doctor ordered for Heck’s confidence. Earlier in the season, he had been struggling and dealing with an injury before going on a family vacation to Alaska. Then in the New Era Tournament, he was 0-for-4 leading up to his home run.
"I knew I wasn’t doing too good in the tournament," Heck said, "so I was like, ‘I need to help my team because it’s the championship, we’re playing a good team, we need to step it up."
The Phils added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth, capitalizing when Mountville reliever Ty Vaughn lost command of the plate. Max Bright and Jeffrey Kline worked back-to-back walks and then Heck stepped up again, this time hitting an RBI single to left field to push Warwick’s lead to 4-1.
"(The pitch) was a little inside, but I was able to make my bat (get around) and it just went through the hole," Heck said.
"He was clutch this tournament," Young said.
The Phillies’ pitching was clutch, as well. Fassnacht allowed just three hits through the first four innings, on his way to striking out four and walking just one in 4!-E innings in the no-decision. Seth Constein greeted him with a pinch-hit single leading off the fifth, and then after getting Houser on a fly out and reaching 75 pitches, Martin called on his other ace, Ryan Breznak, to finish it.
"We knew Brock went six on Monday," Martin said. "We were starting him, but we knew we didn’t have six out of him. The rain (which postponed the game Friday) did help us because that made Breznak eligible. (Friday) he was not. That rain gave him three days rest and all of a sudden, we have another live arm. And he was live. He wanted the ball."
Moffatt singled just over second base and then Constein scored on an errant pickoff throw before CJ Saylor flared an RBI single to right field to make it 4-3. But Breznak got out of the inning with one of his four K’s, preserving a one-run lead for Lititz.
The Phillies got a run back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Adam Ricketts doubled to left-center, went to third on a balk, and Breznak helped his cause with an RBI single to center field.
With the Indians trailing 5-3 in their final at-bats, Josiah Snyder stroked a one-out double to left-center. After Breznak struck out Christian Shepperson, Mountville was down to its final strike before Nick Fiore singled to right field. Constein then worked a four-pitch walk to load the bases, building the drama.
Houser was next, and he worked a 1-2 count before Breznak broke a curve ball which appeared to catch the plate. But the Phillies didn’t get the call, and one pitch later, Houser smacked a game-tying two-run double just inside the third base bag, making it 5-5.
Breznak, who eventually picked up the win in relief, ended the inning with a punch-out.
And that set up the heroics of Heck and Young in the bottom of the sixth. Heck did his job to get on base, delivering a one-out hit to right. A wild pitch and an errant pickoff throw by Snyder, who suffered the loss, put Heck at third base, and after Mountville got the second out of the inning, Young ended it with an RBI single to left field on a 2-2 count.
"I was a little scared at first, but I thought to myself, ‘I can just end this right here,’ because I thought we should have ended it before," Young said. "I got in the box, I got situated and then I just calmed down."
His reaction when he saw the ball go into left field?
"It was awesome," Young said. "I started jumping on my way to first."
Those feelings were certainly shared by his teammates and coaches as they piled on one another celebrating the win.
"This lineup is relentless. It’s relentless," Martin said. "We keep preaching to keep the foot on the gas pedal, go, go, go, apply the pressure and they buy in. That’s what the key thing is. You set some goals up for 12 years olds and they will run through a brick wall for you. If they believe in you, if they believe in the team effort, they’ll do it."
More PHILLIES, page B-2