Stunning successes: Warwick Phils, Manheim VFW to M-M title game

Blake Rieff steps to the plate for Manheim VFW.

By Dave Byrne
Sports Staff

Lightning, the two-out, baseball variety, struck three times Monday night at Mt. Joy’s Kunkle Field as the Warwick Phillies used three two-out, nobody-on rallies to stave off defeat, then rallied one final time in extra innings to defeat Manheim Township Black, 10-7, in the second game of a New Era Tournament semifinal doubleheader.

“We don’t want to do it that way,” offered Phillies coach Bill Weismandel, “but if it wouldn’t have been for the two-out runs and two-out hits, I don’t think this game would’ve even been close.”

Tyler Shirk’s single up the middle capped a 3-run, seventh-inning rally and the Phillies (32-6) advanced to tonight’s championship game, where they will meet Manheim VFW (14-10).

Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Kunkle Field.

Shirk’s hit was the final blow in an uprising that, oddly enough, began with one out when Evan Havemann reached on a high chop infield single that MT pitcher Tyler Russell could not field in time.

Luke Mariano beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt up the third base line and Havemann scored on Trevor Fitzpatrick’s RBI groundout. After his single, Shirk eventually scored on a wild pitch to end, finally, the scoring.

The concept of a shutdown inning was foreign to both Township and Warwick Monday night. Rather, the answer-back inning was the norm.

Warwick answered Township’s 2-run second inning with Adam’s game-tying single in the third inning.

After Township (14-11) took a 5-2 lead on Russell’s three-run, third-inning homer to dead center, Grant Zimmerman pulled the Phillies back to one with a two-run single to right in the fourth.

Zimmerman, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two batted in from the leadoff position, and Mariano, 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI from the seventh spot in the order, were catalysts all evening for the Phillies, setting the table for each of the key rallies.

Russell got the first two outs of the fifth, but Havemann and Mariano put the Phillies on top with run-scoring singles.

Coming from behind to beat Rheems Blue on Friday night, Township had been walking a tightrope the entire tournament.

Once again they dared destiny, tying the game on an unearned run on a overthrow at third base by catcher Drew Keller on a steal by Mark Kambic.

Keller made amends by doubling home Adams, who walked with two out, but Township sent the game to extra innings when Mason Nadeau worked releiver Colin Gibble for a leadoff walk, took second on a pickoff overthrow by Gibble and went to third on a groundout.

On Gibble’s second wild pitch in Ryan Dornes’ at bat, Nadeau scampered home with the tying run and Township, for the second straight game, was in overtime.

In the opener, Manheim VFW sent 15 batters to the plate in a first inning for the ages and rolled to a 17-5 victory over Donegal in a game shortened by the10-run rule.

VFW lit the scoreboard in the opening frame with 10 runs, on eight hits and four walks, along with two costly Donegal errors

“That might’ve been our biggest time that we’ve had,” said Blake Reiff, who certainly had a big time. “It was our best inning all year.”

The uprising was highlighted by Reiff’s 3-run, bases-loaded double in his second at bat of the inning. He also drove in a run with a bloop single his first time up and finished his night 3-for-4 with 3 runs and 5 RBI.

From top to bottom VFW was prolific on offense, hammering 16 hits, ensuring the mercy-rule with a ten-batter fifth inning, scoring six runs.

Justin Flanagan (2-for-4, 3 runs, RBI), Daniel Weiderrecht (2-for-2, 3 runs, RBI), Joshua Flanagan (3-for-4, run, RBI), Jarred Siegrist (2-for-4, run, 2 RBI), Tanner Fahnestock (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Logan Kready (2-for-4, run, RBI), and Brendon Good (1-for-3, RBI) joined Reiff in the onslaught.

Staggered, Donegal tried to get back in the game on RBI doubles by Ryan Myers and Bryce Sadler in the first inning and RBI singles by Adam Kolenda and Owen Mitchell in the second and third innings. But the first-inning hole proved too deep.

Warwick’s Grant Zimmerman steals home ahead of the tag by Manheim Township pitcher Tyler Russell.

Pitcher Joshua Flanagan delivers for Manheim VFW.

Warwick Phillies’ Grant Zimmerman steals second.

Connor Dickerson takes third as a throw eludes Camren Ney.

Manheim VFW’s Blake Rieff delivers a ground ball single in the fifth inning.

Chase Martin pitches for the Warwick Phillies.

Tyler Russell throws for Manheim Township.

Manheim VFW players stay loose in the dugout.