Phils’ hopes of repeat dashed by the Streaks

By on July 16, 2014

Warwick finishes second in New Era M-M Tournament

Warwick Phillies shortstop Zach Shertzer (left) attempts a swipe tag as Manheim Township base runner Evan Proulx slides into second base.

Warwick Phillies shortstop Zach Shertzer (left) attempts a swipe tag as Manheim Township base runner Evan Proulx slides into second base.

Leading 3-1 with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, the Warwick Phillies were threatening to pull away from Manheim Township.

Unfortunately, they managed just one run and the Streaks managed to stay within striking distance.

For the game, Warwick left nine runners on base.

Those missed opportunities loomed large when Township rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on its way to a 7-4 win, clinching the New Era Midget-Midget Tournament crown at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.

“Nine’s a big number,” Phillies skipper Todd Shertzer said. “It was just absolutely pivotal that we couldn’t get those across. That’s the situations where you’ve got to drive in those runs. You’ve got to pile on when you can to get that momentum on your side because you never know how the ebb and flows of the game are going to go.”

Entering Friday’s action, the Streaks (22-1) were in the driver’s seat as the lone unbeaten team, meaning Warwick was in a must-win situation to force a winner-take-all game on Monday. Ace John Seibert was on the hill and all hands were on deck, except Collin Beech and Brody Price, who pitched two nights earlier in a 19-6 win over SWS in an elimination game.

It wasn’t meant to be, however.

“We had nothing to lose,” Shertzer said. “You never want to guess that you’re going to have that extra opportunity, so you have to go after it and get what you get and then you go from there. We were kinda banking that John would take us as far as he could take us and then go with Kaden (Hunt) and Colin Brubaker, mix in what we could and then go back with Collin probably on Monday and see where we could go. That was the plan going in. We got almost there and then just fell a little short.”

The plan seemed to be in good shape when the Phillies put three runs on the board against MT starter Colin Fitzgerald, who struck out five and allowed three runs on five in three innings while earning the win. Price reached on a strikeout-wild pitch, Brubaker laced an RBI double to center, Trey Glass followed with an RBI single and Zach Shertzer (2-for-2) stroked a run-scoring double inside the right field foul line to make it 3-0.

The Streaks got one back in the home half after putting two runners into scoring position with one out. Kyle Donton’s ground out drove in Evan Clark, but third baseman Hunt’s tremendous diving stop in the hole saved a run.

“That’s a great baseball play. We battled hard,” said Shertzer, who also commended first baseman Beech for an over-the-fence catch in foul territory. “For 12U kids, any time you watch two teams play at the level that they played tonight, that’s pretty impressive some of the stuff they can do up and down the lineup.”

That set the stage for the fourth inning, when MT lefty reliever Nick Kurtz found himself in a pickle. With one out, Shertzer worked a six-pitch walk, Seibert singled to left and Beech walked. Ethan Minnich’s sac fly drove in Shertzer, but that’s all the Phillies could get.

From there, Collin Arms (2-for-3) set the tone for Township in the bottom of the fourth, smacking a first-pitch leadoff homer to left-center to cut the gap to 4-2.

“That was big for them because we were pretty handily covering the game at that point and it was just a little chink the armor of John,” Shertzer said. “They were sitting fastball and we thought we would challenge them a little bit and (Arms) went after it.”

Fitzgerald then walked, Donton doubled to left-center and Drew Sassaman hit an RBI ground out to short. After Evan Proulx walked, Kurtz fell into an 0-2 count and then stroked a two-run single to left on the next pitch. Kurtz later scored on a wild pitch to push the Streaks’ lead to 6-4.

Shertzer said the 0-2 pitch to Kurtz should have been located outside, but it caught too much of the plate.

“That was really a pivotal part of the game,” Shertzer recalled. “(Township) scored two runs and that was kinda the backbreaker knowing you had to get (two) back instead of one. That’s a big deal with two outs, so that was a pivotal play.”

Seibert finished with 89 pitches in four innings, giving up six runs on five hits, with three K’s and four walks in the loss.

The Streaks scored their final run in the fifth as Fitzgerald flared an RBI single to shallow right field.

The Phillies, looking to repeat for the first time in their history, managed only one base runner over the final two innings &tstr; a one-out walk to Shertzer in the sixth. MT center fielder Clark saved some trouble for Kurtz with a nice running catch in right-center to rob Hunt of extra bases.

Shertzer credited Township’s pitching for the Streaks 3-0 record against Warwick this season.

“I think they were the one team that could throw guys out there that could just keep our batters off balance,” he said. “They had a nice steady pitching staff and they played a tremendous defensive game.”

Putting things in perspective, Shertzer was proud of his players, who finished with a 40-8 record.

“It was a fantastic season. Warwick baseball right now is in a really good place,” he said. “The depth of talent that we have in Lititz right now in our program and the way the program is being run is just tremendous. We have no ill regrets from the season. Would we have liked to be the first program to go back-to-back like that? Certainly. But we battled hard, we had a great season, and the kids played their hearts out.”

Last Wednesday, July 9, Shertzer went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and six RBI’s as Warwick kept its hopes alive with a 19-6 five-inning thrashing of the SWS Cardinals at Kunkle Field.

Leading 2-1 after one, the Phillies erupted in the bottom of the second inning, reaching SWS pitchers Taso Kovack and Dylan Reading for 11 runs to break it open.

Beech was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Glass, Minnich, Logan Hann and Hunt added two hits apiece in the onslaught. Brubaker started and pitched two innings for the win, and then Price and Cam Hess finished up in relief.

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451.

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