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Despain’s walk-off squeeze bunt lifts Souderton over Pennridge

LOWER SALFORD >> A game of errors ended on perfect execution.

Jack Despain’s well-placed squeezed bunt to the right of the mound gave Pennridge pitcher Andrew Mayhew no chance to throw out Tim Robinson at home plate, the run the second of two in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Souderton baseball team claimed a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Rams Tuesday afternoon.

“That’s just what we practice. In practice we practice getting the bunts down and executing,” Despain said. “I pretty much knew going in that I was going to have to bunt so I was getting ready for it before my at-bat. And then I just executed when I saw a good pitch and put it down.”

Both teams in the Suburban One League Continental Conference matchup at Vic Alderfer Memorial Ball Park had their moments of defensive struggles, the sides combining for 10 errors — six by Pennridge, four by Souderton — which led to a total of six unearned runs.

The miscues produced back-and-forth swings in the later innings. After being held hitless through the first five frames, the Rams plated three in the top of the sixth, the last two scoring when Kolby Rush reached on a two-out error for a 3-2 lead. But a pair of Pennridge errors in the seventh helped ignite Big Red’s rally as Souderton (3-4, 1-1 conference) won its second straight.

“Four errors again, some misplays, some backwards Ks that shouldn’t happen on our part. I preach to these guys all the time, all you have to do is put the ball in play and let them make mistakes,” Indians coach Mike Childs said. “And that’s what happened. They put the ball in play against us, they go ahead, routine ground ball. We just got to let it go. Let it go, battle back and I just had to give a speech yesterday as far as ‘Hey, there’s someone on this team, you’re not having a good day, someone on this team got to pick that guy up.’ And that’s what happened today.”

Derek Freed began the Souderton half of the seventh reaching first on an error. That ended Pennridge starter Ian Kacergis’ day on the mound. Mayhew came in and proceeded to hit David Gulibon to put two on with no outs. The next at-bat, Brendan Kreag dropped down a bunt in front on home plate and made to first on an error, which allowed Freed to score from second and Gulibon to reach third.

“It’s a mental game, you have be able to make plays,” Pennridge coach Tom Nuneviller said. “It’s tough, you got to be able to field a ball, throw a ball and we struggled doing that today.”

Despain gave the Indians the win as he squeeze bunt did not allow Mayhew a opportunity to throw out a charging Robinson, the pinch runner scoring with a feet-first slide — the Indians mobbing Robinson at the plate then Despain at first to celebrate the walk-off victory.

“We’ve been struggling this year so far, so this is definitely a big win for us,” Despain said. “We should have won in six-and-a-half innings instead of seven but it’s still great to see we can get it done. I know this team’s good, we just got to execute and that’s what we did and we ended up getting the win.”

Pennridge’s Kyle Yoder steals third base as Souderton’s Kyle Lennon reaches to make the tag during their game on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Neither starter factored in the decision but both had strong outings. Kacergis went six-plus for Pennridge, the right-hander giving up three runs — none earned — on four hits. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

“Ian Kacergis is pitching tremendous out there, he’s getting all kinds out outs and we make I don’t know how many errors — five, six errors today,” Nuneviller said. “And that’s a lot of extra pitches for a pitcher how we would have liked to have those extra pitches at the end of the game there.”

Souderton’s Blaise Sclafani threw six innings, giving up three runs — one earned — on two hits. The righty struck out four, walked one and hit one batter.

“Blaise did awesome,” Childs said. “Junior that’s coming in, he struggled a little a bit in offseason games. He didn’t hang his head at all. Couple of times early this year when we had ground balls and misplayed ground balls, he would hang his head. He just turned around, went right back on the mound again and got upset and got a little fiery, which sometimes you need that.”

Jordan Morales earned the win for the Indians, striking out two in pitching a perfect top of the seventh. Mayhew took the loss for the Rams (4-4, 2-1), who have dropped their last three games.

Both teams are on the road for conference games Thursday. Pennridge is at Central Bucks West at 3:30 p.m. while Souderton visits North Penn at 3:45 p.m.

Souderton pitcher Blaise Sclafani on the mound during game against Pennridge on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Luke Barnum dropped in a one-out single to center when the Rams lost the ball in the sun. An error on a pickoff throw moved Barnum to second, where he scored from on Brett Moyer’s RBI double to left center.

Souderton made it 2-0 in the fifth as Greg Gallagher reached on an error and his courtesy runner Kreag  came home due to an error on a Despain two-out grounder.

Mayhew collected the Rams’ first hit with a leadoff single in the sixth then took second on a wild pitch. With one out, Jimmy Petrik struck out, but took first on a wild pitch that also allowed Mayhew to advance to third. Joe Robinson’s single to right center scored Mayhew. Two batters later an error on Rush’s grounder brought in Petrik and Robinson for the 3-2 Pennridge lead.

Souderton 4, Pennridge 3
Pennridge           000 003 0 — 3 2 6
Souderton          000 110 2 — 4 5 4
WP: Jordan Morales 1.0 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 SO.
LP: Andrew Mayhew 0.0 IP 1 H 1 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 SO 1 HB.
2B: S-Bretty Moyer.
Pennridge: Mayhew 1-2, R; Joe Robinson 1-2, RBI, R.
Souderton: Moyer 1-3, RBI; Jack Despain 1-4, RBI, R.

Top Photo: Souderton’s Luke Barnum celebrates his run with his teammates during game against Pennridge on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media

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