HORSHAM >> Perk Valley did all the little things right Friday afternoon.
Pitcher Tyler Strechay threw strikes, the defense made the plays behind him and the offense manufactured just enough to lift the No. 7 seed Vikings over No. 2 Hatboro-Horsham, 2-1, in the District 1-6A quarterfinals at Hatboro-Horsham High School.
The win clinches what is believed to be Perk Valley’s first trip to states in school history.
PV’s defense needed to make big plays in each of the final two innings to preserve the one-run lead.
Hatters’ Brian Edgington led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double off the left field fence. One of the team’s best bunters — Jake Mayson — was called upon to pinch hit. He missed the bunt and Perk Valley catcher Matt Szczesny fired the ball to second base to pick off Edgington for the first out.
“I told Matt after the game — that’s the game right there,” PV coach Ryan Hinkle said. “You have a runner on second base, nobody out … Matt is just a hell of a catcher behind the plate. He’s got great instincts. He sees things that sometimes I don’t see, which is awesome to have out of your catcher.”
“It happened,” Hatboro-Horsham coach Pete Moore said. “It’s something that in the game of baseball you’re going to have mistakes that happen. It’s a kid that I want out there and I want out there next time. I know he’s going to learn from that and he’s going to be better and there’s nobody that’s taking it harder than he is right now … I’ll go to battle with that kid any day. You see right before that he puts the ball off the fence, almost tied the game.”
In the sixth inning, HH’s Ryan O’Donnell hit a two-out double with the bases empty. Eric Jester followed with a groundball up the middle that looked like it was going to get through the infield and tie the game. PV shortstop Joe Gorla covered a ton of ground to get to the ball and throw Jester out at first to end the inning.
For all seven innings, it was Strechay keeping Hatboro-Horsham under control. The sophomore allowed just one unearned run over seven innings on eight hits. He had no strikeouts or walks.
“I just feel comfortable throwing all my pitches,” Strechay said, crediting his defense. “Spotting up, throwing strikes. That’s what I have to focus on and the defense will do the rest for me.”
Both of the Vikings runs came from smart baseball. In the second inning, DJ Jampo led off by reaching on an error. Mark Ott bunted him to second and Brock Helverson singled him home to take a 1-0 lead.
That was one of Ott’s three sacrifice bunts in the game. His second put runners on second and third with one out in the fourth and the third put a runner on second with two outs in the sixth, but all three were stranded.
“It just happened to be that every situation (Ott) was up there was a perfect situation to lay down a bunt,” Hinkle said. “As far as the bunting part of the game, I give all the credit to my assistant coach Miller today at third base. He really runs a tight ship and made a lot of great calls today to put us in the best position possible to push runs across. Even though we only put two across, we had a lot of innings we were threatening.”
Ryan McCourt led off the top of the third for PV with a double. He advanced to third on a grounder to first and scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 Vikings.
The Hatters cut that in half in the bottom of the fourth. O’Donnell singled and got to second on an error. Two batters later he scored on an Edgington single.
Hatboro-Horsham had plenty of chances to score. The Suburban One League American Conference champs left runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings.
“We seemed to get our scoring chances with two outs,” Moore said. “We need to do a better job of getting that leadoff man on. It’s not like we’re not trying. Guys are leading off innings and want to get on base. Once they get on base it opens up our offense as a team, we can do a few more things. It’s tough when you wait til two outs before you get something going.”
Colin Kennedy took the loss for the Hatters. He struck out two batters and walked two batters over seven innings. He gave up six hits and two runs — one earned.
Perk Valley advances to the district semifinals where it faces No. 6 North Penn Tuesday.
The Hatters enter the playback bracket to try to earn District 1’s fifth and final state tournament spot. They will need to win two games next week to qualify for states.
“We’ve got a team full of seniors that wants to keep playing together,” Moore said. “I don’t think that can be talked about enough. They want to keep this thing going because they know they’re not all playing legion together, they’re not playing together next year. We’ve got eight seniors in the batting order that really want to keep fighting for each other to be able to continue their careers together. I like our chances with what we’ve got going for us next week.”
Perk Valley 2, Hatboro-Horsham 1
Perk Valley 011 000 0 — 2
Hatboro-Horsham 000 100 0 — 1
WP: Tyler Strechay 7 IP 0 K 0 BB 8 H 1 R 0 ER.
LP: Colin Kennedy 7 IP 2 K 2 BB 6 H 2 R 1 ER.
2B: PV-Ryan McCourt. HH-Eric Jester, Ryan O’Donnell, Brian Edgington.
Top Photo: Perkiomen Valley pitcher Tyler Strechay winds up for a pitch during the Vikings’ District 1-6A quarterfinal against Hatboro-Horsham on Friday, May 26, 2017. (Rachel Wisniewski/For Digital First Media)