W.C. East stays perfect behind Edwards

UWCHLAN — Downingtown East just needed one hit, or even a productive out or two.

West Chester East pitcher Donald Edwards needed a minor miracle.

When the latter got his wish and pulled a Houdini, the magic didn’t stop there.

Edwards got out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth inning, then watched his offense capitalize on a pair of ill-timed Cougar miscues to plate three unearned runs in the sixth, turning the tide for an 8-4 Ches-Mont League verdict on a picture-perfect spring afternoon.

Spurred by the senior pitcher’s remarkable escape, the visiting Vikings (5-0, 5-0) defeated Downingtown East (3-2, 3-2) for the second time and continued their perfect start.

“That was the turning point of the game,’ said West Chester East coach Scott Kelley. “Bases loaded, nobody out, and we end up getting out of it with no runs. That gave us all the momentum we needed going into the next inning.

“If that hadn’t happened and they had plated a couple runs, I think that would have been the nail in the coffin.’

There were still two innings to be played when the pivotal moment arrived, but the host Cougars certainly appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game wide open. Leading 4-3 after a two-run double by left fielder Ron Pellegrino in the second and run-scoring knocks from second baseman Nick Amicon and designated hitter Ryan Rumer in the third, Downingtown East put its first three men on in the bottom of the fifth. Ajjan led off with a single, and Amicon lofted a bunt just past a diving Edwards.

The next batter, catcher Spencer Cobb, laid down another bunt, which Edwards fielded on the backhand side. But when the right-hander looked to gun down the lead runner at third, pinch-runner Max Mattie was barreling down the line and nearly at the bag, forcing Edwards to eat the ball as Cobb legged out the infield hit.

With the count and the bases full, Edwards bore down. He got Rumer to bounce into a fielder’s choice, senior second baseman Colin Shirk forcing Mattie at home for the first out. Downingtown East first baseman Michael Rodriquez lofted a fly ball into shallow left, but not deep enough to send the runner from third, and Pellegrino grounded the first pitch to short, allowing the Vikings to escape unscathed.

“I’m just trying to throw a ground ball and get my players into the game,’ Edwards said. “I needed to throw strikes and get us back into the dugout. I did what I had to do.’

Momentum fully on its side, West Chester East wasted no time in taking full advantage of the Cougars’ defensive struggles. Back-to-back errors put the first two Vikings aboard in the sixth, and after Ajjan induced a fly out, senior third baseman Jimmy Maguire guided a single back up the middle, scoring classmate Eric Drew with the tying run. After a fielder’s choice, Shirk fisted an RBI single to right field and senior right fielder Pat Downey dropped a base hit into shallow left to cap a three-run frame.

“We took advantage of anything they gave us,’ Kelley said. “Any time you get a break you have to exploit it as much as you can. We’ve done an excellent job of that so far.

“We try to simplify our approach — if you have guys in scoring position understanding where to put the ball…sometimes you just need a little flare to score a couple runs. I think we had two or three of those today.’

Maguire’s two-run single to right center in the seventh gave the Vikings some insurance, though Edwards hardly needed it. Starting with his great escape, he set down the last nine Cougars he faced, punctuating the complete game with his fifth strikeout. Edwards scattered nine hits and walked one.

“It gets me a lot more relaxed out there,’ Edwards said of his team’s game-turning sixth inning. “I have more composure on the mound, and it gives me some comfort to throw some strikes.’

After senior catcher Shane Springer helped stake the Vikings to a 3-0 first-inning lead with a two-run single, Downingtown East senior pitcher Kyle Ajjan settled down in a big way, giving his offense time to wake up. It did in the second inning, when Pellegrino brought home two runs with a one-out double to right-center field.

With Ajjan dealing, the Cougars got to Edwards again in the third, tacking on two more tallies to grab a 4-3 lead. Right fielder Tonmy Marrollo and Amicon sandwiched doubles around a strikeout, the latter’s two-bagger scoring the former with the tying run.

Two batters later, Rumer punched a two-out single into right field, plating Amicon with the go-ahead marker.

But Ajjan was ultimately undone by the sixth-inning miscues, half of the Cougars’ four errors on the afternoon. He allowed seven hits and six runs (though only two were earned) with a walk and struck out eight Vikings before giving way to Rumer after the sixth.

Drew finished 2-for-4 with three runs and a stolen base to lead the West Chester East attack, while Maguire had three RBI and swiped a bag. Springer (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Downey (2-for-3, RBI) also offered multi-hit games.

“This was a big one,’ Edwards said. “Facing their ace, we knew it was going to be a tough battle. They made a couple mistakes, but we took advantage of them and we battled.’

Just as the Vikings have made a habit of in the early portion of the 2015 campaign.

“The kids we have are relentless,’ Kelley said. “Any momentum they get, they run with. That’s one of the best traits you can have in a baseball team. They haven’t sat back; they’ve taken control of every situation.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply