Warriors’ late rally falls short

By on May 11, 2016

L-L playoff hopes suffer blow

Warrior shortstop Luke Mariano (6) gets the force-out at second base on Black Knight base runner Tim Gailor during first-inning action at Hempfield on Monday afternoon. Photo by Mike Shull.

Warrior shortstop Luke Mariano (6) gets the force-out at second base on Black Knight base runner Tim Gailor during first-inning action at Hempfield on Monday afternoon. Photo by Mike Shull.

Warwick’s Tyler Martin got himself into a hitter’s count and was zoned in.

Hempfield’s lead was down to one run, and the bases were loaded in the top of the seventh inning, so Black Knight reliever Andrew Corso had to throw a strike.

And Martin didn’t miss it.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, Hempfield third baseman Angel Colon didn’t miss the screaming line drive which came in his direction.

Colon then stepped on the bag to double off stunned base runner Matt Cover, clinching the Black Knights’ 3-2 victory in a key Section One battle in Landisville on Monday afternoon.

“(Tyler) roped that thing. A foot either way and it’s a base hit,” Warrior coach Bob Locker said. “I felt bad for the kids. I was impressed with the fact that we hung in there … He was right on the pitch, and yeah, it’s pretty tough to watch it end that way.”

It wasn’t easy watching their L-L playoff chances take a major hit, either. With just one game left, the Warriors fell to 11-4 Section (14-4 overall), two behind in the loss column to Penn Manor and Hempfield, who were tied for first as of deadline with 12-2 records. Both the Comets and Knights have two left to play.

“I don’t think completely mathematically (eliminated),” Locker remarked. “We certainly hurt ourselves now though.”

Warrior starting pitcher Tim Griest didn’t have his best breaking stuff early in the game, and the Black Knights took a 1-0 first-inning lead on Greg Gambler’s (2-for-3) RBI single to right-center.

Black Knight right-hander Alec Miller stranded a runner at second in the first inning, but Warwick’s offense — struggling as of late — manufactured the tying run in the second. Zach Peters worked a five-pitch leadoff free pass, Thomas Elliott sacrificed and Justin Byler (2-for-3) delivered an RBI single to left.

“We’ve lost three one-run games in a little over a week and we’ve had opportunities,” Locker said. “I thought we hit the ball better today. We took some better swings. Hitting goes in cycles and right now, I think we’re just a couple timely hits away from getting back on track.”

Tim Gailor and Brenden Keller had timely hits for Hempfield in the bottom of the second, each stroking an RBI single to left to put the Black Knights back in front, 3-1.

It then stayed that way until the seventh inning, as Griest and Miller settled in. Griest took the loss while throwing 105 pitches in six frames. He K’d three, walked one, scattered six hits and benefitted from a nice run-saving catch by center fielder Nate Hess in the bottom of the sixth.

“(Tim) hung in there and got stronger as the game went on,” Locker said. “I thought he was throwing harder in the fourth, fifth and sixth than he was earlier in the game. That says a lot about him — he hung in and gutted it out.”

Miller, meanwhile, yielded just two hits through five, but walked four and hit two batters, while striking out two on 89 pitches in 6 1/3 innings. On Luke Mariano’s (2-for-4) bad-hop base hit in the fifth, Colon was bloodied, but returned in the seventh inning after receiving treatment.

That final frame started with Byler collecting his second hit of the game, a sharp single to left, and then Cover working a six-pitch walk. Patrick Quinn sacrificed both runners into scoring position, ending Miller’s day and bringing Corso to the hill.

Mariano greeted Corso with an RBI single to left, making it 3-2, then Hess walked to load the bases.

Martin was next, and with the potential tying run just 90 feet away, a gut-wrencher befell Warwick.

“We did a lot of things right at the end of the game and (Tyler) did exactly what we asked him to do. Look for a pitch you can drive,” Locker said, “and he drove it, alright … I’m not supposed to say this, but nobody can convince me that we’re not one of the eight best teams in the L-L League. And unfortunately, somebody from Section One who is a very, very good baseball team isn’t going to wind up in League playoffs. But the flipside is, we had our chances to take care of our own business. I feel bad for the kids. The bottom line is, we’ve got a game (Tuesday), we’ve qualified for Districts — that’s the second season, so we still have an opportunity to play a lot of baseball.”

Last Thursday, Warwick’s Zach Peters went the distance and allowed just three hits, but suffered a tough-luck 1-0 loss to Manheim Township in a Section One game in Neffsville.

The Blue Streaks’ Justin Kilpatrick belted a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, and that was the difference in the game.

Tyler Martin was 3-for-3 to lead the Warriors’ seven-hit offensive against MT pitcher Connor Bair, but Warwick was held scoreless for the first time this season. Bair K’d one and walked three in the complete-game win.

Peters struck out eight and walked none while throwing just 71 pitches over seven innings.

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