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Hot start doesn’t hold up for Souderton against Bensalem in District 1-6A quarters

BENSALEM >> No. 13 Souderton’s District 1 Class 6A championship dreams came to an end Friday afternoon with a 6-3 loss to No. 5 Bensalem in the quarterfinals at Bensalem High School.

Early on, it looked like they’d still have thoughts of a district title over Memorial Day Weekend.

Conlan Wall led off the top of the first inning with a double and — after a couple outs — Blaise Sclafani hit a two-run home run to put the Indians on the board.

“He threw me a first pitch curveball,” Sclafani said. “He has a great curveball — a lot of up-and-down action. Then right after that I expected a fastball. I figured he’d try to blow one right by me after making a big hack at (the curveball). I just got the barrel right on it and it flew right off. It felt really good to hit that one and get us right up top, get everyone really hype. It was definitely a big point for us to start off the game strong.”

Unfortunately for Souderton, that’s all it would get until the seventh inning. After two runs on two hits in the first, they managed just one run on four hits over the final six innings.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do in the beginning,” Souderton coach Mike Childs said. “Go at them, attack them and knock them down a little bit. We did that right from the beginning, but I think we got a little over-confident in that first inning to a point where it actually hurt us. These guys have to learn — a lot of new guys to the playoffs, especially extended playoffs — we have to learn to ease your enthusiasm, keep it within your team and stay focused. That was a first inning game with six more innings to go.”

“We definitely got too cocky,” Sclafani said. “We got too full of ourselves and that’s not something we can have as a team. We all have to be humble and hungry all the time.”

Bensalem took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Brian Swentkowski had an RBI triple, Keith Parrish an RBI squeeze play and Nick Dean came around on an error to give the Owls a lead they’d never lose.

“We deflated after they came back,” Childs said. “They scored that third run and they popped our balloon. That’s just what happened. We cannot do that in playoffs.”

The Owls added one run in reach of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to take a 6-2 lead into the seventh. Dom Grady had an RBI single in the fourth, Nick Fossile a bases-loaded walk in the fifth and Scott Rooney a bases loaded walk in the sixth.

In all, Souderton pitchers walked six batters and the defense made three errors — all of which led to runs.

“Once that first error happens and then another hit happens and another walk happens,” Sclafani said, “it’s just a consistent chain of events. It’s just going to keep happening. We always need to stay on top of our game. This is playoff baseball. We know we can’t be making those sort of mistakes and stay on top of everything we do.”

Souderton scored its third and final run in the top of the seventh when Billy Norbeck singled and pinch runner Hogan Despain scored on an error.

Aaron Groller started for the Indians and went three innings. He struck out two batters to one walk and surrendered four runs on six hits.

Jordan Morales came on in relief and had three strikeouts and three walks in 2 1/3 innings while allowing two runs on one hit. Andrew Curran and Brian Janetka each recorded one out in the sixth inning.

While Bensalem advances to the district semifinals, Souderton will be fighting for the fifth and final District 1 spot in the Class 6A state playoffs. The Indians will need to win Tuesday and Thursday to extend their season.

“We have to play like we play our best baseball,” Childs said. “These guys’ goal is to get into states and see how we go from there, but now we just made our road a lot harder.”

“We were super hyped for this game,” Sclafani said. “We really wanted to come out and hopefully go to states this game. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So we’re going to come out Tuesday even hungrier than we were today.”

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