SOUDERTON >> Quakertown had a chance to land the first punch against Souderton Friday night.
The Blue Jays had runners on first and third with no outs in a scoreless game in the top of the second inning.
Souderton pitcher Luke Taylor had other plans.
Taylor struck out the side to leave the runners stranded and struck out the side again in the top of the third.
Post 234’s offense took that momentum to the bottom of the third and scored four runs to jump-start a 7-1 win at Romanoski Field in the Bux-Mont Legion playoffs.
“Just tried to throw first-pitch strikes, get the ball in play,” Taylor said of the early situation. “Luckily struck them out. Wasn’t expecting that, but it worked out nice. I didn’t really change anything, just kept trying to work.”
“That was probably the big point right there,” Quakertown manager Bob Helm said. “It gave them a little life. It kept their confidence and they ended up getting that big inning.”
Blaise Sclafani led off the bottom of the third inning with a triple for Souderton. He scored on a Kyle Lennon bunt single to make it 1-0.
Luke Barnum reached on an error before scoring — along with Lennon — on a Nolan Bolton triple.
“I was sitting curveball,” Bolton, who scored on a Moses Clemens squeeze bunt, said. “I saw the curveball the first AB with the hit-by-pitch and then the second AB I was up 2-0 and he threw one curveball. I saw another curveball next pitch, sat on it and connected well with it. It felt good.
“We work on positive energy. If we’re down we don’t do well. Whenever we’re up we play well, hit well and play as a team. It’s good when we get up early.”
The Blue Jays cut into the lead in the top of the fifth, when Justin Guidos hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on an error and scored on a Jake Reed sacrifice fly.
Souderton crushed any ideas of a comeback quickly. In the bottom of the fifth Lennon and Bolton sandwiched walks around a Barnum single to load the bases with no outs. Clemens scored Lennon when he was hit by a pitch, Taylor grounded out to plate Barnum and Bolton came around on a David Gulibon sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 7-1.
While the offense was scoring, Taylor was mowing down the Blue Jays lineup. In 5.1 innings, the right-hander struck out 10 batters to one walk and allowed one run on five hits.
“My location,” Taylor credited for his success. “I wasn’t really over-powering, but strong first strikes. I was struggling in the beginning but picked up with the first-pitch strikes in the end. That helped.”
Gulibon recorded the final five outs, walking one batter to no strikeouts and no hits.
Matt Ciarrochi started for Quakertown. He allowed seven runs on four hits in four innings. He walked three batters to one strikeout.
The win sends Souderton to the winner’s bracket final, where it will face the winner of Hatfield-Towamencin and Perkiomen at Quakertown at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
“It’s huge (to beat Quakertown and stay in the winner’s bracket),” Bolton said. “We want to get to the championship. We want to get to the next round. As long as we can save arms and hopefully get to Monday we’ll be good.”
The loss sends Quakertown to the loser’s bracket, where it will face Pennridge at 1 p.m. Saturday at Quakertown.
“You have to win three games in two days now to get to Monday,” Helm said of his team’s chances to reach the championship. “That makes it a little rougher. You need to win five games from here on out.”