One bump in the road wasn't going to change Washington Township's approach when it came to starter Adam Warburton.
"He was going six no matter what," head coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "Adam has been the man all year for us. We figured he had six innings and we would use him for all six. Basically going with our closer first."
The Minutemen claimed the South Jersey Group 4 title yesterday, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth to retake the lead on the way to a 7-4 win over Lenape.
Township (18-11), the 13th seed in Group 4, jumped out to an early three-run lead, but the top-seeded Indians scored four runs in the fourth before Warburton settled down and the Minutemen made their rally. Warburton pitched his six innings, before Eric Sommermann made a state-mandated entrance for the seventh.
"They are a great team and they can really hit the ball," said Warburton, who has won all four postseason games this year and went 2-1 against Lenape this season. "I had that one bad inning but the makeup of this team is not to quit, and we didn't."
Township built a 3-0 lead with a manufactured run in the first and solo home runs in the second and third innings by Jonny Morad and Sean Nolan off Lenape starter Jason Bohrer. Through three innings, Warburton kept the Indians' bats silent, allowing only a pair of hits.
"Getting down to Township 3-0 early is tough," Lenape head coach Phil Fiore said. "We definitely weren't expecting that."
In the fourth, Lenape found the soft underbelly of the Township defense with four well-placed singles and a ground-rule double by John Eigenbrood to take a 4-3 lead.
"We felt good but we knew one run wasn't enough," Fiore said. "We've seen better from our pitchers this year. Township did a good job and they hit the ball. They came up with their bats and they took it from us."
"They've done that to me before," Warburton confessed. "I was worried all day about how I was going to pitch to them.
"But I stuck with my game plan. I knew I had to keep throwing strikes and let my defense work behind me. I never doubted we would get those four runs back."
The very next inning, Township jumped all over reliever Tory Schroff for four runs on four hits, including a pair of doubles - one by Nick Favatella that put the Minutemen up 5-4, and another by Mark Jankowski that scored a pair of runs and gave Warburton a three-run cushion.
"To win a South Jersey title is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Favatella, who should know since he was a freshman on the last Township team to win a sectional title. "I learned from that experience and the key was to not get down once they took the lead."
"We've gotten production throughout our lineup all through the playoffs," Alvaro Jr. said. "One game it was Mike Connors, then it was Mark Jankowski. Sean Nolan had a great game today [2-for-3 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI]. It's not just Nick Favatella and those guys. We're getting it from a lot of people, which is good for us."
With a 7-4 lead, Warburton showed why he's held in such high regard by the entire program, working two shutout innings and reaching 100 pitches in six innings of work. The senior, who was out of innings according to state regulations, gave way to Sommermann, who allowed two runners to reach in the seventh before he coaxed a fly out to center to secure the title.
The Minutemen continue their playoff run Tuesday when they meet Jackson Memorial, a 5-1 winner over Manalapan, at Rider University.
"I've said it all year long, we have a senior core that has been leaders since the last pitch of 2009," Alvaro Jr. said. "They deserve this win."