WHITEMARSH >> Wissahickon’s Matt Shilling singled to start the top of the fifth inning against Plymouth Whitemarsh and stole second. He scored after two errors were made on a single play.
What happened in the middle of his base-running is what bought the game to a halt and — when it continued — the Trojans scored four runs to turn a two-run lead into a six run blowout on their way to a 12-2 Suburban One League American Conference win at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School Thursday afternoon.
After Shilling stole second, a ball bounced up to the plate. The senior broke for third, but the catcher corralled the ball, forcing Shilling to return to second base. He beat the throw easily and didn’t slide, colliding with second baseman Jack Mangan. Mangan went down and the PW bench wanted Shilling ruled out. Wissahickon’s bench shouted that Shilling has the right to the basepath.
“It’s a very sticky situation,” Wiss coach John Bernhardt said. “Matty went into the bag hard and unfortunately … Jack was in front of the bag and Matty — he’s entitled to the bag. It is what it is. I talked to Matt about it and it’s a shame that it happened but it is what it is. That’s baseball. They were a little hyped after that.”
“I didn’t like it,” PW coach Chris Manero said of the play. “I think I was pretty clear that I didn’t like it. We all want guys to play hard, but I think, I just disagreed with the umpire.”
A couple of pitches later, PW tried to pick Shilling off of second base. The throw got past the shortstop to allow Shilling to reach third and past the center fielder so he could score.
“I wasn’t trying to start anything,” Shilling said of the play at second. “I was just trying to get back to second. I honestly didn’t even see him. He was just standing in front of second base. I was just trying to get back.”
The Trojans (5-6, 3-3 conference) next five batters all reached base — resulting in a PW pitching change — and RBI hits from Andrew Seitz, Eddie Fortescue and Ben Maltin extended their lead to 7-1.
“I think we didn’t respond in many situations in terms of getting guys out when we needed to, making the right pitches when we needed to,” Manero said, noting that the play at second wasn’t the reason. “I don’t think it’s really different than any other baseball situation. It’s just responding or getting timely hits or timely plays in the field has been an issue for us.”
“I’m just happy I could start up a four-run inning,” Shilling said. “It always feels good to get the team going.”
Shilling has always been a hard-nosed, electric player.
“Matt’s the kind of kid, you just let him do his thing,” Bernhardt said. “Obviously I step in when I have to … He’s the kind of kid you don’t hold back. You let him do his thing and let him play his game and you can see the benefits you get from him. He’s just hard-nosed. He’s going all-out all the time. Whatever he has to do to help us get a win, he’s doing it.”
Bernhardt said Shilling was hitting near .700 this season before the PW game and he went 2-for-4 in the win with three runs scored and a walk. Shilling, a Hartford Community College commit, started the season in the leadoff spot and is now hitting in the three-hole.
“I’m not trying to kill the ball,” he said of his success. “I’m just trying to put a nice swing on it and hit singles.
“I’ve hit first, second, third, fourth. Just trying to get the most RBIs I can. Settle for three now. I like batting behind Alex (Tappen). It’s kind of pick your poison, Alex or me.”
The 7-1 lead after five innings was more than enough for pitcher Trey France. He threw a complete game. He allowed seven hits, struck out seven batters and walked zero.
Steve Loden went 3-for-5 from the plate. He had two doubles and four RBI.
“Stevie’s getting into it,” Bernhardt said. “He started off really slow … He’s just locked in (now). He’s having really good at-bats, letting the ball work in on him and he’s having productive at-bats and we’re getting runs in when he’s hitting, which is huge.”
The Colonials (2-7, 1-5) scored their two runs on a solo Drew Kliesh home run and a Mangan triple followed by a Brad Krenicky RBI single.
PW sits in last place in the SOL American Conference, but still has hope with half the season remaining.
“One thing we’re trying to focus on now is bigger picture things that are maybe effecting our performance,” Manero said. “Things that we’re doing before games, things we’re doing after games, things that we’re doing while we’re not in the middle of the action in the game. We work hard on things. We want to execute. We want to get hits. We want to make plays defensively. We want to throw strikes. But it’s getting to the point now where we are thinking maybe there are things we need to do differently as a team.
“Coming into today’s game, three of our four (league) losses were by a combined four runs. We told the guys, think about it, you’re four runs away from being 4-1 in the league instead of 1-4. Today doesn’t fit into that mold, but we don’t want to abandon that thought. We might be a 1-5 team in the league, but it’s not beyond saving at this point.”
NOTES >> Wissahickon center fielder Maltin made a number of diving and sliding catches to steal extra base hits from Colonial batters.
Wissahickon 12, PW 2
Wissahickon 210 040 5 — 12
Plymouth Whitemarsh 001 000 1 — 2
TOP PHOTO: Wissahickon’s Matt Shilling at Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Jack Mangan collide at second base. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)