BY DAVE BYRNE
Comparing scores is a fool’s errand.
That said, looking at the Warwick Phillies’ 7-6 and 3-0 regular-season victories over the Strasburg/Willow Street Cardinals, you would never see this coming: Warwick 19, SWS 6.
One night after being limited to four hits by the Manheim Township Streaks, the Phillies (40-6) exploded for 19 knocks, in a just-one-of-those-nights that left the Cardinals (13-17) bloodied but unbowed. But eliminated from the tournament just the same.
“We beat three good teams to get here tonight,” said coach Brian Davidson, whose Cardinals entered the New Era Tournament as the No. 9 seed and played their way into the final four. “And, we lost to a great team tonight. They just ripped the ball. Hit it all over the place, and there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s baseball.”
The victory earns Warwick a rematch with the Streaks (21-1) Friday night at Kunkle at 7 p.m., with the New Era Midget-Midget title on the line. Township knocked the Phillies into the elimination game with a 12-2 victory Tuesday night.
“After the way we came out last night, it was really not our best performance, by any stretch of the imagination,” offered Phils coach Todd Shertzer. “(But) we had really no excuses. Township came to play and when you allow 10 walks and only have four hits, and you scatter three or four errors in there, its not a good recipe for a win.”
Zach Shertzer had a night most players dream of. The 12-year-old shortstop drove in six runs while going 3 for 4 with a home run. It was, his father considered, the most productive night of the lad’s young career. “Hitting in the No. 2 hole, you don’t get that many opportunities,” he allowed.
His two-run blast in the first inning, a majestic ball pulled into and over right field, came right behind Trey Glass’ leadoff triple, a triple that set the tone for the evening.
“It really helped,” Zach Shertzer said, “because I’d been slumping coming into the game. It got me excited, I came up with a pretty good home run and then our team just took it away from there.”
“Zach has had a tremendous year for us,” Todd Shertzer said. “He lead the team in pretty much every offensive category, with the exception of home runs. When you have (Collin) Beech and (John) Seibert, it’s understandable why he doesn’t lead that category.”
The Cardinals halved Warwick’s two-run lead in the second inning on Mark Roberts’ RBI hit, one of four SWS singles in the inning, but Phillies starter Colin Brubaker pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam, inducing Ethan Hackman to pop to third before striking out Taso Kovack.
Then the Phils dropped the house on the Cards, and Kovack, their starter.
Kaden Hunt led off with a double and Warwick loaded the bases as Kovack hit Brubaker and walked Cam Hess. Kovack got Glass on an infield fly, but Shertzer singled up the middle, delivering a pair, and John Seibert doubled in two more.
Before it was over, the Phillies had batted around, plus-6, and scored 11 runs on eight hits and three walks. “I think everybody was ready to hit tonight,” said Zach Shertzer, “after a pretty bad loss last night.”
Trey Miller came off the bench and plated three runs in the third inning on a bases-loaded double, scoring on a steal of home on a strikeout, and Warwick posted a pair in the fourth on singles from Ethan Minnich (2 for 4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) and Hunt (2 for 2, 3 runs, 2 RBIs). In all, every Phillies starter drove in at least one run, except for Glass (2 for 3, 2 runs) and Collin Beech (3 for 4, 2 runs).
“The top of our lineup, all year, has been a key part of our offense,” Todd Shertzer said. “If you get your top guys moving, that just jump-starts everybody.’’
Brody Price came in to pitch for Warwick behind Brubaker and had an uneventful third and fourth innings. But he lost the strike zone in the fifth after loading the bases on two hits and an error. Logan Davidson and Christian Garver worked Price for RBI walks and Nate Royer greeted reliever Cam Hess with an RBI single.
Mark Roberts also singled in a run in SWS’ bat around plus-2, before Hess snuffed the five-run rally, getting the final out.