Marple Newtown’s Luke Zimmerman quieted West Chester Henderson’s bats through six innings, allowing only one single and fanning seven.
Thomas Caufield then surprised the lefthanded ace with a perfectly placed bunt down the first-base line to start the seventh. He stole second base, moved to third on James Vito’s single, and forged a tie on a Shane Angle’s late suicide-squeeze bunt.
The Warriors added two more runs in the eighth and stunned the Tigers, 3-1, to capture the PIAA District 1 Class 5A title Tuesday afternoon at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth
With Marple Newtown nursing a 1-0 lead, Caufield said he made the decision to lead off the seventh with a drag bunt.
“[Zimmerman] was pitching a great game, so I wanted to try something different,” the senior shortstop said. “I saw the first baseman playing back.”
Henderson’s late comeback produced the program’s first district championship. Luke McNichol’s squad was runner-up to Council Rock North in Class 4A in 2010 and Conestoga in Class 3A in 2010.
McNichol has been in charge of the Warriors for 31 seasons. A 34-year math teacher at Henderson, he guided the squad to a Class 4A state crown in 2010.
“This was a total team effort,” said McNichol, just before his players dumped a cooler filled with ice cold water over his head. “I’m real happy for the kids, especially the seniors.”
Against Marple Newtown reliever Alden Mathes, No. 9 batter Brendan Gray reached safely on an error with one out in the eighth. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Leadoff man Ian Tracy’s high chopper over the third baseman was the winning hit. Caufield followed with a single to left field and scored from first on a grounder to shortstop that resulted in two errors.
Caufield, a four-year starter who is bound for North Carolina, gained redemption after grounding out to third in the first and whiffing in the fourth.
Caufield’s sophomore brother, Casey, is a second baseman for the Warriors (16-8). Another brother, Eddie, was a manager for the team from 2012 to 2015 and serves in the same role at Penn State-Brandywine.
The Tigers (21-2) went in front, 1-0, in the third on Zimmerman’s one-out sacrifice fly.
Henderson’s Justen Lucas replaced struggling starter Brady Bash in the third and held the defending district champs to four single in 4 1/3 innings. Evan Spano retired the last four batters to gain the win.
West Chester Henderson 00000012- 3 6 1
Marple Newtown 00100000- 1 4 3
WP: Evan Spano. LP: Alden Mathes