Late SWS surge eliminates Eagles
The Cocalico Eagles 12U team made a late valiant effort Tuesday in an elimination game in the New Era Tournament against SWS at Kunkle Field.
Trailing 8-3 heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Eagles came all of the way back with five runs in the frame to knot the game at 8-8. However, in the top of the sixth, SWS reclaimed the lead for good, scoring six runs in the inning to grab a 14-8 advantage.
And this time, the Eagles didn’t have an answer as SWS eliminated Cocalico with the 14-8 victory. With the win, SWS advances to Wednesday (7 p.m.) where it will face Tuesday’s loser between Manheim Township and Warwick in the double-elimination tourney.
Cocalico found itself playing in the loser’s bracket after suffering an 11-1 loss to the No. 2 seeded Warwick Phillies in opening-round action on Monday night at Kunkle Field.
The Eagles (16-9) were still within striking distance at the end of three, trailing just 4-1, but the Phils broke it open with a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by John Seibert’s grand slam over the 255-foot sign in center field.
“There isn’t a weak spot in their lineup,” Cocalico Coach Drew Anthony said of Warwick.
From there, needing just three outs to invoke the 10-run rule, Warwick (39-6) turned to its third pitcher of the night, Cam Hess, who tossed a scoreless inning to nail down the victory.
Overall, Hess and Colin Brubaker allowed just two base runners in 2!-E innings of relief behind starting pitcher Seibert, who got the win.
“Fantastic, fantastic,” Warwick Coach Todd Shertzer said of Hess and Brubaker. “Cam’s 11 years old, big stage in the New Era … good for him because he’ll be here all again next year. All season, he’s shown a lot more maturity than what his age reflects.”
The big stage on Monday night saw hurlers on both sides throw a lot of pitches while facing a tight strike zone. Overall, the two teams combined to throw a whopping 211 pitches in four and a half innings.
“We really struggled tonight both on the hill and offensively as a team,” Shertzer said. “The umpire certainly had us a little off balance. We couldn’t get in a groove on either side of it and our guys were a little frustrated on that.”
Cocalico’s Seamus Finnegan worked a six-pitch leadoff walk and scored when Jude Anthony sliced an RBI base hit to right field. The Eagles then loaded the bases with back-to-back free passes, but Seibert avoided further damage.
“We wanted to at least put one up in the first inning and make them know we came to play and we did that,” Anthony said, “and then command issues in the first inning for us … that’s what got us.”
Indeed, Collin Beech’s bases-loaded free pass forced in the tying run against Eagles starter Andrew Zentner, who walked three and hit a batter. Ethan Minnich greeted reliever Austin Porter with a long two-run single to right-center and Kaden Hunt had an RBI ground out to make it 4-1.
Seibert, who gave up just one run on three walks and three hits, pitched out of a two-on, one out jam in the second inning to preserve the three-run lead. He mixed his fastball and curve to strike out seven on 62 pitches in 2@-E innings.
He then helped his own cause with line drive blast to center in the fourth. After Hess dropped a Texas League single into shallow right, Trey Glass and Zach Shertzer walked, setting the table for Seibert, who made no mistake on the second pitch he saw from Cocalico reliever Ian Martin.
“I knew he got a good piece of it, that’s for sure,” Shertzer said. “I just didn’t know if it had enough air to get over the fence out there at 255. He did a great job and put a good swing on it.”
“When you put runners on base against a team like that,” Anthony said, “they’re going to make you pay. Period. That’s what happened, no question.”
Minnich (2-for-3) then tripled to right-center and scored when Hunt reached on a fielding error, and then after Brubaker singled, Hess followed with a two-run double to left-center to make it 11-1.
That was all the Phillies needed.
“We purposely didn’t schedule any non-league games or scrimmages (after being Ephrata in a best-of-three series) just because I wanted the kids to have a break,” Shertzer said. “Did that have a little rusty effect on us? It couldn’t have helped us, let’s just say that right now. But I think they recognize now it’s time to lock it back up.”
The Eagles, who ended the regular season with seven wins in a row, were hoping to build off of their first-round series win over Manheim, which included quality starts from Zentner and Porter, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We were hoping to carry the pitching over and we also hit real well in that series,” Anthony said. “Hey, that’s the game. Some nights you’ve got it, some nights you don’t.”