WHITEMARSH >> Start fast and finish strong. Those are two things that every team wants to do.
Wissahickon did both Thursday afternoon.
The Trojans scored three runs in the first inning and two in the bottom of the sixth to win their Suburban One League American Conference opener, 5-4, over Plymouth Whitemarsh on a windy day at Colonials Field.
Brian Haynes got hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the sixth for Wissahickon, which was the home team despite playing on PW’s field. He stole second and scored on JT Culp’s RBI double to tie the game. Eddie Fortescue singled to put runners on the corners and, after a strikeout, Steve Loden stepped to the plate with two outs.
“There’s not another guy that I’ve coached in my whole career. I want Steve Loden up,” Wissahickon coach Andy Noga said. “Everybody in our dugout wants Steve Loden up. He was the right man to do the job for us. I have confidence in him. I know our guys have confidence in him, too.”
Loden delivered with a single through the right side of the infield to give the Trojans a 5-4 lead.
“It got the job done,” Loden said. “It wasn’t the best barrelled-up, but the Good Lord blessed it, I guess, and it found a hole.”
Mike Gorman recorded two quick outs in the top of the seventh before walking a batter to put the tying run on base.
He got the third and final out of the game on a grounder to shortstop, where Loden calmly scooped the ball and made the throw to first.
Gorman came on in relief in the fifth inning. He inherited runners on first and second with two outs and Wissahickon trailing, 4-3. He got out of it without allowing another run and had a perfect sixth inning.
“It was good to have him come in and close it,” Noga said. “I came up to him in the fifth inning and I was like, ‘You’re going to get the ball at some point, do you want the ball?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, coach, I want the ball.’ I knew he wanted it. I knew he was going to go out there and go all out. It was good to get his feet wet out there. That was his first varsity win, first varsity inning. It was exciting for him and I was excited for him.”
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Tyler Caso walked before Loden and Brian Menhardt singled to load the bases with no outs. After a fielder’s choice, Bobby McFarland worked a walk to score a run and, with two outs, Michael Steitz hit a two-run double.
“We were just getting on them early,” Loden said. “We got some good rolls, (Menhardt’s) bunt worked for us and we took care of mistakes. (PW pitcher Brett Bottinger) made a couple mistakes in the first inning and we took care of them.”
The three-run advantage held until the fourth inning. PW’s Stephen Longo hit an RBI triple and scored on a passed ball to get within one, 3-2.
“It was a great baseball game,” PW coach Chris Manero said. “We fell down early. I was really impressed with the way we came back. Longo had that big hit. It was sort of the same thing we did (in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Upper Moreland) — got a couple big hits when we needed it. Today we just couldn’t hold it. Sometimes that’s going to happen.”
In the fifth, Ben Mascio tied the game with a sacrifice fly and Longo singled in a run to give PW its 4-3 advantage.
Bottinger started for the Colonials (2-2, 1-1) and really settled in after the rocky first inning. He allowed three runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out nine and walked three.
“He definitely settled in,” Manero said. “I think he needed to feel control of his off-speed stuff. Once he got in his groove, we saw what we were hoping to see. Put that first inning aside, I think we’re encouraged having Ben Mascio and Brett at the top of our rotation. It should give the rest of our team some pretty good confidence.”
Steve Blum took the loss for PW. He allowed two runs on three hits in one inning.
Quinn Rovner started for Wissahickon. He threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out six batters and walked three.
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