Phillies suffer first loss in the New Era Tourney

By on July 11, 2012

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo by Preston Whitcraft
Warwick Phillies' base runner Justin Byler (right) slides around Donegal catcher Connor Updegraff for a fourth-inning run in his team's 7-4 win in opening-round action on Monday night.

Midway through the Warwick Phillies’ game on Tuesday night, some leftover fireworks from the Fourth of July exploded beyond the right field wall at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, they weren’t quite able to generate any fireworks of their own at the plate while facing a tough pitcher in Mountville’s Logan Givler.

Keeping Warwick off-balance by throwing his curve ball for strikes, Givler allowed just one hit through five innings, leading the Indians to an 8-0 shutout in a winner’s bracket game of the 68th New Era Tournament’s Midget-Midget series.

"We said in (the post-game huddle), ‘For as explosive as we were last night (in a 7-4 win over Donegal), this guy had our number,’" Warwick Phillies’ skipper Dana Clark said. "Hat’s off to him. Absolutely."

The loss sent Warwick (17-15) into an elimination game against the Manheim VFW last night (Wednesday) back at Kunkle Field. In two earlier meetings this summer, the Phils dropped a pair of two-run losses, so Warwick was hoping the third time was the charm.

"I expect them to respond well," Clark said. "They’ve worked really hard, they’ve been playing really well right now … It was two runs both times in two close losses (to Manheim), so they have a personal vendetta just to get Manheim from league play as well."

Mountville (31-9) advanced with a close 8-7 win over Manheim on Monday, and they picked up where they left off in the first inning. Givler (2-for-3) helped his own cause by ripping a deep three-run single to right-center following a couple of walks and a hit batter. Givler then scored to put the Indians up 4-0 on Christian Shepperson’s Texas League RBI double to right field.

Meanwhile, Givler shut the door on the Phils’ offense from the outset, retiring the first five batters he faced — with four of his seven K’s — before Justin Byler stroked a two-out double to left-center in the second inning and advanced to second on an error. But Givler got out of the jam with an inning-ending strikeout.

"We were so geared up from Houser last night and his speed and it just took us a long time to adjust," Clark said. "And like I said, he did a heck of a job continuing throughout the game to keep us off-balance."

The Phillies’ best chance to score came in the third, as Nate Hess stung a hot grounder which skipped through Mountville shortstop Ryan Moffatt for an error and then past left fielder Nick Bair for a two-base error, sending him to third base with two outs. But Givler then coaxed a ground out to get out of it.

Gabe Cicala started and suffered the loss for the Phils, and Ryan Aukamp and Nick Breznak finished up in relief, keeping it close until Mountville added one in fourth and two in the fifth to pull away.

"I told those guys, ‘The pitching did a decent job, it kept us in the game.’ But one thing about baseball — you can’t win if you don’t score any," Clark said. "I said, ‘We’ve got to hit the ball.’"

In opening-round action on Monday, the Phillies committed seven errors — all in the first three innings — but survived, as pitcher Nate Hess tossed a complete-game gem while leading Warwick to a 7-4 victory over Donegal at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.

With the score tied 4-4 through four innings, the Phils took the lead for good with a three-run rally in the top of the fifth and Hess retired 10 of the final 11 batters that he faced to preserve the win. He finished with 105 pitches.

"(Nate) pitched well against Salsa (in the qualifying series), but I think he pitched even better here tonight," Clark said. "His pitch count per inning got less as the game went on, so he just got stronger and stronger. Fantastic effort. I gave him the game ball afterward and said, ‘This guy really kept us in it.’"

Donegal (31-8) had only three hits in the first three innings, but took leads of 2-1 and 4-2 while capitalizing on the Phils’ miscues.

Gabe Cicala and Brandon Perezous had RBI doubles in the first two innings for Warwick. Then in the fourth off of Donegal losing pitcher, Justin Byler stroked a leadoff double and Bryan Rottkamp added an RBI single and later scored on an error, as the Phillies pulled even 4-4. Cicala was 3-for-4 to lead Warwick’s 10-hit attack, while Byler and Rottkamp each chipped in with two hits.

"I (told the guys), ‘It’s 12U, errors are going to happen. What you guys have to do is make sure it’s the next play. Don’t get frazzled, stay in your game,’" Clark said. "And they did. They didn’t let it get away from them tonight."

Cicala was in the middle of things again in their game-winning rally in the fifth, leading off with a double. After Carter Forney walked, Justin Minnich and Byler delivered back-to-back RBI singles, and Perezous’ RBI single drove in Byler to make the score 7-4.

"I thought, honestly, it was the best they had played all year," Clark said. "They had hits up and down the lineup against quality pitching. Nothing against Donegal — they’ve got good quality pitching and I thought they came to play tonight."

Hess took care of the rest, as he yielded only one earned run on four hits, while striking out nine and walking just one. More PHILLIES, page B-4

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