Manheim VFW prevails over Warwick in league semi-finals
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
In more ways than one, Manheim VFW first baseman Mason Nissley was a thorn in the side of the Warwick Cardinals on Monday night.
First, Nissley delivered a bases-loaded two-run single which highlighted Manheim’s three-run rally in the bottom of the fourth.
Then with the Cardinals rallying in the fifth inning, his diving snag of a sharp line drive off the bat of Warwick’s Ethan Heller helped to preserve the Manheim VFW’s lead.
That was one of several nice Manheim web gems behind pitchers Drew Mummau and Evan Hosler, as they frustrated the Cardinals en route to an 8-5 victory in the Lanco Youth Baseball 10-U playoff semi-finals at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.
"Our defense was spectacular tonight, it really was," Manheim VFW skipper Jeff Mummau said. "We got lucky on a couple of balls. We know we’re not the best hitting team out there, so we have to play small ball and we have to pitch and we have to play defense. That’s what we did tonight."
While Manheim (18-7-1) advanced to Wednesday’s championship game against Mountville, an 18-1 winner over Manheim Township, Warwick ended its season with an 18-11-1 record.
"We came around, definitely," Cards’ skipper Todd Rhoads said. "The last four or five games, we really came together as a team. We started hitting the ball. We hit the ball all year, but the last four games it seemed like it really started to come together."
They hit the ball in the first inning on Monday night, as Caleb Heck muscled a base hit over second base, Jeffrey Kline slapped an opposite-field single to left, and a double steal moved both runners into scoring position.
But Mummau wriggled out of trouble with a strikeout and a ground out to keep it scoreless.
Cardinals’ starter Colby Martin also escaped a first-inning jam, stranding Garrett Bruckhart at third with back-to-back K’s.
It remained scoreless until Warwick strung together three straight two-out base hits in the top of the second. Brendan Martin and Brock Fassnacht (2-for-2) legged out infield hits and Dagen Young (2-for-2) stroked an RBI single to left.
But the Cards’ lead was short-lived, as Manheim capitalized on three hits, three walks, a hit batsman and a Warwick error to score four in its half of the second inning.
"We’re on our kids about making contact — we struck out a lot earlier in the year and the strikeouts have really come down and we’ve made more contact," Mummau said. "We’re making (opponents) make the plays and that’s how we’ve improved."
After Nissley led off the second with a single to left, Camryn Eberly was hit by a pitch. Next, Josh Painter dropped a nice bunt single and Nissley scored on a throwing error past first. Brady Carper’s walk loaded the bases, and one out later, Hosler’s free pass forced in a run and Bruckhart delivered an RBI single. Jake Harbach’s bases-loaded walk forced in Manheim’s final run of the inning to make it 4-1.
Meanwhile, Manheim reliever Hosler retired seven of eight batters in the middle innings to keep the Cardinals at bay. Bruckhart helped their cause with a nice catch in right, and he also scored ahead of Mummau on Nissley’s two-run single up the middle in the fourth. And later, when Hunter Hess worked a six-pitch bases-loaded walk, Manheim led 8-1 and seemingly had a stranglehold on the game.
But Warwick didn’t go away, and it rallied for three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth inning. Fassnacht’s RBI single to right drove in Max Bright, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Then Young stroked an RBI single to left and Adam Ricketts flared a run-scoring triple to right to make it 8-4.
"I’m proud of the way these guys hit — they’re aggressive, they get up there and take their cuts," Rhoads said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But Manheim’s a good team. They made a lot of defensive plays."
One of those, of course, was Nissley’s diving grab which ended the inning.
The Cards got one more in the sixth on Kline’s two-out RBI single to right-center, but Manheim held on.
"Warwick’s a tough-hitting team — give them a lot of credit for not quitting," Mummau said. "(They have) a lot of talent over there … They won our tournament and we won their tournament, so I thought it was a coin toss coming out here tonight." More LEAGUE SEMIS, page B-6