ROYERSFORD >> Perkiomen Valley’s Jessie Oltman dug into the box with her team down one run to Spring-Ford with two outs in the seventh inning.
The tying run stood 60-feet away as Jordan Sell leaned off third as Oltman took ball one. Digging back into the box, the junior designated player took a deep breath before waiting on the next offering.
What happened next followed the same script these two Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals have played through before.
Oltman blooped a sinking fly ball to left field, falling just inside fair territory to score Sell to tie the game before Alex Vullings delivered in the top of the ninth inning with a back-breaking three-run home run as the Vikings scored all five of their runs with two outs to down Spring-Ford 5-1 in the District 1 Class 6A semifinals Wednesday at Ram Park.
The win sends the Vikings into the District 1 final for the third straight season. They will face Avon Grove, a 2-0 winner over Coatesville in the other semifinal, in the title game for the second-straight season, Thursday at 4 p.m. at Plymouth-Whitemarsh.
“They battled today,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Dan McLaughin said. “It’s easy to relax and play hard when you’re winning, but when you’re down to your last out, that’s when you see what you’re made of.”
McLaughlin speaks from experience … for both teams. Wednesday’s tilt marked the fourth-straight game between the two rivals that was tight down to the final inning. Spring-Ford won the first two decisions, one an extra-inning win, the second stemming from a Sam Lindsay walkoff in the bottom of the seventh. That was countered by a Viking comeback win in the PAC Final Four semifinals, and then Wednesday …
“I had my whole team behind me and they were really confident in me,” Oltman said of her approach behind her game-tying hit. “I just tried to take deep breaths and be confident in myself and know that I just had to do what I knew how. I had a lot of people building me up and supporting me and that meant a lot.”
Oltman’s bloop single sparked a Viking offense that had been kept at bay by the arm of Spring-Ford starter Sam Lindsay through the first 6-2/3 innings. The team pounded out seven of their 13 hits in the final two innings, stranding runners on the corners in the eighth inning before finally breaking through in the ninth.
Sell led the inning off with a walk before she was moved over to second by a sacrifice bunt from Oltman. Following a groundout to the next batter for the second out, Jess Ott kept the Vikings’ two-out spark going, hitting a grounder through the hole that was misplayed by the center fielder to allow Sell to score to make it 2-1. Following a Gillian Barrie (4-for-5) infield single, Vullings provided the knock-out punch, lacing an offering past the left-field fence for a three-run home run and a 5-1 lead.
“I saw nothing but the ball,” Vullings said. “I owe it to everyone on the bench, everyone’s cheering. Even if they aren’t on the field they’re still cheering at my left and at my right for me to go out and do my absolute best and I did the best that I could at that moment.”
Abby Wild, who gave up one run in the first off a bunt from Sam Lindsay that scored Megan Kern, finished the Rams off with a scoreless ninth, the last two outs to Sela Fusco in left. Wild allowed only three hits in picking up the win. She struck out eight.
Ashley Bangert and Fusco finished with two hits for PV.
NOTES >> Already affirmed their berth into states, Spring-Ford will face Coatesville in the third-place game Thursday afternoon … Morgan Maziarz, Maggie McConney and Lindsay each had hits for the Rams.