RED HILL >> Longtime Perkiomen School manager Ken Baker isn’t one to lose track of time.
Yet for a brief moment on Monday, even he found himself counting on his fingers.
“I had to call my secretary this morning,” he recalled with a laugh, “and asked ‘would this be 22 or 23?’”
The Perkiomen School baseball team captured its 23rd consecutive Tri-County League championship with a 7-0 win over visiting Collegium Charter.
“This continues to be one of our goals, year after year,” said Baker. “Nobody wants to be on the team that ends the streak, that’s for sure. That’s really driven these guys.”
The Panthers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the second inning off RBI hits by shortstop Zack Smith and center fielder David Smith (no relation) to give starting right-hander Nick Guadarrama all the cushion he’d need on the mound.
Offensively, Perk racked up 12 hits and seven RBI, putting a seal on it with a four-run bottom of the fifth inning.
Guadarrama was effective through the first four innings, giving way to just a pair of hits and stranding two runners on third base before turning the ball over to David Smith. Smith held Collegium hitless over the final three innings and struck out six.
“We came into this one hungry,” said Guadarrama, a member of Perk’s basketball team that lost in this past winter’s TCL Championship. “I was focused from the start — made sure I hit the strike zone and knew the defense had my back.”
The junior mixed in a fastball and a change-up to go along with a curve that bottomed out just before hitting the black of the plate. He struck out the side in the top of the second, putting a stamp on the inning by buckling a Collegium batters’ knees on a 1-2 breaking ball.
David Smith finished 2-for-3 with three RBI out of the leadoff spot while Zack Smith finished with two runs scored and an RBI. Left fielder Sam Glavin was 2-for-4 with an RBI double while third baseman Jayden Kemp finished 2-for-2 with a moonshot double to straightaway center before coming around to score in the fifth.
“We stuck to our game — got guys on base and found ways to get them around,” said David Smith. “You can’t take anything for granted. We know these guys (Collegium) are pretty good, so we’d have to come out here and do our thing.”
With Collegium entering the PIAA for the first season, head coach Dave Slusser had starting pitcher Matt Wagner on a pitch-count. Wagner was strong throughout his first 2-2/3 innings, but was pulled after limiting Perk to two runs on seven hits to go along with two strikeouts.
“Unfortunately, we had to pull him early on to save his pitches,” said Slusser.
Daniel and Matt Wagner each accounted for their team’s lone hits on the game as Collegium struck out a combined 13 times.
“I don’t even want to know how many of those were backwards K’s,” added Slusser. “We’ve got to be more aggressive in the box, especially with two strikes.”
Although they take in the runner-up finish, Slusser admits his team still has plenty to shoot for as they make one final push for a spot in the upcoming District One A playoffs. The Cougars are set to host Community Academy of Philadelphia on Tuesday.
“This is a bummer, our guys are down right now, but the season isn’t over,” he said. “We’ve got four games left. Pretty much every one of them is a must-win from here on out.”
Perkiomen gets back with a double-header against Malvern Prep on Saturday as the Panthers begin to look toward the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) playoffs, which are slated to start next week.
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