ROYERSFORD >> In their two regular season meetings, Perkiomen Valley watched as Spring-Ford pulled off late-inning comebacks. Both ended in losses.
Tuesday in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Final Four semifinals, the Vikings were finally able to flip the script.
Tied 1-1 in the top half of the eighth inning, PV third baseman Ashley Bangert delivered the clutch RBI single up the middle to break the tie and send the Vikings to the PAC Championship for the third straight season, defeating Spring-Ford 3-1 in eight innings.
“Before the game our team thought, ‘OK, they (Spring-Ford) can’t beat us three times. We’re cutting it off. That’s it,’” Bangert said. “We came up with the timely hit when we needed it and now we’re moving on.”
The Vikings, which fell to the Rams in last year’s PAC final, will face Upper Perkiomen – a 3-2 winner over Owen J. Roberts in the other semifinal – in the title game Thursday at 7 p.m. at Ram Park.
Much of that is because of the timely hit from Bangert. Much of the rest is due to the strong pitching performance from senior Abby Wild.
Wild was stellar in the circle for the Vikings, overcoming a shaky first three innings, before settling in the rest of the way. The right-hander fanned 15 batters, her changeup devastating toward Ram hitters.
“Abby did the usual,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “Playoffs, preseason, she pitches the same way. If nerves get to her, I don’t see it and that’s why she’s so valuable. She’s a rock.”
“This win feels really good, especially because we’ve had tough games against them all season.” Wild said. “It was nice to come back in and win when it matters.”
The win overshadowed a brilliant performance from Spring-Ford sophomore Sam Lindsay in the circle. Lindsay went the distance, striking out one and allowing only four hits and one earned in taking the loss. She was supplemented by the bats of Megan Kern and Ashley Della Guardia (two hits apiece, double for Kern) as the Rams failed to become the first team to repeat since Owen J. Roberts’ run of three straight from 2007-2009.
The Rams got on the board in the third inning, Della Guardia singling up the middle to score Morgan Maziarz. However, the Rams stranded runners on second and third in the frame as Wild worked out of a two-on, one-out jam by getting the next batter to fly out to center and the next to strikeout.
Sela Fusco gave Wild some support in the top of the fourth, taking a two-out pitch to right-center field for a triple to score Gillian Barrie (two hits, two runs scored).
“It was pretty nice to get everybody up and excited,” Fusco said of her hit. “It got me going too, because I was down and out and wasn’t really in the game. From that point on it just got everybody together.”
Wild and Lindsay battled through the next three frames before Bangert came through in the top of the eighth. Barrie started the inning off with a single through the right side before Alex Vullings reached on an error on her sacrifice bunt, the errant throw allowing her and Barrie to go to second and third, respectively. Bangert then eyed up a two-strike pitch over the heart of the plate and ripped it up the middle to score Barrie. Fusco then reached on an error on a bunt attempt allowing Vullings to score to pad Wild’s run cushion.
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“I was looking for an outside pitch because usually when she (Lindsay) is up 0-2, she likes to go outside. It was just right down the middle and I took advantage of it.”
Wild finished it off, a popup to Fusco in left ending it and setting off the celebration.
“We just came out here to prove ourselves,” Fusco said. “We did it.”