BOYERTOWN – Pennsbury’s first win in PIAA action this year was an extra-inning walkoff over District 11 runner-up Parkland a week ago at Boyertown High Bears Stadium. Its second state triumph was a shutout over District 1 rival Perk Valley.
Back at Bears Stadium today (Monday, June 12), the Falcons walloped D11 champ Bethlehem Liberty, 12-0, in a state semifinal duel shortened to five innings by the Mercy Rule. Pennsbury is finding a way to get it done in states in a variety of ways.
“Our only plan is to win,” said Falcons head coach Joe Pesci. “It’s to win by coming from behind in a walkoff, it’s to win scoring two runs, it’s to win scoring 12 runs.”
Due for an offensive outburst after winning its first two state playoffs by a combined 5-1 score, Pennsbury pummeled the opposition in this one.
“I challenged them before the game to score some runs,” added Pesci. “We’ve been eking by – tiptoeing by – and they rose to the occasion and scored a bunch of runs today.”
The Falcons enter their first state championship contest ever in baseball against District 3 champion Dallastown, a 6-1 winner over District 6 champ State College, at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The way this game started, it was hard to imagine a 12-0 final outcome. Hurricanes starter Alex Super – who entered the contest with a 1.12 ERA, retired Pennsbury in order in the first inning while Falcons starter Billy Bethel saw five of the first 10 batters reach base.
Here’s the thing – not one of the Liberty baserunners crossed the plate.
With men on second and third base in the bottom of the first inning, Bethel fanned first baseman Mike Perreault for the final out. In the second, with Pennsbury on top 1-0 and runners at first and second, he got number nine hitter Ben Piripavel to take a called third strike then induced a ground ball to short to leadoff man Kyle Hlavaty to end the inning.
The Falcons then made the ‘Canes pay for the runners left in scoring position. Boy, did they ever.
In the top of the third, in a nine-run explosion, Pennsbury sent 13 batters to the plate and strung together seven consecutive singles including run-scoring hits by designated hitter Dave Murphy, shortstop Ryan McCarty, first baseman Kyle Dear, catcher Josh Tesarck and leadoff hitter Tyrone Hodges Jr.
Dear’s 2-run gapper to right-centerfield with the bases loaded put the Falcons on top, 5-0 and Tesarck’s single up the middle made it 6-0.
A ground ball tapped to first base by centerfielder Vaughn Ward may have turned into a doubleplay but Perreault threw the ball over second base and Piripavel tossed the relay passed third, allowing two more runs to score.
A hit by Hodges pushed the score to 9-0 and an error made on Billy Bethel’s grounder to third base initiated the Mercy Rule.
In the top of the fifth inning, Pennsbury pushed two more runs across the plate, with third baseman Nick Price reaching on a one-out single to left field, going to third on Liberty’s fourth error in the game and scoring on Vaughn Ward’s single to right field. Pinchrunner Gary Minnes also scored on the play after the ‘Canes outfielder bobbled the ball out in right.
Bethel, meanwhile, settled down and scattered three hits over the last three innings including a two-out double by Liberty catcher Jared Burcin in the bottom of the fifth. But even Bucin was left stranded when Bethel induced a fly ball to centerfield by Elias Gross for the final out.
“We knew they were the best hitting team that we thought we were going to see through the (state) playoffs. You saw early on, they hit the ball hard,” explained Pesci. “But, Billy is also an equalizer.”
The ‘Canes, ranked number three in the state, came into the PIAA semifinal with wins in 17 of their last 18 contests – the only loss was to Parkland in the EPC Championship, one that was avenged in the D11 title tilt. Super, who entered the duel at 5-0 with 56 strikeouts and just 10 runs allowed in 50 innings pitched, looked a mere mortal in this one.
The Falcons have a way of doing that to a pitcher and that’s just one of the reasons they’re moving on.
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury senior Billy Bethel comes sliding across home plate with the first of nine runs for the Falcons in the third inning. Pennsbury pounded D11 champ Liberty 12-0 in five innings June 12 at Bears Stadium in Boyertown to earn a spot in the upcoming PIAA Class 6A Championship Friday at Penn State. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
PIAA Class 6A Semifinal
Pennsbury 12, Liberty 0
(June 12 at Boyertown)
LIBERTY (25-4) 000 00 – 0 7 4
PENNSBURY (20-6) 019 20 – 12 12 1
WP — Billy Bethel (9-2) 5IP, 0R, 7H, 0BB, 3SO; LP — Alex Super (5-1) 4IP, 12R, 2BB, 2SO.
MULTIPLE HITS: L — Elias Gross 2-for-3, Jake Wagner 2-for-2; P — Justin Massielo 2-for-4, Ryan McCarty 2-for-3, Nick Price 2-for-2.
DOUBLES: L — Jared Burcin; P — none.
RBI: L — none; P — Tyrone Hodges Jr., Dave Murphy, McCarty, Kyle Dear 3, Josh Tesarck, Vaughn Ward.
RUNS: L — none; P — Hodges, Billy Bethel, Massielo, Murphy 2, McCarty, Price 2, Dear 2, Tesarck, V. Ward.