Tredyffrin — A pivotal five-run fourth inning and the heroics of relief pitcher Angus Mayock kept Conestoga alive in the second round of the District 1 Class AAAA baseball playoffs.
The 10th-seeded Pioneers (16-6) defeated No. 26 Harriton, 9-5 on Wednesday and will host No. 15 Council Rock North on Friday in the quarterfinals.
Pioneers starter Tim Miller was roughed up for five runs in his first three innings and it looked like Harriton would stay in control with Jesse Bregman working efficiently on the mound.
“Ideally you don’t try to go down by five, I was trying to do what I was doing the whole year and just kept leaving pitches up in the zone,’ said Miller. “These kids can hit. They are better than their 26th seed, they should be up there in the top-15, maybe.’
Down, 5-1, Conestoga’s center fielder Greyson Avots started the fourth with a single, beating out the throw after Harriton second baseman Arron Deutsch dove to his right to keep the ball in the infield.
Following a fly out from Mark Anderson, Mayock delivered the first of his three hits of the day for the Pioneers. Jonah Siegal followed with a single to load the bases for Miller.
He proceeded to stroke a line drive to right field for a single, bringing in Avots and Mayock to cut the lead to 5-3.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a slump recently and I knew it was a 2-0 (count) and he wasn’t going down 3-0. So I expected a fast ball down the middle,’ said Miller. “He threw it down the middle and luckily I got it and drove it right through the hole.’
Shortstop Ryne Orgen jumped on the RBI parade with a single that drove in Siegal and advanced Miller to third. Orgen would steal second to put runners on second and third for designated hitter Len Watson.
Watson grounded out to second, driving in Miller to tie the game at five and advance Orgen to third.
Orgen flew home on a wild pitch from relief pitcher Jonah Frankel to give the Pioneers a lead they would hold for the remainder of the game.
“It’s a sign for this team that we’ve never given up all year, and when we got behind we’ve been able to come back before,’ said Conestoga coach John Vogan. “I’m really proud the way we stay with it. (This game) started out like we had been doing early in the year was getting a lot of hits but not scoring any runs (from it). I was a little concerned there but I had confidence in them because we have been swinging the bats well lately.’
Vogan pulled Miller after the third inning and left it to his relief pitcher, sophomore, Maycok. In his four scoreless innings, he only allowed two hits with no walks. He picked up six strikeouts on his way to the playoff victory.
“I was down 5-1 when I came in. I knew I just had to put the ball over the plate, let them hit it in play and let my fielders make plays,’ said Mayock. “As the game kept going, I was able to pick up more velocity and control my pitches.’
“I hate to say it, but coach made a great decision to take me out of the game and letting Angus come in because he pitched one hell of a game,’ added Miller.
Maycok credits his offense for the jump start of adrenaline to get locked in on the mound.
“That was huge,’ he added. “A huge emotional boost and the adrenaline after that inning was what I think got me through the rest of the game.’
Despite his underclassman status, Vogan sees Mayock as an invaluable piece to the Pioneers’ pitching staff.
“That was a pressure situation but to be honest, he has been coming in (like that) all year,’ said Vogan. “I’ve got complete confidence in Angus. This kid doesn’t pitch like a sophomore, he’s very focused and very confident. A little edgy, but I like that.’
Notes: Conestoga’s offensive leaders were Avots and Orgen. Avots went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, while Orgen went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. … The game was a match-up between the finalist in Class AAA (Harriton) and Class AAAA (Conestoga) in 2014.