In a slugfest, Warriors tops the Mounts, 12-7

By on April 15, 2015

Keller homers and drives in four in the win

Warwick senior Drew Keller (11) receives congratulations from his teammates after slugging a two-run home run off of Ephrata pitcher Austin Lowery on Monday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Warwick senior Drew Keller (11) receives congratulations from his teammates after slugging a two-run home run off of Ephrata pitcher Austin Lowery on Monday. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Drew Keller was sitting fastball against Ephrata’s Austin Lowery.

The Warwick senior didn’t get that pitch.

But it didn’t matter.

Keller adjusted to a first-pitch curve from Lowery and smashed his first varsity home run, a two-run shot to left field in the second inning on Monday.

“I was just trying to get a hit and put the ball in play somewhere,” said Keller, who finished 3-for-4 with four RBI’s. “(Lowery) threw that one down the middle.”

After the Mounts had taken an early 2-0 lead on runs by Justin Carvell and Dillon Good, Warwick answered with a four-run rally in the bottom of the second, highlighted by Keller’s blast, and took a lead they never lost.

In the end, the Warriors connected for 21 hits off of three Ephrata pitchers and cruised to a 12-7 win in a Section One-Two crossover game in Lititz.

“We have kids who can hit top to bottom and that’s a luxury,” Warrior coach Bob Locker remarked. “It makes us kind of a dangerous baseball team. I don’t expect it to be that way every day, but if we have kids who can hit, it doesn’t have to be a handful of kids carrying us.”

Ephrata had a nice offensive day of its own, led by Good (4-for-4, 2 RBI’s) and Carvell (3-for-4, 2 RBI’s). But the Mountaineers stranded 11 runners, including the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

“I think that’s probably the difference,” Ephrata skipper Adrian Shelley said. “I think it was a hitter’s strike zone today and (Warwick) did a good job of getting runners on base to start innings. I thought we did the same thing. We did a good job starting innings, but they did a better job finishing.”

With the victory, the Warriors improved to 5-2 in Section One (7-2 overall) and remained one game behind Hempfield and Penn Manor, both at 6-1. Ephrata, meanwhile, fell to 4-3 in Section Two (6-3 overall) and tied in second with Solanco, but stayed one game off the pace behind Garden Spot (5-2 L-L). The Spartans suffered a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Hempfield on Monday.

“We talk to the kids about winning every week,” Locker said. “If you play three games, make sure you go 2-1 at least. We got the first one &tstr; now we worry about Wednesday (at Solanco). Wednesday we’ll put (Thomas) Elliot on the mound, so we’ll see what we can do.”

The Mounts will try to bounce back with a game against Cedar Crest.

“We just have to take care of ourselves and not worry about what anybody else has done,” Shelley said. “We’ll see how things shake out when we get through the crossovers.”

Things were shaking out well early for the Mounts and their small-ball style of play. After Carvell doubled off of Warrior starter Tim Griest and scored on a Warwick error in the first, Good led off the second with a single to left, went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Patrick Gallagher’s sacrifice and scored on Andre Good’s sac fly.

Warwick, too, had its leadoff runner on board early and often, and they capitalized in the second. Grant Zimmerman (3-for-4) flared a single just beyond the reach of Ephrata shortstop Nate Fassnacht, Luke Mariano had a hit-and-run single, Justin Smith (2-for-3) delivered a sac fly, and one out later, Keller, batting No. 9, put the Warriors in front with his home run.

“I didn’t (know it was out right away),” Keller said. “Coach Locker was telling me to keep running and then once I rounded first, I knew it was gone.”

His three hits against Ephrata raised Keller’s average on the season to a hearty .500.

“Just staying level with my swing,” he said of his approach, “and not trying to hit anything for power, just trying to put the ball in play.”

With the wind blowing from right to left, the two teams combined for nine extra-base hits in the game, and back-to-back doubles by Tyler Martin (3-for-5) and Luke Hackman (2-for-5, 3 RBI’s) extended the Warriors’ lead to 4-2.

Griest, besides getting the ‘W,’ also had a three-hit day, as every player in the Warriors’ lineup had at least one base knock in the game.

“We have a good lineup and it’s pretty fun,” Keller said. “A lot of guys are hitting the ball well.”

Ephrata got one back in the third when Carvell singled to left and courtesy-runner Mike Caraballo scored on Dillon Good’s RBI base hit, halving the Warriors’ lead to 4-3.

“We have not hit the ball well up and down the lineup up until today,” Shelley said, “so I’m pleased with what we did. We didn’t want to get into a slugfest with them. I would have preferred to be in a pitching and defensive type of game. But in fairness to our pitchers, it didn’t really seem to matter which pitcher we threw. They still hit us hard.”

That continued in the bottom of the third, as the Warriors added three more runs on Mariano’s RBI ground out, Zach Peters’ RBI single to deep short and Keller’s RBI double to left, chasing Lowery, who left with trailing 7-3.

“They did a good job of preventing us from playing that (small-ball) game,” Shelley said. “We were trying to play that type of game, and after (Keller’s) homer and then the third inning when they packed some distance between us and them, it didn’t allow us to play that type of game.”

Still, Ephrata stayed within striking distance in the fourth. Brian Wentz singled, Fassnacht (2-for-4) doubled to center and Carvell hit a sac fly.

Griest went five innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits for the decision, striking out three and walking three. He helped his own cause with an RBI single to right-center in the bottom of the fourth to make it an 8-4 game.

Then Warwick broke it open with four in the fifth off of Ephrata reliever Matt McGillan. Keller had an RBI single to right-center, Hackman ripped a two-run triple to left-center and Elliot had an RBI single to left field.

Reliever Matt Cover, making his team-high seventh appearance, ran into trouble in the sixth, and the Mounts gained some life on Carvell’s run-scoring single to left, Brandon Schwark’s RBI ground out, and Dillon Good’s RBI double.

Hackman entered, though, and put out the fire, and then he retired the Mounts in order in the seventh on 17 pitches to nail down Warwick’s win.

Last Friday, Lampeter-Strasburg’s Cameron Enck pitched six innings for the win and slugged a home run to lead the Pioneers in an 11-4 crossover win over the Warriors in Lampeter.

Austin Pletcher also went yard for L-S, as they took a 6-0 lead through three innings against the Warriors, who committed six errors. Keller started and took the loss for Warwick.

In other action, Elliot got the ball against Hempfield last Thursday and tossed a complete-game four-hitter in the Warriors’ 9-4 victory over the Section-leading Black Knights.

Elliot, who held Hempfield scoreless over the final four frames, struck out six and walked four.

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