LD, rain halt Warwick in Districts
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Warwick skipper Bob Locker had no doubt that his team still had a rally in them trailing by two runs in the sixth inning last Thursday night.
Especially with the middle of the Warriors’ batting order scheduled to hit in the bottom of the frame.
Unfortunately for the red and black, however, they never got the opportunity.
With 5th-seeded Lower Dauphin holding a 4-2 advantage on the 4th-seeded Warriors and batting in the top of the sixth in the District Three Quad-A playoff quarterfinals, the game was halted due to lightning. Later, when rains finally hit the Fredericksburg area, the game was deemed official and the Falcons advanced with a five-inning victory.
It wasn’t a popular decision with the Warriors, who finished their season with a 16-7 record.
"I guess I just kinda felt at that level, we should have been allowed to finish the game," Locker said. "I know (District Three’s) side of the argument is travel cost and expenses for umpires, but this is the quarterfinals of Districts. We should try to find a way to make it work."
LD (17-5-1) moved on to Tuesday’s District semi-finals, where they faced L-L League Cinderella team McCaskey, the number-16 seed in the tournament.
The Warriors were hoping to create some more magic of their own, coming off a 2012 season in which they finished just 6-14. The Section One runner-ups took a positive step in that direction in the bottom of the first, taking a 1-0 lead off of Falcons’ senior starter Marshal Kiessling. Ben Keyser roped a one-out double to left field and then scored when Tyler Morris slammed a first-pitch RBI double to left.
Meanwhile, Morris, making his second start of the season, pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first inning, and then he struck out the side in the second after yielding a leadoff base hit to DH Corey Atkins. Morris struck out seven, walked three and scattered five hits.
But the Falcons got the equalizer in the top of the third. With one out, Kaylor Kulina beat out an infield single to deep short and cleanup hitter Deon Stafford Jr. stroked a two-out double to left-center, putting runners at second and third. Kulina then scampered home on a wild pitch to make it 1-1, and Morris prevented further damage with an inning-ending strikeout, one of his seven K’s in the game.
Warwick threatened to regain the lead in the bottom of that frame after mounting a two-out rally. Keyser (2-for-2) got things started with a first-pitch single to left and then Morris (2-for-2) worked a 2-0 count against Kiessling. The Warriors’ three-hole hitter laced the next pitch to left-center for a double and Keyser tried to circle the bases. But Falcons’ shortstop Kulina got a relay from center fielder Jeff Light and made a strong throw to catcher Stafford Jr. at the plate to preserve the 1-1 tie.
"The center fielder had a really weak arm, but he did just enough," Locker said. "He got it to the shortstop (Kulina). The shortstop is a really good ball player. We were putting the pressure on them. If (Light’s throw) hops one more time, five feet less on the throw … so we were taking a risk, running on him. Maybe we were pressing a little bit to score another run. We believed it was going to be a tight game. We thought we could get him home."
Having survived that threat, Lower Dauphin took the lead in the top of the fourth after the Falcons sixth and seventh hitters, Atkins and Kyle Fails, worked leadoff walks. Light then bunted, and Morris fielded it and thought about throwing to third. When he threw to first, Light beat the play to load the bases.
Morris struck out nine-hole hitter Jason Shellenberger, but Jake Shellenberger followed with a sac fly to center field to make it 2-1.
In the top of the fifth, LD added two more runs on just one hit. After Kiessling led off the inning with a double to left-center, Stafford Jr. was walked intentionally. Blair Lewis bunted and Morris fielded the ball in front of the mound, turned right away and fired to third. But his throw was off the mark, and courtesy runner Drew Patterson and Stafford Jr. both scored when the ball rolled down the right field foul line. Morris avoided further trouble by getting the next two batters on a pop out and strikeout.
"We put too many people on base," Locker said. "You really can’t walk the bottom of the lineup (in the fourth), we turned things over and they executed some fundamental plays. We had bunt coverages and I think the first time we really should have gone to third, we didn’t. The second time was going to be a bang-bang play, but that’s just a kid trying to make a baseball play. I get it. It didn’t turn out, but I understood what was going through his head. He saw that he had a chance."
The Warriors felt like they still had a chance after getting a run back in the bottom of the fifth inning off of Kiessling, who struck out just one, allowed five hits and no walks. Seth Earle led off with a double to right-center, advanced to third on Kyle Maguire’s ground out and scored on Brady Weiler’s sac fly to left field, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 4-2.
"(Seth) can hit and he’s come a long way," Locker said.
It remained a 4-2 game as LD batted in the top of the sixth, with a runner on first base and no outs. That’s when a lightning storm put a halt to things, and nearly an hour later, the rain-shortened game was put in the books.
For the Warriors, they will never find out if they had some offensive lightning of their own in the final two innings. They had the middle of their order scheduled to bat in Keyser, Morris and Travis Reapsome in the bottom of the sixth inning.
"Absolutely (I liked our chances) because I knew we had the middle coming up," Locker said. "Morris had just broke (Kiessling) twice, Keyser was on him. I thought we could score two runs."
Reflecting on the season, although the season’s ending left a bad taste in their mouth, Locker was proud of his players.
"Games should be played on the fields," Locker said. "I really think it’s a horrible end to the season. I don’t think it’s fair to the seniors, I don’t think there was a kid in that bus who doubted that we were good enough to come back. People can say, ‘Well, that’s just wishful thinking.’ But I thought we’d come back. The end of the season is a pretty crappy taste in your mouth. But I told the kids, ‘When time goes by, you’ll look back and you’ll see what a great season you had and what a great job you did. We’ve come a long way from where we were a season ago. Sixteen wins is 16 wins. You did a lot of things well throughout the year.’ And I hope they look back and I know they’ll enjoy the time they spent with their teammates. That’s one thing that above all stood out all season. These kids are great teammates. It was just a real pleasant experience."
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