In a season that has been full of “What ifs?” and “What might have beens” for manager Bill Feight and the Vikings, Tuesday night’s senior celebration was a microcosm of the entire season.
At times this season, the Vikings have exhibited the talent and tenacity that had pre-season predictions projecting Perkiomen Valley in the thick of the hunt for the Pioneer Athletic Conference title.
Then, there has been lapses that have cost the Vikings dearly, with examples such as the four-run lead that vanished against the Wildcats in the sixth inning, or the escape of the Bears when PV led until the final at bat.
“We have definitely been frustrated this year,” said senior Andrew Kenney, who is Bloomsburg-bound next year. “We felt coming in that we could compete for the Pac-10 championship, and it just hasn’t happened. We have had about four innings all year that have cost us games and put us where we are. We want to beat Pope John Paul (II) tomorrow night, and then hope we qualify for districts. We sure as heck don’t want the season to end yet.”
Before people had found their seats following the senior introductions, Pottsgrove scored the first run of the game as Don Woodruff, who led off by tripling down the right field line, was driven in by Ryan Gantert as he doubled off the fence in left center.
Another double by Allen Mendenhall, and just that quickly, the Vikings found themselves in a two hole to a squad that had one win all season.
Perkiomen Valley starter Ryan D’Ambrosio showed why he is such a sought-after commodity when he shut down the Falcons after the first-inning flurry. That allowed just two runners to reach base after the opening frame in which Pottsgrove had four hits—three for extra bases.
“Ryan really settled in after the first inning,” said senior catcher Mark Malantonio. “He never gets down on himself, which makes him so tough. They (Pottsgrove) came out really aggressive and were swinging first pitch fastball, so we changed it up after that and got control of the game.”
The Vikings cut into the Falcons lead in the second inning on a lead-off bomb hit by Kenny Wolf, who was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI, over the left center wall, then tied the game in the third when Andrew Kenny (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 SB) drove in Nick Koffel, who had doubled to left.
“We knew that we should handle this team,” added Kenney. “We just needed to be patient and select good pitches to hit. Ryan (D’Ambrosio) and Connor (Grande) did a great job on the mound tonight. This is the way I know we are capable of playing.”
Perkiomen Valley (9-8 overall), who has had their share of big innings against them this season, took control of the tilt by giving the Falcons a taste of the same medicine.
The Vikings sent 11 men to the plate in fourth inning, scoring five runs on six hits to take a commanding 7-2 lead, chasing falcons starter Mike Czekaj.
It was D’Ambrosio (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) helping his own cause with a two-run double that was the big blow of the uprising, scoring Wolf, who had doubled, and Malantonio.
Kenney and Brandon Moriarty also drove in a run with base hits, and Nick Coffle got the job done by lofting a long fly ball to score D’Ambrosio on a sacrifice fly.
“This is how we should have been playing all year,” said senior Zach Isaacson. “A couple of innings that have gotten away from us like last night in Boyertown, the sixth inning has just killed us all year, I don’t know why.”
In the sixth inning, D’Ambrosio (5 IP, 2 ER, 4K, BB, 6H) gave way to youngster Connor Grande, who proceeded to strike out the side for the second time in as many outings.
Grande set the Falcons quietly in the seventh and the Vikings had their ninth win of the season and district One playoff hope alive and kicking.
“Man, I don’t know where Connor has been all year,” said Malantonio. “We could have used some of that in a few tough spots. His ball breaks a little later, and he has good movement on his fastball because he has such a late release point, which I think makes it tough for hitters to pick up the ball coming out of his hand. He has done a great job the last couple games”
“Two years ago, we missed districts because we lost our last game,” said Feight. “Ten wins seems like that magic number. It’s simple, if North Penn loses, which could happen, we are in. If Boyertown would beat Spring-Ford, it would help us. It’s a shame that Owen J. game here could come back to bite us, but that’s how it is. There are some very good teams this year in District One. I am confident that we can stack up with anyone. ”
Pottsgrove 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2
Perkiomen Valley 0 1 1 5 2 1 X -10
Pottsgrove AB R H RBI
Woodruff cf p 3 1 2 0
Gartner dh 4 0 1 1
Christman rf 3 0 1 0
Chantargee c 3 0 1 0
Mendehall ss 3 0 2 1
Birch 1b 3 0 0 0
Stone 1b 3 0 1 0
Czekaj p lf 3 0 0 0
Hahn 2b 2 0 0 0
Totals 27 2 7 2
Perkiomen Valley AB R H RBI
Koffel cf 3 2 1 1
Leggieri 2b 2 0 0 0
Kenney ss 4 0 2 2
Struss 1b 4 0 1 0
Wolf rf 4 3 3 1
Malantonio c 3 1 0 0
Isaacson dh 4 1 1 2
D’Ambrosio p 3 2 2 2
Grande p 1 0 0 0
Moriarty 3b 4 1 1 1
Totals 32 10 11 9
2B- Wolf, D’Ambrosio, Koffel, Gantert, Mendehall 3B- Woodruff HR-Wolf (3)
LOB- Pottsgrove- 7, Perk Valley-8
Pitching IP R ER H SO BB
D’ Ambrosio (W) 5 2 2 6 4 1
Grande 2 0 0 1 4 0
Czekaj 3 6 5 6 1 1
Woodruff 2 3 2 4 1 1
Trythall 1 1 1 1 1 1