The 2013 baseball season has been one of many journeys for Caleb Heck.None more significant than the 70 feet he traversed from third base to home in the bottom of the sixth inning, Saturday afternoon at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.Heck, who drove in four runs earlier in the game, scored the game-winner on Dagen Young’s single, and the Warwick Phillies won the 68th Lancaster Newspapers New Era Midget-Midget Tournament, defeating the Mountville Indians 6-5.
In a game postponed from Friday by rain, the Phillies (39-5) won their first NET title since 2009 — the program’s fourth overall — doing it in dramatic fashion after the defending champion Indians (44-6) battled back from a three-run deficit to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning.
Heck, who hit a three-run homer in the second inning and singled in a run in the fourth, turned the lineup over stroking a single to right field with one out in the bottom of the sixth. He progressed around the basepath on a wild pitch and an errant pickoff throw at second by losing pitcher Josah Snyder.
After getting the second out on a strikeout, Snyder went to work on Young, who was 0 for 3, pulling two ground outs to first.
Snyder put Young in an 0-2 hole before Young worked the count back to even, 2-2.
“I was just waiting for my pitch,” Young said. “I thought to myself, ‘I can end this right here.’ When he threw (the next pitch), it was my pitch.”
Young drove the ball the other way, through the shortstop hole just past the glove of third baseman Cole Houser, and into left field and Heck hastened home.
“I knew it was a hit,” Heck said. “I started waving my hands, ’cause I knew we’d won.”
Young knew it too.
“I started jumping on the way to first,” he said. “It was awesome.”
And an awesome ending to a tightly contested championship.
Prior to the beginning of the tournament, the teams had split four games.
Included in that number was Mountville taking the LCYBL regular season meeting — 11-8 on a three-run, sixth-inning walkoff homer — while the Phillies prevailed in the championship game of the Donegal Springs Tournament in April.
The Phillies gained the upper hand — and, key to Saturday’s victory, the last bats’ advantage — stopping the Indians 5-2 on Tuesday.
Mountville struck first Saturday on a first-inning RBI ground out by C.J. Saylor.
Phillies starter Brock Fassnacht pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the second inning and his leadoff single in the bottom of the inning got the ball rolling.
With two out, Ethan Heller walked, bringing up Heck.
Heck had missed time with a thigh injury, then left for a family vacation to Alaska, returning three weeks ago.
“Once we got back, I was a little rusty,” Heck said. “I got back into a rhythm and started hitting.”He was 0 for 4 for the tournament with an RBI coming into Saturday, but he got all of Indian starter Ryan Moffatt’s 2-1 pitch, sending it the opposite way to right.”I thought it was either going to hit the top of the wall or go (out),” Heck said.”He is .. a big kid, a strong kid,” Phillies coach Eric Martin said. “He drives power to all fields.”Heck singled in Max Bright in the fourth inning to make it a 4-1 game with Fassnacht taking a three-hitter into the fifth.”Brock went six (innings) on Monday,” Martin said. “We were starting him, but we knew we didn’t have six out of him (today).With that in mind, the Phils had Nick Breznak warming up and, with one on and one out in the Mountville fifth, Martin brought him in.
Mountville scored a run on Breznak’s pickoff error and Saylor plated the second run of the inning on a Texas Leaguer behind first to make it a 4-3 game.
But Breznak singled in Adam Ricketts in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-3. Then the game got interesting.
Bresnak interspersed a double by Snyder and single from Nick Fiore with a pair of strikeouts in the top of the sixth, then walked Seth Constein.
He got Houser in an 0-2 hole, just missed for a ball, then painted the outside corner.
Too close to take. Way too close.
“We (say) don’t put the game in the umpire’s hands,” Mountville coach Bob Sauders said. “If there’s anything close, you’ve got to be up there swinging.
“Should he have swung at that pitch? You bet he should’ve swung at that pitch!”
Houser swung at the next pitch, pulling it inside the bag at third and into the left-field corner, for a game-tying, two-run double.
A dagger to the Phillies’ core.
“We thought we had it in our grasp,” Martin said.
“OK, it’s a tie game. We still have the upper hand, still have last bats. Let’s take care of business.”
And take care they did.