Warriors bow to Exeter in Districts

By on June 18, 2014

 

by Bruce Morgan

Of the 104 pitches that Travis Reapsome threw on Monday, there was just one that he would have liked back.

The high fastball wasn’t missed by Exeter Township three-hole hitter Austin Gentry, who deposited it over the left field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning.

It turned out to be the difference for the 6th-seeded Eagles in a 3-2 win over the 11th-seeded Warriors in a District Three Quad-A first-round playoff game in Reading.

“They hit one ball hard all day &tstr; I’m sure we’d like to have that pitch back,” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “I don’t think they had another solid hit the whole game. The pitch was up a little in the zone, a little more up than we wanted it, and the kid turned on it. You can’t take anything away from a kid who does his job when he sees a pitch he can turn on.”

While Exeter (14-8) advanced to Thursday’s District quarterfinals to face 3rd-seeded Ephrata (18-5), a 7-5 winner over Central York, Warwick goes home with a final record of 12-9.

The Warriors overcame an early 1-0 deficit, took a 2-1 lead off of Eagle starter Derrick Jackson and were cruising behind Reapsome, who was painting the edges with his fastball.

On his way to pitching a four-hitter, with a season-high 10 K’s, the ace lefty retired eight straight at one point.

Then after Gentry’s two-run blast put Exeter up, Warwick had the potential tying run at third base with two outs in the top of the seventh in sophomore Tyler Martin, but off-speed artist Dylan Richards ended it with a strikeout.

“We’re a better fastball-hitting team,” Locker said.

Ultimately, the Warriors left 11 men on base and hit just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“Killer … we had too many chances we didn’t take advantage of,” Locker said. “We just needed a couple of clutch hits here and there and we’ve been a little snakebit lately.”

Reapsome was certainly snakebit in the bottom of the second when Exeter manufactured a run on three base hits that never left the infield grass. Reed Huntzinger led off with an infield single just past the mound, Richards sacrificed, Morgan Wilson grounded out to first and Jackson’s dribbler to second base plated Huntzinger with the first run.

“The first run, are you kidding me? Nothing got out of the grass, let alone the infield,” Locker said.

Warwick got that one back in the third off of Jackson, as Luke Hackman worked a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Reapsome’s RBI base hit to right-center field.

Jackson threw 73 pitches in just four innings, striking out four while giving up two runs on four hits and three walks. Warwick’s go-ahead run scored when Michael Perezous reached on an error in the fourth inning and scored on Tommy Garner’s RBI to the base of the fence in right-center.

“(Tommy)’s been producing in the nine hole,” Locker said, “so that’s why we kept him there.”

Reapsome was producing on the hill, riding a dominant fastball while mixing in an occasional curve for strikes. The Virginia Commonwealth University recruit threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 25 batters that he faced.

“Reapsome was dealing,” Locker said, “and it was like, we’re not backing off anybody. We had no reason to believe anyone was going to turn on one, they were having a lot of trouble. He had said something to me about, ‘Just let me go with the fastball because it’s popping today and let’s go straight at people,’ so we did.”

Unfortunately, leadoff batter Hunter Hart leaned into a pitch with one out in the fifth, snapping Reapsome’s streak of eight straight retired. One out later, Gentry, who was batting .408 with 18 RBI’s, hit a first-pitch heater over the fence in left, putting the Eagles in front 3-2.

Still, Warwick had two runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings. In their final at-bats, Tyler Martin’s first varsity hit got things started, but he was stranded just 90 feet away.

“They found a way to win the game and if I was in their shoes, I would be commending my kids for finding a way to win the game,” Locker said. “I feel bad for the seniors. That’s a tough way to go out.”

Looking back, Warwick’s skipper was proud of his players for their accomplishments this season.

“I’ll have a lot of what-ifs tonight because that was a winnable game,” Locker said. “I’ll spend time thinking about that and then eventually I’ll get to the fact that the kids won a Section title and last year, they got to the second round of Districts. But mostly I’ll think of the fact that they were really good kids.”

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451.

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