Dust rises from the glove of Upper Perk catcher Daulton Breyer as he fields a throw to the plate as a Wildcats player races by him to score in Monday's home game against Owen J. Roberts.
One very bad inning spelled doom for the winless Upper Perk baseball team in a 9-6 loss to Owen J. Roberts at home on Monday afternoon.
The Tribe (0-5, 0-7) got off to a promising start behind senior righthander Brendan Fitzgerald and had a 4-1 lead after four innings. But the wheels fell off in the top of the fifth as the visitors sent 11 men to the plate and parlayed seven hits, two errors, and a balk into a seven-run inning and an 8-4 lead.
Winning reliever Kutter Endy began the nightmare fifth with a flared single to center and Troy Salerno grounded a basehit to left. Speedy leadoff hitter Blake McCourt bunted toward third and beat Ryan Harris’ throw to first to load the bases with nobody out.
With Addison Bliss at the plate, Fitzgerald attempted to pick Salerno off second, but his wide throw went to the outfield, scoring Endy.
Bliss then lined a full-count pitch up the middle that literally took Fitzgerald’s glove off. If the Tribe hurler had been able to hang on, he had a sure double play, but, instead, the bases were re-loaded.
Noah Beebe scorched a line drive to left and the ball got past Dante DiBrigida and rolled to the fence to clear the bases and give the Wildcats (1-4) the lead at 5-4.
Coach Frank Mercon brought in Ty Stephen to pitch to Dylan Gallagher and the reliever induced a first pitch pop-up for the first out of the inning.
The next batter, David Clay, stayed alive after a foul pop beyond first fell just in front of lunging second baseman Mitch Siwy. Clay then walked on a 3-2 pitch after fouling off three pitches, putting runners at first and third.
Ben Candello put down a squeeze on the first pitch to make it 6-4. He reached first safely.
Before the first pitch to Colin McCourt, Stephen balked the runners to second and third.
McCourt lofted a foul pop in almost the identical spot where Clay hit his, and the ball again fell harmlessly.
“We had the infield up,” Mercon lamented. “If the infield’s back they’re caught. It’s amazing how that works.”
Naturally, McCourt took advantage of the second life to poke a two run single to right and an 8-4 lead.
Upper Perk’s young team did not respond well to the pressure Owen J. put on them in the inning.
“You could feel it in the field and on the bench. They were really getting vocal and energetic, and we were starting to get a little, maybe, intimidated by it,” Mercon said.
The game had begun on a promising note. After Beebe’s first inning single, Fitzgerald, throwing strikes and using a heavy dose of off-speed stuff, set down eight in a row until Beebe’s one-out double in the fourth.
Ryan Harris gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead in the first when his double into the right field gap scored Siwy who had opened the game with a walk.
In the second, the Tribe upped their advantage to 3-0 on back-to-back doubles by Stephen Bell and Siwy. Bell’s opposite field flare scored Brandon Frickman who had singled and Siwy plated Daulton Breyer’s (single) courtesy runner Ethan Steuer.
After Clay drove in Beebe with a fielder’s choice groundout in the fourth, the Tribe bounced right back on an RBI single by DeBrigida in the bottom of the inning.
But then came the fifth.
The Wildcats added to their lead in the seventh without a hit thanks to a walk, a sacrifice, and two Upper Perk errors.
Zach Zappo and Bell drove in seventh inning runs with groundouts to finish the scoring.