TREDYFFRIN — With the district playoffs commencing, it’s Conestoga’s time of year.
The Pioneers have had a lot of success in postseason play this decade, winning the PIAA Class AAAA title in 2011 and going to the state finals last season before bowing to LaSalle.
Conestoga looked ready to make another long playoff run Monday. The Pioneers got a brilliant four-hit, nine strikeout, one walk performance from star left-hander Brendon Little and pounded out 10 hits to win 9-3 over the Indians in a District 1 Class AAAA first round game.
“You expect your veteran players to step up and do the job when playoff time comes around,’ Conestoga coach John Vogan said. “And Brendon was great for us today. He pitched real well and we finally got some runs for him. Ryne Ogren got two big hits for us and Tom Fogarty got us going early with a big hit. We ran the bases well, pitched well and got hits from a lot of guys. I am really pleased with this win against a good pitcher.’
Conestoga will host Harriton, a 3-1 winner over Downingtown West, on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the second round.
The Pioneers (15-6) touched Unionville starter Pechin for four runs in the first inning to get an early lead. After Pechin got the first two men out, Ryne Ogren walked to start the rally. Len Watson then singled to put two men on with two out. Fogarty then ripped a fast ball just inside the left field line for a two-run double and a 2-0 Conestoga lead.
“I hit a fastball that was a little away,’ Fogarty said. “We all got good swings today and we went up to the plate very confident and that is the way to be. You have to feel that you can hit the baseball and not be too uptight. We feel playoff time is the time to really bring more energy.’
The Pioneers scored two more runs on RBI singles from Greyson Avots and Little, who helped himself with a single that just eluded the infield.
“I got to hit as a freshman but I have not had many chances since then,’ Little said. “It felt good to be able to take a swing and help the team and myself.’
Unionville (11-9) scored two runs in the top of the second inning when Conestoga committed two errors that led to two unearned runs to make it 4-2. The Pioneers scored a contested run in the bottom of the third when Percy Mottley slid under a tag at home plate that Unionville coach Mike Magee contested loudly. Mottley scored from second on another RBI single by Little, his second hit of the game to make it 5-2.
With Little breezing along it looked like Conestoga would win easily at that point. But in the top of the fifth inning, Eric Takoushian took a Little fastball deep over the left field fence for a leadoff home run to make it a 5-3 game.
Little bore down and got the Indians in order in the rest of the fifth inning, striking out Drew Jarmuz and Pechin to end the threat on two beautiful curveballs.
“I worked on fixing my control problems between starts and i felt real food out there today,’ Little said. “And it is playoff time so we feel that this is our time of the year and it was great to get a big win like this to start things off.’
Conestoga broke things open in the bottom of the sixth inning by scoring four runs on three hits to take a 9-3 advantage. A walk, a Unionville error and a big two run-double from Ogren as well as a two-run double to right field by Luke Czeipel did the damage for the Pioneers.
Missed opportunities dommed Unionville throughout the afternoon.
“I thought we made too many mistakes and you cannot do that against a good team,’ said Unionville coach Mike Magee. “They got the big hits and we didn’t and that was the game today.’