SOX ousted by E-town in New Era series
If the Warwick SOX had any hope of getting back into its game in the New Era Junior-Midget Tournament qualifying-round series, they first had to hold Elizabethtown Navy off the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning.
Instead, when the two teams returned to the Warwick Township building complex on Tuesday for the completion of a suspended game, E-town tacked onto its lead of 9-4 with three more runs.
It turned out to be too big of a hill for the SOX to climb, as their season ended with a 15-4 five-inning loss. Combined with E-town’s 4-1 victory last Friday, they won the best-of-three series two games to none to advance to the tournament’s final four.
The SOX (40-11-1) grabbed a quick 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Monday night with an eye toward pulling even in the series, but amid a steady rainfall, E-town (16-6) took the wind out of their sails with four tying runs in the second and five in the top of the third to go in front to stay.
“I would say (Monday) night, I think the weather had something to do with it,” Warwick coach Eric Martin said, “especially in the top of the third when things started getting away from us. I think our pitchers were struggling a little bit with the weather. But I’m not going to take anything away from E-town. They’re a solid club. I think they’ve won 10 or 11 in a row in league play. Offensively up and down the lineup, they put the ball in play.”
The SOX put the ball in play in their first at-bats against E-town lefty starter Hunter Spigelmeyer. Kyle Gibble (2-for-3) singled to center, Brendan Martin walked and Adam Ricketts reached on an error. With one out, Ethan Heller (2-for-2) stroked a two-run double to left-center, Brock Fassnacht had an RBI ground out and Jeffrey Kline delivered an RBI single.
But the first six batters reached base off of SOX starter Martin in the top of the second, and Zack McNitt (3-for-4, 4 RBI’s) hit a two-run single to highlight the rally.
Overall, Martin threw 36 pitches as E-town sent 10 men to the plate while tying the score 4-all.
In the third, Larry Locker delivered a two-run double off of reliever Fassnacht, helping E-town put five more runs on the board to go up 9-4.
Singles by Ricketts and Heller, followed by a double steal, put runners at second and third for the SOX in the bottom of the third, but Stigelmeyer pitched out of it, and the game was suspended due to rain at that point.
“I think they just started getting anxious at the plate,” Martin said. “They started not working counts. Especially with the weather last night, we should’ve gone a little deeper with counts.”
When they returned to the field on Tuesday, the SOX were dealt a blow when E-town added three runs, extending their lead to 12-4. For the game, E-town had 13 hits and capitalized on 11 walks off of three Warwick pitchers.
“The primary focus tonight was, ‘Come in and we have to shut them down defensively,’” Martin said. “We have to give up no more runs, being down five already, and we’ll start something up offensively. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
Trailing 15-4 in their final at-bats, the SOX got back-to-back two-out walks from Nick Breznak and Heller, but E-town reliever Ryan Rupp got the next batter to end the game.
“We keep saying, this group is 13 (year olds) and we battled all year long against primarily 14 year olds in Section One,” Martin said. “They wanted to do it, they scrap. Coming in as the five seed in the playoffs, that’s something to be proud of. They just love to be on the ball field and play … I could not be happier with the effort these young guys give every single day. They love the game and have had an outstanding season. They knew playing 14U would be a challenge this year and they welcomed it head on.”