Phillies’ bid for LNP crown falls just short

By on July 15, 2015

 

Warwick Phillies’ first baseman Matthew Williams makes a nifty pick-up of a low throw to nab Manheim Township’s Drew Sassaman in the LNP championship game at Kunkle Field in Mt. Joy. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Warwick Phillies’ first baseman Matthew Williams makes a nifty pick-up of a low throw to nab Manheim Township’s Drew Sassaman in the LNP championship game at Kunkle Field in Mt. Joy. (Photo by Mike Shull)

In the second inning last Friday, Todd Shertzer was reminded that he is a Chicago Cubs fan.

The kind of thing which might befall his lovable Cubbies actually bit his Warwick Phillies team.

Having watched their early 1-0 lead disappear on a two-out, two-run homer by Manheim Township’s Kyle Musser, Warwick appeared to be out of the inning when Ryan Jones topped a bouncer to second base.

Except that Jones reached on a fielding error.

Two batters later, King slugged a three-run blast to left-center field for a 5-1 Streaks’ lead.

The Phillies never fully recovered and suffered a 6-4 loss to back-yard rival Manheim Township in the LNP Tournament’s Midget-Midget championship game at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field.

“I’m a Cubs fan, and what followed (after the error) is like, ‘Man, I’ve seen this story before,’” Phillies coach Shertzer laughed. “I’m familiar, trust me.”

The Phillies were also familiar with Township, having dropped a 7-4 setback to them in the 2014 M-M finals. Earlier this season, Warwick defeated the Streaks 19-6 and 4-3 in walk-off fashion.

This time, though, the Phils had three costly base-running miscues and Township lefty Nick Kurtz, capitalizing on a dominant heater and a nasty curve in 3 2/3 sharp innings of relief, shut down their hopes of a comeback. Kurtz K’d nine, walked two, yielded just one hit and stranded the bases loaded in the top of the third inning.

If the Phils had defeated the Streaks, they would have forced a winner-take-all game for the title this past Monday.

“Throughout the tournament, both the first and last games, I’m sure I’ll look back and see all the runners we let on base in situations,” Shertzer said. “Just trying to get those key hits. We had a couple of base running mistakes as well. Pressure situations, certain things happen and they’re 12 year old kids. Things happen. But I couldn’t be more proud of how they play.”

Things also happened to Warwick’s lineup since they faced Township in the regular season. Second baseman David Woolley was limited to pinch-running duties after suffering an injury, and Tristan Horst was playing with a team in Florida.

“We fought with the bullets which we had and the kids did great,” Shertzer said. “We’ll never make any excuses for that, but it certainly changes the dynamic of your team when you play almost 50 games in a season.”

They still had their bullets at the top of the lineup and Matt Seibert’s leadoff double against MT pitcher Luke Wenger and Zach Shertzer’s RBI ground out put them in front 1-0 in the first.

Meanwhile, Phillies’ starter Matt Williams, hitting his spots, retired five of the first six batters he faced. Then with two outs in the bottom of the second, Township’s Michael Heckman singled and Kyle Musser slugged a first-pitch home run to left field to put the Streaks up 2-1.

After Jones reached on a fielding error, Evan Clark rocketed a double to left-center and Dylan King connected on an 0-1 pitch from Williams for a three-run blast to extend the Streaks’ lead to 5-1.

“We had a couple of unforced errors that allowed them a few opportunities and they certainly took advantage of those opportunities when presented,” Shertzer said. “The top of that lineup is pretty fierce and you’ve got to be very careful. We were working the ball away all night on them and just two missed pitches by Willy in that situation &tstr; a high curve ball and fastball up and in that they jumped on.”

For the game, Williams threw 52 pitches in 3 1/3 innings. allowing just three earned runs while scattering eight hits. He K’d two and walked none.

“He pitched a tremendous game, really hitting his spots and doing a nice job with that,” Shertzer said.

So did Wenger, who went 2 1/3 innings for the win, whiffing two, walking two and scattering five hits. One of those base knocks was a leadoff double to left field in the top of the third. Seibert followed with an RBI single to right,

With the bases empty, Shertzer advanced to third on a MT error and scored stealing home to make it 5-3 when Zach Shertzer was caught in a rundown off of first. Evan Rohrbach then singled to left, Cam Hess worked a five-pitch free pass and Kurtz walked Williams to load the bases with one out. But the Streaks’ ace lefty got a fielder’s choice grounder and a strikeout to end the threat.

“When they brought Kurtz in, we had a couple of thoughts,” Shertzer said. “One, we got to him before. We played them twice this year, so we understood him, we knew what to do with him. He had much better command tonight than he had the first two appearances we faced him. We were fortunate to get a bunch of walks the first time around. But the kids had seen him. They weren’t overly intimidated by him at this point in the season.”

Kurtz threw 57 pitches in 3 2/3 innings while recording the save.

“Between (Kurtz) and Evan Rohrbach, in our league, I think they are two of the most dominant pitchers that we have,” Shertzer said.

The Streaks added an insurance run in the fourth on Kurtz’s RBI single right field to go up 6-3.

In their next at-bats, the Phillies got a leadoff walk from Zach Shertzer, who later scored on a Township error on Hess’ sharp single to right field, cutting the Streaks’ lead to 6-4.

But Kurtz retired the final four batters he faced on strikes to put it in the books.

For the Phillies, though, with seven players eligible to return in 2016, they will surely be looking to make another run next year.

“This team is made up of a bunch of winners and fighters,” Shertzer said. “No moment really was too big for them. We challenged them throughout the season. They won a tremendous amount of tournaments. We got second here, we got second in another tournament and everything else we won. So they knew how to close and when you lose tournaments like this, it’s something you can build upon and in future years, maybe close it differently.”

The Phillies advanced to the championship game with a 6-3 win over Solanco White in the loser’s bracket finals last Wednesday, July 8.

Zach Shertzer was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI doubles, while Rohrbach went 4 2/3 innings for the win, striking out nine, walking two and allowing just one run on two hits.

Rohrbach added two RBI doubles and Reagan Kline was 2-for-2, as the Streaks jumped to a 4-0 lead through four innings.

Williams was a hero in this game, as he relieved Hess with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth and recorded back-to-back K’s to get the clutch save.

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