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Murphy’s Law: Nanticoke 3B keys PIAA first-round win as Upper Perk bats cool at wrong time

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> Nanticoke third baseman Megan Murphy got more than she bargained for.

“I just go up there and think singles,” the senior said. “My team needs singles and I know if I get on base with a single, my team will be here to back me up. We worked this week in practice on short, quick hands because it’s the state playoffs and we’re not going to be seeing slow pitchers.”

Murphy may have been thinking singles, but that’s not what she got. Instead, Murphy carried a big bat as the No. 5 hitter hit a home run and doubled before scoring the winning run in the ninth inning of Nanticoke’s 4-3 extra-inning victory over Upper Perkiomen in a PIAA Class 4A first-round game Monday at Methacton.

Nanticoke’s Megan Murphy rounds third base after her solo home run in the second inning against Upper Perkiomen (Austin Hertzog – DFM)

Murphy was 2-for-4 with two RBI to key the Trojanettes’ offense in support of winning pitcher Miranda Bohn, who allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits to go with five strikeouts and zero walks.

The hard-throwing left-hander came up with the goods to outlast Upper Perk’s own standout pitcher, Taylor Lindsay, who surrendered four earned runs in eight hits with seven strikeouts.

Game respects game and in the aftermath of season-ending defeat, Lindsay pointed to Bohn’s excellence as the game’s difference-maker.

“The pitching was definitely different than what we’ve seen so far,” Lindsay said. “In the PAC, we didn’t see anything like that.”

Upper Perkiomen’s Taylor Lindsay delivers to the plate against Nanticoke during a PIAA 4A first round game Monday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Nanticoke’s Miranda Bohn delivers to the plate against Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – DFM)

Upper Perkiomen ends the season 17-5 overall and with a second-straight District 1 4A championship, but was left to rue the cooling of their bats when it counted most.

“We expected a better outcome,” UP coach Dean Sullivan said. “We just didn’t hit two games in a row. We came out a little flat with the bats and we’ll just have to move on from it.

“I’m losing four great seniors — Karlee Fretz, Alyssa Sullivan, Autumn Gahman and Taylor Lindsay. It’s a growing experience. Hopefully the underclassmen watched and saw how entertaining this was and know what to expect going forward.”

Nanticoke, the District 2 runners-up following an 11-inning defeat to Tunkhannock in the district final, advanced to face East Pennsboro in the second round on Thursday.

“That district final was probably the best we’ve played, and we lost. We were devastated,” Murphy said. “But it was a great game and we felt like we could come in (to states) as the underdogs. No one thought we’d make it this far. My freshman year we made it to the state tournament and that has pushed and motivated us. Now we’re back again my senior year.”

Upper Perkiomen’s Kelsey Bernhart, left, gets a hug from catcher Morgan Lindsay after hitting a home run in the second inning against Nanticoke during a PIAA 4A first round game Monday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Upper Perk had an answer for every Nanticoke run until the ninth inning.

Murphy opened the scoring in the second inning with her solo homer, a liner to left-center, for a 1-0 lead.

But the Tribe replied with a two-run home run from Kelsey Bernhart to right-center, for a 2-1 lead in the second inning.

“That was awesome,” Sullivan said of Bernhart’s home run. “It was great for her. She was a player I didn’t expect a lot from this year. In the preseason we talked and I told her she would be first off the bench and here she was batting in the 7-hole and starting every game because she earned it.”

Nanticoke regained the lead with a two-run third inning. Lindsay struggled with her command for a stretch and hit two batters before Jilann Baron hit an RBI single and Murphy beat out a potential inning-ending double play to first base to plate another run to make it 3-2.

The Tribe tied it in the fifth on a Jenna Sullivan single and stolen base before Morgan Lindsay’s RBI single down the left-field line.

That’s how it would stay as Bohn and Lindsay really settled in — the Upper Perk ace set down 13 in a row between the fourth and eighth innings, thanks in part to some great defensive plays by centerfielder Alexa Banner and second baseman Gail Kooser.

Upper Perkiomen center fielder Alexa Banner, center, is congratulated by teammates Kelsey Bernhart, left, and Jenna Sullivan after making a diving catch in deep centerfield to end the seventh inning against Nanticoke during a PIAA 4A first round game Monday at Methacton. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Murphy keyed the final breakthrough in the top of the ninth with a leadoff double. Lindsay struck out the next two batters but Nanticoke left fielder Madison Stashak ripped the first pitch she saw up the middle to score Murphy and take the lead for good before Bohn set the Tribe down 1-2-3 in the ninth to win it.

Despite the disappointment, the last two seasons have proven a turning point for Upper Perkiomen softball.

“My first two years of varsity were building years, but especially these last two years, we got it going,” Taylor Lindsay said. “I think it started when we got new coaches; they’ve helped us out a lot and really believe in us. All the girls, we all like each other, we’re all friends so it’s been a great experience.”

Nanticoke 4, Upper Perkiomen 3

NANTICOKE                    UPPER PERKIOMEN

                     ab   r  h bi                       ab   r  h bi

Rakowski      3  1   0  0    JSullivan     4  1  1  0

Bohn              4  0   1  0    MLindsay     4  0  1  1

Sobeck          3  1   1  0    KFretz           4  0  1  0

Baron             4  0   1  1    TLindsay      4  0  1  0

Murphy          4  2   2  2    ASullivan     4  0  0  0

King               4  0   1  0    SFretz           4  1  0  0

Redenski       3  0   0  0    Bernhart       4  1  1  2

Stashak         4  0   1  1    Banner         3  0  1  0

Skladzien      0  0   0  0    Kooser         2  0  0  0

Kurkoski        4  0   1  0    Croak           1  0  0  0

O’Connor       0  0   0  0    Gahman       0  0  0  0

Nice               0  0   0  0

Totals          33  4   8  4    Totals        34  3   6 3

Nanticoke                          012 000 001      — 4
Upper Perkiomen             020 010 000     — 5

E — Nanticoke 1; Upper Perkiomen 0. 2B —Murphy. HR — Murphy; Bernhart. SB — J. Sullivan.

                                   IP     H    R   ER   BB  SO

Nanticoke

Bohn (W)                   9.0     6     3      1      0     5

Upper Perkiomen

  1. Lindsay (L) 9.0 8     4      4      0     7

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