By Owen McCue
POTTSGROVE >> Despite his team’s No. 11 seed, Bishop Shanahan head coach Ron Savastio think his team can make a deep playoff run.
His reason? Freshman pitcher Devon Miller.
“I think we can go far, I really do,” Savastio said. “On her back.”
Miller showed why in Bishop Shanahan’s 4-2 upset of No. 6 Pottsgrove in Wednesday’s PIAA District 1-AAA playoff game at Pottsgrove High School.
The freshman righthander gave up two runs in seven innings and allowed three hits and struck out 13 batters in her first career district playoff game. Bishop Shanahan will travel to play No. 3 Upper Moreland on Friday.
“I felt really strong today,” Miller said. “I had a nice break in between the regular season and playoff games, and I think it really helped.”
Not everything was easy for Miller.
Pottsgrove trailed 4-1 after the first inning. The Falcons waited until the bottom of the sixth inning to make a final push to tie the game. Centerfielder Olivia Klaptosky started the inning by reaching base on an error. First baseman Rachel Cherubini followed with a base hit and a steal to put runners on second and third with no outs.
After Klaptosky was tagged out on groundball to third base, Jenna Trythall knocked a single into left field to load the bases with one out. Miller struck out Livezey to get the second out of the inning, but catcher Katy Newton couldn’t handle the high pitch and Cherubini scored, making the score 4-2 with two outs and two runners still on base.
With runners on second and third, shortstop Kelsey Hochstuhl almost snuck a groundball through the infield to keep the rally alive, but Eagles’ shortstop Ava Dukiewicz backhanded the ball cleanly to her right and made a strong throw across the infield for the last out of the inning.
“We talk about playing an entire seven innings and not focusing on that one or two bad innings,” Pottsgrove head coach Julie Davis said. “We just kept at it, but unfortunately we didn’t get that solid hit that we needed.”
With her ace Gabi Ermish sidelined with an injury for the latter portion of the season, Davis sent Trythall to the circle to start Wednesday’s game.
Bishop Shanahan tagged Trythall for four hits in the top of the first inning. Eagles’ third baseman Marley Weston knocked in two runs with a single and designated player Alexis Peterson followed with a two-run double to right center, giving Bishop Shanahan a 4-0 lead.
Kira Livezey came in for the Falcons to start the second inning and held Bishop Shanahan scoreless the rest of the way. Livezey totaled four strikeouts and allowed one hit in six innings of work.
“I guess we just timed her right and we had some good hits in the beginning,” Miller said of Trythall. “I think the second pitcher really held us well, but the four runs in the beginning were just enough.”
Pottsgrove responded to Bishop Shanahan’s four-run first inning by scoring a run of its own. Trythall, who went 2-for-3 and reached base in all three of her plate appearances, knocked in a run on a single to right.
Besides the first and sixth innings, the only other trouble for Miller was in the fourth. Miller hit a batter and committed an error on Trythall’s ground ball back to her to put two runners on with one out, but she struck out the next two batters to avoid any damage.
“It was a good game,” Savastio said. “I really enjoyed it. It gave me a heart attack, but I enjoyed it.”
The Falcons end the season with an 11-10 overall record. The team finished sixth in the PAC-10 regular season standings with a 10-8 record that included wins against Perkiomen Valley and Methacton.
“We’ve had a lot of character testing moments,” Davis said of the season. “We beat (Perkiomen Valley) in the beginning of the season … that was a real high moment. Then we lost our No. 1 pitcher and had to regroup and make some decisions of where people are going to play. We did that and turned around and beat Methacton.”
NOTES>> Pottsgrove second baseman Cori Dickinson was hit twice in the game, once on her leg and once on her hand. … Along with her strong pitching effort, Miller also went 2-for-3 and scored a run for Bishop Shanahan.