Cardinals clinch 10U title

By on July 9, 2014
Warwick Cardinals base runner Kyle Zimmerman advances to third base ahead of a throw from Manheim Township’s first baseman. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Warwick Cardinals base runner Kyle Zimmerman advances to third base ahead of a throw from Manheim Township’s first baseman. (Photo by Mike Shull)

The Lancaster County Youth Baseball League’s Section One 10U team from Manheim Township lost only three games all season, going 19-3 overall. All three losses, including two in the post-season, came at the hands of the Warwick Cardinals. The Cards captured the league championship hardware last Wednesday, July 2 with a 10-5 win over the Blue Streaks at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy.

Starting 40 minutes late due to a passing thunderstorm, the Cardinals got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second when Kyle “Moose” Zimmerman reached on a throwing error. Two ground outs to Township third baseman Ryan Flury moved Zimmerman to third, and then Brady “Wiggs” Wiggins followed with an RBI single.

The Streaks came from behind in the bottom of the third when first baseman Fisher Druck blasted a three-run homer to deep center field, putting Manheim Township in front 3-1.

When two teams are playing each other for the fourth time, do you make any changes, or go with what got you there?

“We really do not make many changes,” Cardinals skipper Colin Cossette said. “We know their good hitters, and we want to use our best pitcher against their best.”

And he did.

Matthew “Big Papi” Williams started on the hill against Township for the fourth time this season. Streaks manager Todd Heckman described one change they would have to make to overcome Warwick, saying, “We have to attack the ball more on offense than we did last Friday night (in a 10-0 loss to the Cardinals).”

The Streaks made that change as well, scoring five runs on 10 hits. In the previous game, they managed just two hits and no runs.

The fourth inning didn’t start well for the Cards, as Williams popped out to pitcher Chris Hixson in foul territory. Zimmerman then flied to center field, but the ball was dropped and he ended up at second. A walk and a ground out resulted in first and third with two outs and no runs scored. Then the clutch hits began to produce runs.

Wiggins drove in two to tie the game. Seth “Laser” Adomnik singled in another, followed by a two-run hit off the bat of Tate “Speedy” Landis. A walk, drawn by Scooter Martin and a “seeing eye” base hit to the right side by catcher Reagen “Regs” Kline completed the decisive five-run inning.

Pitching strategy was in the back of both coaches’ minds going into the game. Warwick had a clean slate, with no losses, having beaten Cocalico, plus Hempfield and Township in their run through the winner’s bracket. Meanwhile, the Streaks’ only blemish in the double-elimination playoff was to the Cardinals, having beaten Solanco, Ephrata and Cocalico on their way to the championship game. For Township to win the tournament, they would have to beat Warwick twice on the same night.

The Lancaster County Youth Baseball rules list a maximum of 75 pitches on any single day for these young pitchers. There is also rest or day-off requirements, depending on how many pitches were thrown in the previous game. It was fairly simple for Township’s Hecker.

“We have to win the one in front of us (first game) before we can worry about having enough pitching for the second,” he said.

The Streaks used four different pitchers over six innings. Cardinal boss Cossette had a more fluid plan, when asked if he was all-in for the first game.

“Yes and no,” he said. “That strategy has worked for us so far in the playoffs, but the outcome of each inning in the first game will affect our strategy for the second.”

As it turned out, Warwick used only two pitchers, as Landis relieved Williams with one out in the fifth.

The Cardinals stretched the lead to 10-3, plating two each in the fifth and sixth innings. Zimmerman, Chance “Hoover” Montgomery and Landis all singled in the fifth, with Landis driving in two runs with two outs. Kline had another hit that made it through the infield by inches to lead off the sixth. Zimmerman singled and Montgomery hit a long sacrifice fly to complete the Warwick scoring. Eight of the 10 Cardinals runs were scored with two outs, a measure of how clutch this team was.

Township made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth. After a fly to left for out number one, the next two Streaks reached base on a walk and a hit batter. Landis recorded a strike out for out number two, and then things got a little dicey. With the end in sight, the Cardinals committed three consecutive errors, a rarity for this club, and the lead shrank to 10-5. Finally, a sharp ground ball up the middle was corralled by second baseman Scooter Martin, who stepped on the bag to seal the victory.

After the game, Heckman told his Blue Streaks’ players, “I don’t want to see any heads hanging. You had a great season, battling and playing hard all season. I’m proud of you guys.”

Township had its share of rewards to collect in a ceremony in the infield, including team trophies for regular season division champs and playoff runner-up. The Streaks also took home individual trophies for playoff runner-ups and regular-season division winners.

Cossette has been talking with his players about two main themes over the last three playoff wins &tstr; patience and team effort.

“This game was more frustrating. (Township pitcher Chris Hixson) had us a little baffled. I told our guys not to quit. (Capitalizing on team effort) is the mark of a good team. This group really trusts and likes one another.”

For the third straight playoff game, at least five Cardinals contributed RBI’s and at least five scored runs for the Warwick cause.

For their efforts, they posed with the big team playoff champions trophy, plus individual trophies and plaques. They were applauded by players from four other Lititz/Warwick teams and their parents, many snapping pictures of the champs. Throughout the championship game and several playoff games before, the entire Lititz community was there for their 9-10 year olds. For the second consecutive game, the Cardinals had a good luck charm on their side. The winner’s bracket final was played on coach Cossette’s birthday and they celebrated with cake. The championship game was played on Cooper “Bruiser” Eckert’s birthday and they celebrated with trophies.

Druck and Brady Yohe led the Township offense with two hits each, while Warwick’s team effort was fronted by Landis, Kline, Zimmerman and Wiggins with two hits apiece. Six Cardinals had RBI’s while seven scored runs in the championship game.

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