Warriors wrap up Section One title
When Warwick left the field last Friday after defeating McCaskey 6-3, everything was set up nicely heading into Monday’s action.
With a win over Hempfield, the Warriors would capture their first Section One crown since 2009.
Over the weekend, however, things changed.
Hempfield defeated second-place Penn Manor 11-1 on Saturday, giving the Warriors a three-game lead with just two left to play.
Without even being on the field, Warwick clinched the Section crown for the first time in five years.
“It would’ve been nice for the kids (to win it on the field) because there’s that moment where you realize that we just won a Section title,” said Warwick coach Bob Locker, who got the news while having dinner with his wife on Saturday night. “It was cool, but it’s a moment you would like to share with your staff, your players and everybody involved. It doesn’t change the fact that we won a Section crown and that’s permanent. Down the road, when they get older and they don’t play baseball anymore, they will always know that they were Section champs this year.”
Even with the Section One title decided, the runner-up spot was still up for grabs and the Black Knights took a big step toward claiming it with a 5-3 victory Monday over the Warriors in Landisville.
Hempfield snapped a 1-1 tie with two-run rallies in the second and third innings. Although Warwick had its chances &tstr; they had base runners in every inning but one off of Black Knight pitchers Alec Miller, Mike Hernandez and Derek Manning &tstr; it wasn’t meant to be.
“We left an awful lot of base runners in scoring position,” Locker said. “I don’t think (Hempfield) particularly outplayed us. They had some timely hits early on … I don’t think we played a horrible game. We just didn’t do some things we needed to do.”
Going into Tuesday’s regular-season finale at Manheim Township, the Warriors fell to 11-4 in L-L play (12-6 overall), while Hempfield improved to 10-6 L-L, tied with Penn Manor. The L-L playoff quarterfinals will be held this Saturday at Ephrata.
Sophomore pitcher Thomas Elliot did his part this spring in helping Warwick win the Section title, and he was on the hill looking to improve to 4-0.
His teammates gave him a 1-0 lead in the first off of Miller, as battery-mate Ian Hart had a swinging bunt single, Ben Keyser shot a base hit back through the box and then Travis Reapsome’s RBI single plated courtesy runner Luke Hackman. Miller then pitched out of a first-and-third pickle with back-to-back K’s.
“The first inning, man, we’ve got to plate more than one,” Locker said. “It’s as simple as that &tstr; 2-0 is a lot bigger than 1-0. We had other chances and we didn’t get timely hitting.”
Hernandez’s (2-for-4) two-out RBI single drove in Grant Oberholtzer (2-for-4) with the tying run for Hempfield in the bottom of the first, and then the Knight capitalized on leadoff base runners in the next two innings.
Perhaps benefiting from an inconsistent strike zone, Tim Gailor and Jon Peterson worked back-to-back free passes from Elliot in the second. Later, Ben Lukawski and Chase Gilbert delivered RBI singles to give the Knights a lead they never lost.
Elliot, who K’d three while allowing seven hits and four walks in three innings, threw 56 total pitches in the second and third frames. Still leading 3-1 in the bottom of the third, the Knights tacked on with RBI base hits by Jon Peterson and Greg Gambler.
Relievers Drew Keller and Hackman kept the deficit where it was for the Warriors, who have rallied from behind more than once this season. In the top of the seventh, Reapsome walked, Seth Earle singled and both runners scored on Hackman’s two-run triple to deep center field, cutting the Knights’ lead to 5-3. Manning, though, shut the door to nail down Hempfield’s win.
“We were aware that they’ve been a hot baseball team lately,” Locker said. “They’re a good team, they’ve gotten better during the year, they have good pitching, they have good players. They just struggled a little bit early in the year.”
Last Friday, Reapsome, Earle and Perezous had RBI base hits, as the Warriors overcame a 3-0 deficit after three frames to defeat McCaskey 6-3 in a Section One game in Lancaster.
Reapsome K’d six and scattered three hits in the complete-game win, improving his record to 3-1.