Comets outduel Warwick in Section One showdown

By on April 6, 2016

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Warriors blank MC in back-yard rivalry

Warwick pitcher Zach Peters, in the words of his coach Bob Locker, was a bulldog.

In a showdown of Section One contenders on Tuesday afternoon, the Warrior junior threw 28 first-inning pitches and yielded two runs to Penn Manor.

That was all he allowed.

But on this day, his opponent was Penn State recruit Jeff Taylor, who was just a little bit better.

The Comets’ ace struck out 12 and yielded just one run, leading Penn Manor in an early-season 2-1 Section One win over the Warriors in Millersville. While PM improved to 4-0 overall (1-0 L-L), Warwick suffered its first loss and fell to 3-1, 0-1.

“I thought it was a really outstanding high school baseball game,” Locker remarked. “It’s nicer when you win, but for somebody who watching the game, you had to come away thinking you just watched two good baseball teams play an excellent game.”

Although Taylor surrendered four walks, he gave up just two hits in the game. Locker, though, was pleased with his team’s at-bats.

“Even in the strikeouts, our kids did a good job,” he said. “We fouled a lot of pitches off, we made him throw a lot of pitches. It’s just that (Taylor)’s an outstanding high school pitcher. He had his breaking ball working, he kinda kept us off-balance, he hit his spots very, very well.”

Peters, meanwhile, was a force on the hill for the Warriors. In the complete-game loss, he K’d just one, but allowed just two runs while scattering four hits and walking three.

The junior right-hander probably didn’t have his best stuff in the opening frame, when the Comets scored both of their runs. But Peters settled in nicely, combining to throw just 28 pitches over the next three innings while being supported by a solid defense which committed no errors.

“I’ve got to tip my hat to Zach Peters,” Locker said. “He had a little trouble hitting the exact spots (in the first inning), but then after that, he shut them down. He threw a tremendous game and got stronger as the game went.”

The Warriors had base runners in the early innings, but couldn’t capitalize. Finally, in the top of the third, Matt Cover reached on an error and later scored on Tyler Martin’s RBI base hit.

Later in the frame, Warwick had runners at second and third with one out, but Taylor wriggled out of further trouble.

“We had an opportunity there,” Locker recalled. “We just didn’t capitalize on it.”

Taylor then K’d the side in the fifth and whiffed two more in another perfect inning in the sixth.

“I give him credit — he got stronger as the game went on,” Locker said.

Still, the Warriors had the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base in the top of the seventh, but couldn’t push them across the plate.

Fortunately for the Warriors, they didn’t have long to wait before getting back on the field, as they traveled to face Cedar Crest yesterday (Wednesday). They will host cross-town rival Manheim Township on Friday.

“You never like to lose baseball games,” Locker said, “but we had no errors, we played an excellent defensive game. Like I said earlier, Zach, after the first inning, threw a great game. We had some really good at-bats against a kid who is likely as good as we’re going to see in the L-L League. We weren’t happy to lose, but it’s not like we walked away thinking, ‘Geez, we’ve got an awful lot to fix.’ We did a lot of positive things and we’ll try to shake it off by the time we hit the field (Wednesday). That’s one of the good things about baseball sometimes is you don’t have a lot of time to dwell on things. I’m sure the kids are going to come ready to go tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

*****

Last Friday, Warwick won its third straight game to open the season, getting two hits apiece from Luke Mariano and Tim Griest, along with a key three-run double by Tyler Martin, in a 10-0 shutout of back-yard rival Manheim Central.

Baron starting pitcher Chad Neely had a perfect game for 4 1/3 innings, retiring the first 13 batters he faced. But Griest’s one-out double to left-center in the top of the fifth ignited a six-run rally for the Warriors.

“We had to believe we were going to hit,” Locker said. “Coming off of last year with what we have back, one of our strengths should be the ability to hit … We’ve got to get off to better starts, but yeah, I thought we’d hit.”

Neely and WHS starter Matt Cover were locked up in a pitchers duel early on. Cover set down the Barons’ first seven batters, and then in the bottom of the third, Taylor Rohrer singled to right and Jake Novak legged out a bunt base hit. But Warwick escaped trouble on a Mariano-to-Martin-to-Griest inning-ending double play.

Central was in business again in the fourth when Tyler Lyons led off with a single to right-center and Kevin Starner (2-for-3) doubled to left, putting runners at second and third with no outs. But Warrior third baseman Zach Peters fielded a hot shot from catcher Tyler Lutz, and Warwick turned an unconventional DP, catching both base runners in two separate pickles.

“They were inning killers,” MC skipper Matt Huber said, “and in a rivalry game like that, it just shifts momentum a little bit, gives the other team life, and even though you know the game’s not over, it just deflates you a little bit.”

After Griest spoiled Neely’s perfect game, courtesy runner Tyler Hess scored the game’s first run on Peters’ RBI single to right-center. Justin Byler followed with a Texas League single to center, Cover reached on an error, and Nate Hess’ RBI single chased Neely. Mariano then greeted reliever Nathan Loser with an RBI single to center, and Martin’s bases-clearing double to left-center broke it open, 6-0.

“It was good to see (Tyler) rope one,” Locker remarked. “Hitting is contagious. We got a couple hits there, and all of a sudden, everybody is swinging a little bit better with a little more confidence and more enthusiasm.”

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Central threatened off of reliever Ethan Norman, putting runners at second and third, but couldn’t cash in.

“Our statistician told me after the game that (Warwick) had nine hits, we had seven hits, and I was like, ‘Wow,’” Huber said. “Then you look at some of the hard-hit outs we had, and it’s hard to have nothing to show for it when we put the ball in play. Credit Warwick for their defense.”

Warwick added two more runs in the sixth on Norman’s RBI double and Mariano’s run-scoring base hit to left, and then Jake Weachter’s bases-loaded walk and Norman’s sac fly in the seventh completed the scoring.

Cover got the win, scattering four hits with one K over four scoreless innings, and then Norman and Thomas Elliott combined on the seven-hit shutout.

Neely, one of four pitchers used by the Barons, suffered the loss, surrendering five runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings. Loser, Trevor Hosler, and Isaac Eldeen pitched in relief.

Last Wednesday, Martin was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI’s, while Cover, Griest and Justin Smith all had two hits, each with a double, in a 5-2 non-league win over Conrad Weiser.

Griest made his first start and pitched five innings for the win, with four K’s and two walks. Elliott pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the save.

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