Upper Merion puts another beatdown on Cheltenham

UPPER MERION — For the second time in six days, Upper Merion topped Suburban One League American Conference-rival Cheltenham by double digits. The Vikings won, 12-2, Wednesday night under the lights at Walker Field.

Despite coming off a convincing victory over the Panthers last week, Upper Merion did not take its foe lightly.

“I didn’t even have to worry about getting the kids up for this game,’ manager John Whitney said. “They’ve been looking forward to it.’

“We just kept the same mentality going into this game,’ Dezerea Kandy said. “We knew it was going to be tough competition and that they were going to be stronger than they were last time. We just came in here doing the same stuff and practicing a little harder.’

The Vikings (8-2, 7-0) took over the game in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs and nobody on base, Upper Merion strung together five straight hits followed by a Cheltenham error to take a 4-0 lead.

Kandy got the hit parade started with a double.

“I knew there were two outs,’ Kandy said. “Usually I’m a leadoff hitter… I just went up there knowing I was trying to get on base and hit it.’

She scored when Olivia Sborlini followed with a single. Next, Abby Volpe roped a triple to the fence to plate Sborlini. Micaela Ghanayem singled home Volpe and scored two batters later on an error to make it a 4-0 advantage for Upper Merion.

“We were struggling to get the bats going,’ Sborlini said. “It was a good team effort. We all rallied behind each other and got some key hits.’

After Cheltenham cut the lead in half with two fourth-inning runs, The Vikings extended their lead.

Nicole Kowalski was hit by a rolling pitch to lead off the frame and Kandy followed with a single. Sborlini ripped a two-run double and scored two batters later on Ghanayem’s double to take a commanding 7-2 lead.

“We’ve got speed,’ Whitney said. “Dez Kandy makes things happen. Then (Sborlini) hit a rocket to centerfield that ricocheted — we got two runs there — and that just kind of snowballed us. Once they get on a roll — once they start hitting — that’s a big thing with us. Right now they’re in a good groove.’

That score held until the bottom of the sixth when Upper Merion pushed across five runs to put the 10-run rule into effect.

Volpe hit a one-out triple, her second of the game, to start the inning and Ghanayem followed with a walk. Allie Moffett plated Volpe with a double. Ghanayem scored on an error and Linda Sobecki grounded out to score Moffett. The game ended when Nicole Kowalski hit a ball that Cheltenham’s shortstop booted and Alyssa Adinolfi crossed the plate to make it 12-2.

Sborlini was efficient in the circle for Upper Merion. The right-hander threw all six innings, allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out two.

“(Sborlini) has been consistent all year,’ Whitney said. “She’s a stud… She just keeps getting better and better because she works at it.’

The Panthers (6-6, 5-3) scored their only two runs in the top of the fourth. With no outs and the bases loaded, Erin Kuchler grounded out to Sborlini who tagged out the runner coming home. Diamond Waller followed that with a fielder’s choice that scored the first run and, after a walk, Madison Gianelle singled home the second run.

The win keeps Upper Merion undefeated and on top of SOL American at 8-0, a game ahead of Springfield and 3.5 games ahead of Cheltenham, including both head-to-head meetings.

“It feels really good (to sweep Cheltenham),’ Sborlini said. “Because last year we had trouble with them. This year we really came together as a team and just pushed through it and did what we needed to do.’

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