Wissahickon searches for elusive playoff win

LOWER GWYNEDD >> The Wissahickon baseball team has had a ton of talent in the last few years. Players have earned all Suburban One League American Conference honors and committed to Division I college programs.

What the Trojans have lacked, however, is playoff success. Despite all of the elite ability to come through the program, they haven’t won a District playoff game since 2012.

This year’s team continues the trend of top notch players. The standouts are senior Blake Rapoport and juniors Alex Tappen, Matt Shilling and Logan Willans.

“I haven’t won a playoff game,” Tappen, a Virginia commit, said. “I don’t think it stops at one, either. We’re not just looking for one, singular, playoff win. We’re looking to do as much damage as possible. It would mean a lot (to win a playoff game), but we’re looking for more than one. We’ll see how it ends up.

“Losing to Council Rock North in that game (2015 District 1 opener) left a sour taste in a lot of our mouths. Coming into this season we knew that and we knew what we wanted and we had a lot of talent. Win our league, win our district, win states. Those were three goals we set. Right now we’ve got a lot of momentum behind it and we’re looking forward to getting off to a good start.”

“This is kind of the culmination of that whole crew,” coach John Bernhardt said. “Playoff wise I think this is kind of it for them. They are never too high, they are never too low. They are very mellow, which I think is a very good thing.”

This is Wissahickon’s first season under Bernhardt, who previously coached SOL American rival Cheltenham. Tappen thinks the team gets its demeanor from the new coach.

“We don’t press,” Tappen said, comparing this team to past teams. “It’s a blessing and a curse, but we might be one of the loosest teams in the league. We just have fun. We do what we do and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, we don’t have any regrets. We play hard. I think a lot of that is courtesy of Bernhardt. That’s his goal — keep it loose and airy so no one gets uptight about whether they’re slumping or not … It’s all about rallying behind those people and supporting them. I think that’s what makes the team different this year. As the season has gone on, when (Rapoport), Shilling, me — the top of the order doesn’t have the good games, we’ve had the bottom of the lineup coming up right behind us and helping us out and getting some key wins.”

The No. 13 seed Trojans’ chance to finally get that elusive District 1 Class AAAA win was pushed back a little longer Monday afternoon when a 15-minute downpour an hour before the game against No. 20 seed Strath Haven put the field under water. They will now host the Panthers at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Bernhardt is very familiar with Strath Haven head coach Brian Fili. Fili is the manager of the Wayne team in the Delco League that Bernhardt plays for. He has been Bernhardt’s coach for the last three summers.

“They’re good,” Bernhardt said of Strath Haven. “They’re very well-coached. Brian is a good coach — he played at Villanova, he was an All-Conference guy there. He does a really nice job, they are one of the most consistent teams in the Central League year in and year out. It’s going to be tough. I tell the guys it’s going to be a war out there and they have to be ready to go, but I think we’re up to the task. We’re very prepared.”

Willans will pitch the postseason opener. The right-hander finished the SOL American season with a 6-2 record and 0.95 ERA.

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