Back in the L-L playoffs

By on May 10, 2017
Warwick sophomore Brendan Martin connects for a bases-loaded RBI single in the fourth inning, driving in Evan Clark with the go-ahead run in the Warriors’ 5-1 victory over Hempfield on Tuesday. Photo by Dick Wanner

Warwick sophomore Brendan Martin connects for a bases-loaded RBI single in the fourth inning, driving in Evan Clark with the go-ahead run in the Warriors’ 5-1 victory over Hempfield on Tuesday. Photo by Dick Wanner

Warriors top Hempfield to clinch first berth since 2014

Bryce Zimmerman has found a home at the top of the batting order for the Warwick baseball team.

“I really enjoy leading off,” the Warrior junior shortstop remarked. “I just like to be the first one out there and set the tone for the game.”

He did exactly that on Tuesday afternoon.

Reaching base three times in his four at-bats, Zimmerman was in the middle of the Warriors’ offensive attack against Hempfield with a berth in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs at stake.

And thanks to a three-run rally in the bottom of the fourth, in which Zimmerman and Dagen Young were hit by pitches with the bases loaded to force in runs, Warwick snapped a 1-1 tie and went on to beat the Black Knights 5-1 in Lititz, clinching the second and final L-L playoff spot in Section One.

For the Warriors (10-6 L-L, 12-6 overall), it’s their first trip to the L-L’s since the 2014 season.

“I’m really glad for the kids,” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “We’re coming off three losses in a row. The last two (vs. Township and McCaskey), we haven’t been ourselves, so it was good to see our kids go out and play a solid game today.”

That skid dropped Warwick into a three-way tie with Hempfield and Manheim Township for second place entering play on Tuesday afternoon.

Fortunately for the Warriors, however, they had their ace Zach Peters (7-0, 0.60 ERA) on the hill to face the Black Knights.

“It definitely makes your day a lot better seeing him out there,” Zimmerman smiled.

Peters suffered a scary moment when he took a hard-hit ball from Cole Houser off his leg in the third inning, but he pitched five-plus innings, striking out four, walking three and yielding just one run on five hits while throwing 99 pitches.

“Once he got hit, (Zach) was having a hard time pitching. He gutted it out and I give him a lot of credit for that,” Locker said. “He was in a lot of pain, but he’s just a tough kid.”

Earlier, Zimmerman (2-for-3) led off against Hempfield starter Justin Lichtenwalner in the bottom of the first with a double to left and scored on Dagen Young’s RBI two-bagger to make it 1-0.

“I haven’t been (seeing the ball well) the past couple of games, but now I’m starting to break out of it,” Zimmerman said.

Houser’s shot off of Peters in the third resulted in an RBI single, driving in Alec Santiago to tie it 1-all.

It remained that way until the fourth, when Justin Byler (2-for-3) and Evan Clark led off with back-to-back singles to put the Warriors in business.

“I felt we hit the ball a little bit better today,” Locker said. “Byler’s been swinging a good bat lately and Clark’s coming around.”

Following Peters’ fielder’s choice, Tyler Hess dropped a perfect bunt single to load the bases. Brendan Martin stroked an 0-1 pitch from Lichtenwalner for an RBI single, putting Warwick up 2-1, and then one out later, Zimmerman and Young were plunked to make it 4-1.

“We caught a break,” Locker said. “The two hit batters, you don’t see that very often. He just lost control a little bit and we had a couple timely things go our way finally.”

In the fifth, Byler singled on a high chopper over the mound against Black Knight reliever Houser and then Peters muscled a one-out Texas League single into right-center. Following a wild pitch, Byler scored on a Hempfield throwing error to extend the lead to 5-1.

It was enough for Warwick, who got two innings of no-hit relief from Young to nail down the win.

And with it, a berth in the L-L playoffs.

“Definitely a relief,” Zimmerman said, “and very happy because we had a three-game losing streak coming into this and we’re very lucky to pull it out.”

*****

On Monday, the Warriors suffered their third loss in a row, dropping a 10-4 decision to McCaskey in Lancaster.

The Red Tornado rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit, putting eight runs on the board in the third to open up a lead. Ethan Norman started and took the loss for Warwick. Zimmerman was 2-for-3 and Byler had a pair of RBIs in the losing cause.

*****

Last Wednesday, May 3, Manheim Township came back from a 4-0 first-inning deficit to beat the Warriors 6-4 in a Section One game in Neffsville.

Ryan Barbee scattered five hits in six innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Brendan Martin started and took the loss for Warwick.

Evan Clark was 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the Warriors, who scored all four of their runs in the first inning off of MT starter Ben DeMarco.

The Streaks answered with two in the home half of the first first, then scored two more in the second and two in the third to take a lead they never lost.

Rece Bender was 3-for-4 with a run scored, Ethan Kline went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Hunter McClintock helped out with two RBIs to lead the Blue Streaks’ offense.

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