Ryan Harris chases an Academy Park player as he gets caught in a rundown between third base and homeplate in the first round of District 1 playoffs Friday in Collingdale.
Upper Perk’s baseball season came to an end in a wild 16-9 loss at Holy Ghost Prep in the quarterfinals of the PIAA District 1 playoffs on Tuesday.
After Tribe starter Chris Kachmar had to leave the mound with a flare up of a rib injury, the Firebirds (16-4), of the Bicentennial-Constitution League, had their way with three Upper Perk relievers.
After giving up eight runs in the third, the Tribe was staring up at a 14-4 deficit. But five unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth allowed the Tribe to make a run at the top seed from District 1.
A two-run double by Ryan Harris (two doubles, four RBIs) was the big blow in the fifth, as Upper Perk closed to within 14-9.
But Holy Ghost added single runs in the fifth and sixth and shut down the Indians the rest of the way despite issuing nine walks.
Mitch Siwy and Zach Zappo scored three runs apiece for Upper Perk. Dante DeBrigida absorbed the loss on the mound.
The Tribe had gained entry into the tournament itself with a 14-4 triumph over Academy Park last Friday. It was not as easy as the final score indicated.
Upper Perk trailed 3-1 after four innings before erupting with a seven-spot in the fifth.
“We needed something, some people to step up, take control of the team. Myself and the other seniors kind of grouped everyone together,” said Siwy, one of a small senior contingent that includes Stephen Bell, Brendan Fitzgerald and Harris.
Bell and Siwy backed up their fighting words by igniting the fifth inning rally.
Bell started with a single, and lead-off hitter Siwy followed with a double to left, moving Bell to third.
“Mitch Siwy’s at bat changed the whole game,” said Coach Frank Mercon. “He was two strikes and fouled off maybe three, four pitches in a row. Then he smoked a ball. After that everything we hit was on the nose.”
Zach Zappo got the first run of the inning home with a basehit and Brandon Frickman followed with a line drive single to left to plate Siwy and tie the game at three.
After an error loaded the bases, Fitzgerald, the winning pitcher, unloaded a bases-clearing double for a 6-3 lead.
Eric Stalford followed with a single to left to plate Fitzgerald. Stalford was forced at second by Chris Kachmar, who had tripled home Upper Perk’s first run of the game. After Dante DeBrigida reached on another Academy Park error, Kachmar would score the last run of the inning for an 8-3 advantage.
At Mercon’s direction, the Tribe hitters adjusted their approach to AP hurler Steve Leidy who was baffling Upper Perk with off-speed offerings.
“Compared to other pitchers (in the PAC-10) his approach was a lot slower,” said Siwy. “We went to the two-strike approach and after going to that, we made solid contact.”
The “two-strike approach” meant an emphasis on waiting on the pitch, a shorter stride and stroke, and getting the ball on the ground.
The Tribe salted the game away in a four-run seventh that included RBIs by Siwy and Frickman for a 14-3 lead.
Fitzgerald did his job on the mound, overcoming some shaky fielding partially attributable to the poor condition of the field. He struck out a season-high 10 batters and did not walk anyone while scattering seven hits, including Leidy’s two-run homer, in a complete game.
Mercon appreciated his veteran presence on the mound. “He battled and threw strikes. He threw a great game. Nothing fazes him. He just goes out and he does his job and whatever happens he’ll battle through it.”