GRATERFORD >> A little time away may have proven to be just what the doctor ordered for the Perkiomen Valley baseball team.
Coming off seven full days of rest since their previous game — an opening-round loss against Spring-Ford in the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs last Tuesday — the Vikings looked refreshed and renewed Wednesday afternoon.
With a shuffle in the lineup and a spark in the third inning, Perkiomen Valley secured a 2-1 win over Garnet Valley during the second round of the District One Class 6A playoffs at PV High School.
“We were all psyched for this game,” said third baseman Dylan Boyd, who drove in PV’s lone runs on a two-run single in the bottom of the third inning. “We were thinking about this game all day long, all week long. Actually, ever since we lost to Spring-Ford.”
The win sets No. 7 Perk Valley (14-6 overall) up with a date Friday night against No. 2 Hatboro-Horsham, a 5-4 winner over Avon Grove, on Friday. Tenth-seeded Garnet Valley’s season comes to a finish at 12-5.
For the most part, Garnet Valley starter Will Wesolowski had PV’s number throughout. Hardly overpowering, the junior right-hander mixed in an array of off-speed pitches that helped him go toe-to-toe with Perk Valley starter and West Virginia commit Brock Helverson.
Weselowski pitched all six innings where he held PV to just five hits and a walk.
“He’s got a lot of guts,” said Garnet head coach Rudy Shiller of Wesolowski. “He doesn’t throw it the hardest but he puts it where he wants to. He can locate any of his pitches for strikes, which makes him so effective. He mixes it up just enough to hardly let guys square it up.”
Boyd’s bases-loaded shot to right field in the bottom of the third inning was among the hardest hit balls Wesolowski let up all afternoon. Left fielder Ryan McCourt and second baseman Anthony D’Abbene both came around to score on the hit.
“I was sitting fastball all the way,” said Boyd, who took a hack at the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. “He had just walked the guy (Joe Gorla) before me, so I knew he would be trying to control the at-bat.”
Usually hitting out of the lower half of the lineup, Boyd was slated as the clean-up hitter Wednesday. It was a decision head coach Ryan Hinkle had plenty of time to ponder over.
“Just mixing things up,” he said. “We judged it off what we saw in practice. We tried to put guys in position in the lineup where they can have the most success, Dylan is a great example of that. He produced in that 4-spot — he did a great job of taking a ball on the right side of the plate out to right field.”
Helverson was pulled after four innings after holding the Jaguars to just a pair of hits while walking two. Right-hander Tyler Strechay stumbled out of the gates in the fifth, letting two on and a run to cross on an RBI safety squeeze by Sweeney before he could record an out.
From that point on, though, he settled in. The sophomore only allowed one runner on — an error in the top of the sixth — while sitting nine of the next 10 batters down in order.
“We sent him out there to get loose pretty quickly,” said Hinkle of Strechay, “so I think that first inning he felt a little hurried and rushed.
“He had trouble locating his off-speed in that first inning. And then in the sixth and seventh, we were able to work in curveball-changeup more. That’s what helped him out and got him through it.”
The Helverson-Strechay duo combined to strand six runners on for the game — including runners on second and third in the fifth inning.
“We had those chances, both teams did,” said Shiller. “We just couldn’t find a way to come up with that big hit when we needed it most — and they (Perk Valley) did that.”
Be As It May
To date, the Vikings have only played seven games in the month of May and only two games in the past two weeks. Perk Valley had six days off before the PAC semifinal against Spring-Ford then another eight before Wednesday’s game with Garnet Valley.
“We’ve had a long rest,” said Hinkle. “We came into the day telling the guys ‘Everybody right now is 0-0. Let’s try to finish the day 1-0.’ That’s what we’re working toward from here on out.”