It would not be an insult to state that the Warwick Phillies stole the New Era Tournament Midget-Midget title.
On a night when hits were at a premium, the Phillies stole ten bases, pacing a 9-8 victory Tuesday over Manheim VFW Maroon and the first New Era M-M title for the Phillies since 1992.
They stole second six times, third four times. They scored two runs on wild pitches and two runs on errant throws to third base on steals and, stole another run when Tyler Shirk scored from second on Grant Zimmerman’s infield single to the hole at shortstop.
“Luckily, we run the bases real well,” said Phillies coach Bill Weismandel, whose boys stole 29 bases in the tournament. “We stay aggressive on the bases and try to make things happen. That was the key, I think.”
The base path track meet overcame a night when the Phillies could manage just three hits off Manheim starter Daniel Weiderrecht and two off reliever Jarred Seigrist.
“Sometimes when the bats aren’t always going, you’ve got to find other ways to score and produce offense,” said Weismandel.
Meanwhile, Colin Gibble was walking the fine line between dominant and dominated, allowing seven runs — five earned — on six hits, but also striking out eight.
“I was just trying to get ahead in the count and pitch strikes,” said the 11-year old left-hander, who got many of his strikeouts on a nasty slider. “I was keeping the ball low and away.”
He left with the lead courtesy of the Phillies’ final rally. A lead he provided on the second of two fifth-inning hits.
Those two hits delivered Warwick’s second, and final, lead of the night. It also ensured Gibble would pick up his third win of the tournament.
Drew Keller (2-for-2, 3 runs scored) doubled to lead off the fifth, stole second and scored on Gibble’s double to center.
“(I wanted to) hit the ball out of the infield,” said Gibble, “keep it low, not pop up.”
Gibble, who had earlier driven in runs on a groundout and a single, was caught stealing third. But Chase Martin walked, stole second and third and came around on catcher Brendon Good’s throw into left with, as it turned out, a much needed insurance run.
In the Manheim sixth, with one out, Justin Flanagan popped an infield single between three defenders, just off the mound, then advanced on a botched pickoff throw at first.
Weiderrecht’s deep fly to right was the second out of the inning, bringing Blake Reiff to the plate.
Reiff was enfuego with an RBI double, 2-run homer and RBI triple in three trips to the plate.
In fact, if there was an MVP of the tournament, Reiff would get serious consideration. He was 7-for-9 for the tournament coming into this at bat, with three doubles, five runs scored and nine RBI.
Make that 8-for-10, four doubles and ten RBI, as he drilled closer Cole Adam’s 1-0 offering to deep center.
Any consideration to walking him?
“No,” said Weismandel. “Actually, one of the coaches asked me and I said I wasn’t going to put the tying run on. I do walk guys, and he’s one you would walk, but in that situation he’s got to earn his way on.”
He got on, but never came home. For the second time in the evening, Reiff was stranded in scoring position as Adams, earned his second save, getting Josh Flanagan to ground to second baseman Luke Mariano for the final out of the game.
Reiff’s 2-run double gave Manheim (14-11) a lead after a half inning, but Warwick (33-6) answered with three in their first.
Reiff’s homer gave Manheim a 6-3 lead, which lasted an inning. The Phillies put up three on a wild pitch, error and Gibble’s single in the bottom of the third.
Reiff’s triple made it 7-6. Shirk’s jailbreak knotted the game at 7-7. Which is where it stood until the Phillies’ game-winning rally.
“We came about an inning short,” said Manheim coach Jeff Flanagan. “We came a long way this year with only three returning starters. To be where we’re at today, I have no complaints at all.”