Mounts outlast the Warriors in L-L semi-finals

By on May 16, 2018
Warwick’s Jeffrey Kline runs down a fly ball in center field in Tuesday’s L-L playoff semi-final game against Ephrata. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Warwick’s Jeffrey Kline runs down a fly ball in center field in Tuesday’s L-L playoff semi-final game against Ephrata. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

It took more than four hours to complete.

But thanks to Nathan Young stealing a page from Luis Gonzalez — who won Game Seven of the 2001 World Series for the Arizona Diamondbacks — with a similar-looking base hit, Ephrata is headed back to the Lancaster-Lebanon League finals.

In an extra-inning barn-burner against Warwick, Young’s walk-off bases-loaded RBI single with one out over a drawn-in infield plated Andrew Thomas with the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth, lifting the Mounts to a 4-3 victory in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff semi-finals at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field.

The win sends the Section Two champion Mounts (19-3) to the L-L championship game against Lampeter-Strasburg, a 5-0 winner over Cedar Crest, on Thursday night back in Ephrata at 7 p.m. Warwick (13-8), meanwhile, got preparations underway for its District Three 6A first-round playoff game next Monday, May 21. They are ranked 6th in the District power ratings.

Tuesday’s marathon game — which featured a two-hour weather delay — was similar to the eight-inning affair on April 18 in which Warwick knocked off Ephrata 9-8 at War Memorial Field. That, incidentally, was also the last time the Mounts lost a game, having won 13 in a row since.

Junior Colby Martin picked up the win in relief that night for the Warriors, and he was on the hill again Tuesday out of the ‘pen with one out in the eighth, taking the ball from Brendan Martin.

With hurlers on both sides being pinched by a tight strike zone all night long, Ephrata’s Andrew Thomas and Dylan Embiscuso worked back-to-back one-out walks off of Brendan Martin. Although pitches appeared to be catching the plate, many believed the home-plate umpire’s strike calls were inconsistent, and when Colby Martin was summoned, Ricky Bromirski walked on four pitches to load the bases.

In all, the two teams combined to issue 20 walks.

“The game’s supposed to be for the kids,” a frustrated Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “It’s not about paying money to come see an umpire make bad calls. It’s horrible. I thought it was ridiculous.”

Nathan Young was next for Ephrata, and his flare over shortstop on a 3-1 pitch plated Thomas with the game-winning run.

Although Warwick questioned whether Thomas had touched the plate prior to the Mounts celebrating their win, the outcome stood.

“Our kids said (Thomas) never touched the plate,” Locker said, “but the umpire wouldn’t have known, because within the rules of what he’s supposed to do, he’s not supposed to turn his back before the guy actually steps on the plate and starts leaving the field. But if I was him, I’d have started leaving too.”

Martin — the third of four pitchers used by Warwick — threw 1 1/3 innings while taking the loss. Right-handed flame-thrower Adam Schwartz tossed 1 2/3 innings for Ephrata, striking out two and walking one, for the win.

Earlier, the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning off of Nathan Young, capitalizing on three hits and three walks.

A couple of base running mistakes early in the inning cost Warwick, but with two outs, Evan Clark walked, Ryan Aukamp singled to right, and Jeffrey Kline walked to load the bases. Bryce Zimmerman’s bases-loaded free pass forced in the first run and then courtesy runner Patrick Quinn scored on a wild pitch to give the Warriors a two-run lead.

The Mounts then got one back on a bases-loaded walk by Thomas off of Warwick starter Dagen Young in the bottom of the second, cutting Ephrata’s deficit to 2-1.

It remained that way when the game was halted by storms with one out in the top of the third.

When play resumed, Dagen Young was back on the hill for Warwick. Locker said both Young and Brendan Martin warmed up at the end of the delay, and their starting pitcher still looked good.

“Truthfully,” Locker said, “we got two more innings out of him with minimal damage. We got what we wanted.”

Although Ephrata tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the third when Ricky Bromirski doubled and scored on a Warrior throwing error, then took a 3-2 advantage in the fourth after Ryan Jantzen walked and later scored on a wild pitch, Young gave Warwick four quality innings, recording four strikeouts, while walking six and giving up two hits.

The left-hander was assured of a no-decision when Warwick got the tying run off of Ephrata reliever Zac McGillan in the top of the fifth. Bryce Zimmerman reached on a bunt single and scored on Young’s RBI ground out to make it 3-all.

From there, both teams had their opportunities.

The Warriors had two runners on base with one out in the sixth inning, and a runner on third with two outs in the seventh, but couldn’t capitalize off of McGillan and Schwartz.

“Schwartz gave us a little trouble when he came in at the end,” Locker said, “but if we’d have had another inning, we’d have been OK. We have good-hitting kids.”

Ephrata, meanwhile, threatened with two runners in scoring position with one out in the fifth — after Schwartz walked and Adam Maser doubled — but WHS reliever Colin Brubaker escaped trouble with back-to-back K’s.

Then in the seventh inning, Schwartz worked a leadoff free pass, but Brendan Martin got a big Colby Martin-to-Bryce Zimmerman-to-Justin Byler double play to see his way of the frame.

With neither team giving an inch, it came down to the eighth before the Mounts finally pulled it out.

“We played a very good baseball game,” Locker said. “We played great defense, I thought our pitching was what it needed to be. We took some opportunities early. We had a couple other opportunities. Two good baseball teams played a game and they made slightly fewer mistakes than we did. They won and that’s that. But I’m proud of the way the kids played. I thought we played great defense. I thought we went about things the right way. I just feel bad for the kids right now.”

***

Last Saturday, Warwick senior Justin Byler tossed four shutout innings and helped his cause by going 2-for-3 at the plate in a 4-0 victory over Manheim Central in the L-L League quarterfinals.

Byler struck out seven, walked just one and scattered five hits in his gem.

“The curve ball was working today, and when he has his curve ball working, he’s difficult to hit,” Locker said. “He did a tremendous job today. That was a great outing.”

The Warriors scored all they needed off of MC lefty starter Bryce Eberly in the first inning on Josh Farina’s RBI single. They added two more in the second on Colby Martin’s RBI single and Dagen Young’s (2-for-4) run-scoring double to left-center.

“We didn’t want (MC) the opportunity to play small ball, so when you put a couple runs up, you kinda know what you’re going to get,” Locker said. “I think we took a little bit of their energy away by scoring in the first three innings, and the kids just did what they needed to do.”

Byler’s leadoff double in the third chased Eberly and then Evan Clark’s RBI single to left off of reliever Colton Book stretched the lead to 4-0.

The Barons, meanwhile, got just one runner to third base, when Tyler Simon walked with one out in the third, stole second and then moved up on a wild pitch. But he was stranded at third by Byler, who benefitted from nice diving grabs in the outfield by Jeffrey Kline and Josh Farina.

“The defense made some incredible plays behind (Byler) today,” Baron coach Matt Huber said, “and our hits were patchy — we couldn’t string anything together. He made it very challenging for us to do anything offensively.”

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