GRATERFORD >> Perkiomen Valley found itself on solid ground Monday afternoon.
And that’s not only because they had their ace on the mound.
Less than 24 hours after their infield was almost entirely under water due to rain in the area all last week, the Vikings used a solid outing from starting pitcher Brock Helverson on the way to a 5-4 win over Council Rock South during the opening round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
On a day where his starting pitcher had some of his best stuff and struck out 11 hitters over six innings, Perk Valley head coach Ryan Hinkle gave most of the credit to his coaching staff.
“My assistant Andrew Miller was out here four, five hours working on the field yesterday,” said Hinkle. “He pumped a couple hundred gallons of water off the field, funneled it out of here. I’ve got to give him and the grounds crew here all the credit.
“It’s a miracle that we were able to be out here and play today.”
With the win, No. 19-seeded Perk Valley (13-7 overall) advances to the second round of districts with a matchup against No. 3 Downingtown West looming on Wednesday. Council Rock South, the No. 19 seed, saw its season come to a finish at 8-11 overall.
“I had it working today,” said Helverson, who let up two runs on just six hits and three walks in his 102-pitch outing. “I was going into each at-bat and attacking with my fastball then throwing a slider in there — shaking things up for them a little bit.”
After Helverson caught the first three batters of the game looking at strike three, Perk Valley’s hitters spotted the West Virginia commit all the help he’d need with a four-run first inning off CR South starter Brendon Carter. Perk Valley put its first six batters on base, accounting for four of the team’s six hits on the game.
Leadoff man AJ Hansen opened it up for PV with a walk, then moved over to third on shortstop Joe Gorla’s double to left before coming in to score on Helverson’s single to left. Gorla then came in to score a batter later on Kyle Bohannon’s RBI double to right before Zach Hollenbach hit a bases-loaded RBI single to make it 3-0. Three batters later, catcher Brian McMonigle was hit by a pitch to make it 4-0.
“A lot of the season we’ve been slow to start then pick it up late,” said Gorla, who later delivered a key RBI double in the bottom of the fourth inning. “We wanted to attack early in the count and barrel one up. It was good to jump ahead — gives Brock confidence and lets us play stress-free.”
For the most part, the game was stress-free for the Vikings minus a few stretches.
CR South second baseman Matt Smith led off the top of the fourth inning with a single to center, then worked his way over to third base where he scored on a wild pitch. An inning later, Smith delivered another single back up the middle, scoring designated hitter Evan Fisher from second base to make it 5-2.
Then a couple innings later, the stress level got to the max.
With one out and a man on in the top of the seventh inning, South first baseman Chris Gallo crushed a pitch well over the wall in left field to make it 5-4.
From there, though, Perk Valley reliever Zach Hollenbach settled in and got the next two hitters on a groundout and a strikeout to close out the Vikings’ third straight win.
Though pleased with the outcome, Hinkle admits he’d like to see more out of his hitters.
“We fell asleep a little bit offensively,” he said. “We put up four (in the first) but then came out in the second inning and went 1-2-3. We left the bases loaded twice. That’s stuff that you’ve got to take advantage of when you’re in district play. We can’t leave runners on base and expect to win games.”
After what his coach described as a “nightmarish start,” Hawks starter Carter settled in and got into form for South through the rest of his outing.
The senior right-hander pitched into the fourth inning and had seven strikeouts against two walks.
“Once he got settled in, that’s the Brendon that we all know,” said C.R. South manager Ted Kirner. “He’s given me everything he can for four years. His desire to want to compete and excel is unmatched. He got us here, we knew there was no one better to put out there.”
Lefty reliever Jake Barder pitched the final 2-1/3 innings where he walked two and struck out four.
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