Warwick ends Ephrata win streak at 5
Sometimes, what you are looking for was right under your nose all along.
That was the case for Warwick and sophomore righty pitcher Thomas Elliot. In need of extra starting pitching due to the plethora of games recently, the Warriors sent Elliot, a reliever all year, to the mound Monday night at Ephrata in a key crossover game between a pair of L-L League contenders.
And in his first varsity start of the season, Elliot spun a beauty against one of the hottest teams in the league. After allowing a run and four hits over the first two innings, Elliot settled in and held Ephrata hitless over the next four frames before handing things over to reliever Luke Hackman, who pitched a scoreless seventh.
Offensively, Warwick’s bats came alive in the latter innings after a slow start against Ephrata’s Gavilan Fogarty-Harnish, overcoming a 1-0 deficit with a deluge of late production with the sticks.
Seth Earle’s two-run double in the top of the fourth gave the Warriors the lead, and Warwick tacked on in every inning the rest of the way en route to an eventual 7-1 victory over the Mounts.
With the win, Warwick, which collected 14 hits Monday, takes over sole possession of first place in Section One, ahead of both Penn Manor (5-2) and Cedar Crest (4-2).
While the Warwick offense certainly did its part, the story on this night was Elliot, who allowed just the four early hits while striking out six and walking four in his impressive six innings of work for the victory.
“We threw him in relief last week and he did a good job,” Warwick Coach Bob Locker said of the sophomore hurler. “The way things lined up we thought we’d take a shot tonight and see what he could do as a starter. And that was a pretty tremendous baseball game he played. He got stronger the last two innings. The curveball was much more effective and he started popping the ball a little bit. That was nice.”
As impressive as the win was for Warwick, all was not lost for Ephrata, which had its five-game winning streak snapped. By virtue of Solanco’s 6-3 setback to ManheimTownship Monday, the Mounts (6-2 overall) and Mules remain tied atop Section Two standings at 5-2.
“You are going to have nights like this so you got to learn from them,” Ephrata Coach Adrian Shelley said. “I don’t know if anybody could have foreseen us pulling off four wins in four consecutive days and five straight wins. We had, three complete games from three different guys, and three of those four games were on the road…Obviously I cannot lose perspective of the fact of what we did to put us in this position. I don’t think we did anything overly poor tonight. Yet, you have to be able to say, ‘Warwick played well, and this wasn’t our best game,’ and you move on. Based on where we are at this point of the season, the more important part is how we respond after this, and learn from it. I think our players are savvy enough not to dwell on it. We got to keep things in perspective. This was one of the top teams in Section One, so now we’ll see how we respond.”
Ephrata jumped out on top 1-0 with an unearned run in the bottom of the second when Josh Gehman walked and was later ruled safe at home on a first-and-third play when Warwick catcher Ian Hart dropped the ball while applying the tag on Gehman. The Warriors avoided further trouble when Ben Keyser fielded Anthony Embiscuso’s infield hit and nailed Brandon Schwark at the plate to end the inning.
It appeared at least early on that the one run may be all that Ephrata would need. Fogarty-Harnish got through the Warwick lineup once without much difficulty, but the young righthander ran into trouble in the top of the fourth when Keyser and Hart led off the inning with back-to-back singles.
Warwick’s clean-up hitter Travis Reapsome then gave himself up, laying down a sacrifice to move the runners to second and third. And the move paid off one batter later when rightfield Seth Earle delivered a two-run double to give the Warriors the lead at 2-1.
A lead-off single by Elliot to start the fifth would end Fogarty-Harnish’s night, and courtesy runner Michael Perezous eventually came around to score when Keyser, who had three hits, ripped an RBI single off Mount reliever Matt McGillan for a key insurance run.
Reapsome would double and score a sixth-inning run off an RBI hit by Derek Acaley (3-for-4) to make it 4-1, before Warwick broke it open with four hits and three more runs in the seventh off McGillan and Dylan Good, who entered the game earlier in the frame.
“The last three or four games we’ve really started to hit the ball,” Locker said of his offensive attack. “We got off to a slow start offensively, but we’ve started to hit the ball better lately. The kids started making some adjustments and are hitting the ball better…I thought they did a nice job the second time around tonight.”
“Warwick hit up and down the lineup and they became increasingly tougher outs as the game wore on,” he said. “Due to the fact that we couldn’t really power pitch them, I thought (the Warriors) deserved a lot of credit for their approach after the first three and a half frames.”
Despite all of the Warwick hits, Ephrata remained in the game for most of the way. The Mounts did threaten in the fifth with two runners aboard and two outs. However, Colin Albright’s fly ball to left was snagged by a diving Warwick leftfielder Grant Zimmerman to end the threat.
Elliot, who had 19 first-pitch strikes out of 24 batters faced on the night, set down the Mounts in order in the sixth before Hackman came in to close the door with an uneventful bottom of the seventh.
“We are really happy with the fact that we’ve been talking to the kids about trying to play better games,” Locker said. “We were a little sloppy the first couple games out. We just keep talking about trying to get better every game and do a good job improving things that need improving, and this was the best defensive game we’ve play all year. I thought our kids made some nice plays, and I thought our baserunning was very good. We did a nice job of trail running, we took advantage of some things so it was nice to see some kids continue to improve.”
Fogarty-Harnish, who allowed three runs on eight hits without a walk nor a strikeout, was tagged with the loss.
While things didn’t go too well for Ephrata Monday, it was a different story for the Mounts last week when they reeled off wins Wednesday, Thursday and Friday behind three big pitching performances.
Last Wednesday at home vs. CV, Fogarty-Harnish took the bump and went the distance to earn an 8-1 complete-game victory. The junior scattered five hits while striking out seven and walking two in his big outing.
Gehman led the seven-hit Ephrata attack with a 2-for-3 performance with two RBI.
Last Thursday at Elizabethtown, it was junior Austin Lowrey’s turn to shine on the mound as he went the distance, striking out three and walking none in a 9-1 victory over the Bears.
Chase Weik led the Ephrata 11-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with five RBI. Brady Sipe and Gehman both added two hits each for the winners.
The Mounts and senior starter Morgan Stauffer faced their most difficult test of the week Friday in a key crossover game at ManheimTownship.
Stauffer’s pitching was the key in a 5-2 Ephrata win as he struck out five and walked two while scattering eight hits in the complete-game victory. With the game tied at 1-1, Charlie Warden knocked in the go-ahead run in what turned out to be a four-run Ephrata sixth inning. Both Warden and Nate Fassnacht had two hits each to lead the Mounts.
As for Cocalico, the Eagles started off the week well last Wednesday with an impressive 9-2 victory over previously unbeaten Solanco at home.
Sophomore pitcher Alex Sherk limited Solanco to just the two runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked one in the complete-game victory. The Eagles pounded out 13 hits offensively.
Cocalico has since been on the losing end of three-straight lopsided scores, including Monday’s 14-1 loss at home to Hempfield. The Eagles also dropped an 18-5 Section Two contest to ConestogaValley last Thursday, and lost a 13-1 non-league contest at home Saturday to Exeter.
With the 1-3 week, the Eagles fell to 3-4 in Section Two play and are 6-4 overall.