Strasburg-Willow Street Cardinals advance with victory over Manheim Township
By Dave Byrne
Nick Breznak had something to prove. As did his Warwick Phillies teammates.
Breznak pitched the Phillies into the Midget-Midget championship game of the Lancaster Newspapers LNP Tournament, supported by a pair of RBI doubles from shortstop Colby Martin, as the Phillies stopped the defending champion Mountville Indians, 5-2, Tuesday night at Mount Joy’s Kunkle Field.
The Phillies will rest for two days while the elimination portion of the tournament goes forward.
With the season on the line for both teams, Mountville will play the Strasburg-Willow Street Cardinals tonight at 7 at Kunkle.
The winner will face Warwick Friday evening, with the potential for a Phillies coronation.
Tuesday night Breznak tossed a three-hitter, allowing one earned run, walking three and striking out 10.
He was at his sharpest in the final inning when, with two Indians on and one out, he struck out Ty Vaughn on three pitches and Christian Shepperson on four.
“I just wanted to … make it to the championship,” Breznak said, “So we’d only have to worry about winning once.
“As the game went on, I felt like (I) got better,” he said.
Befitting a matchup of teams who had split four games thus far, no side enjoyed more than the briefest of advantages.
Brock Fassnacht put the Phillies on top, driving the first pitch he saw from Vaughn over the fence in center field.
Vaughn got that back in a hurry with a towering homer to left in the bottom of the second.
Martin’s first double gave Warwick a 2-1 edge in the third, but Mountville got that back in classic fashion, one inning later.
With CJ Saylor on second and Vaughn on first, Phils’ catcher Adam Ricketts picked Vaughn off first.
Saylor lit for third on the play and scored when first baseman Ethan Heller’s throw — arriving in plenty of time — sailed wide of third.
Undaunted, Warwick went to work in the fifth. Jeffrey Kline walked, taking the big turn at third on Heller’s double to right.
Kline scrambled back in time, eventually scoring on Caleb Beck’s RBI grounder to second with the infield up.
Martin ripped his second double to the alley in left, scoring on Dagen Young’s single to left to give Warwick a 5-2 lead.
“I felt good at the plate,” he said. “I just wanted to make a short swing, square up the ball and put the ball in play.”
It was up to Breznak then to bring it home and he was equal to the task.
The opener was an old-fashioned slugfest that saw the SWS Cardinals win by a touchdown and a field goal, topping the Manheim Township Streaks 19-9 in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
Dylan Byler (3 for 4, 2 RBIs) and Jarrod Getchis (3 for 4, 4 RBIs, 3 runs) paced the Cardinals’ 15-hit attack. They were supported by Patrick Holmes (2 for 3, 3 RBIs, 2 runs), Conner Blantz (2 for 3, 2 RBIs, run), and Nevin Book (2 for 4, 3 RBIs, 2 runs).
The Cards struck for four runs in the top of the first, but the Streaks answered with three in the bottom half of the inning on RBIs from Shaun Fedor (1 for 3, 3 RBIs, 2 runs), Bryce Behmer and Mason Lee’s suicide squeeze bunt.
SWS broke the game open in the third inning, batting around plus four and scoring 10 runs.
Highlights of the outburst were a two-run double by Getchis, a two-run single by Book and Holmes’ three-run double, capped by Blantz’s skying a two-run homer over left center.
Township struck back with six runs on an RBI single by Brenden Moshos (2 for 3, RBI, 2 runs), Fedor’s two-run single, a balk and RBI groundouts by Camron Barto and Jackson Hilbert.
That was as close as the Streaks would come as the Cardinals scored once in the fourth and four more times in the fifth.
Earning the victory in relief of starter Blantz was Kris Pirozzi, who threw two innings of hitless, shutout baseball.