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Penncrest’s Carliss cashes his payback at a perfect time

SPRINGFIELD — Adam Carliss was drilled by a pitch in the eighth inning Wednesday, leaving the Penncrest senior a little unhappy. So, when he strolled to plate to face Springfield All-Delco pitcher Zach Tropiano for a second time in two innings, Carliss naturally had payback on his mind.

Then again: Game tied, two on, two out, ninth inning. Carliss’ main objective was to deliver the go-ahead base knock.

“I just wanted to put a ball in play. I know he throws a lot of offspeed and curveballs. In that last at bat, I got four pitches and three were offspeed,” Carliss said. “The last one was right over the plate, so I just sat back and hit it.”

Carliss punched a line drive to left field, scoring Christian Reed from second base, to put the Lions in front. Quinten Perilli escaped a two-out jam in the bottom of the ninth and Penncrest held on for an 8-7 victory over Springfield in nine dramatic innings.

Penncrest’s senior class had never beaten Springfield before Wednesday.

“I mean, we make the (District 1 Class 5A) playoffs because of this. It was a huge win for us,” said Perilli, who struck out seven over five strong innings of relief. The senior captain and Elizabethtown College commit is the Lions’ top catcher and hitter. “I wasn’t expecting to go more than two innings. I don’t know how I made it through. I love these guys so much. This was huge.”

Ben Stanton made a sliding catch in center field to seal the win for the Lions. Springfield had runners at the corners. Cody Grande led off with a single and pinch hitter Jake Adams poked a hit through the vacancy at shortstop with two outs.

Matt Grapin smoked a ball to center, but Stanton saw it the entire way and came charging in. The slide was the necessary icing on the cake.

“We were playing no-doubles, we were playing back, so I was able to see it off the bat and come in,” Stanton said. “It was coming down fast and I just wanted to make sure I had the extension.”

For Penncrest (8-8), the win keeps them in the thick of the district playoff race. The team sits eighth in the standings, and 12 teams qualify for the tournament. After starting the season 3-6, the Lions have won five of their last seven contests.

“We play Marple on Monday and we knew we had to win at least one of these last two games to make playoffs,” Carliss said. “We might as well get it done early and not have to worry about that game on Monday.”

Springfield tallied three runs without a hit in the first inning off Penncrest starter Gavin Wray. Tropiano scored on a wild pitch and an error enabled Matt Bean and Jake Carlin to cross the dish, giving Springfield the early 3-0 lead.

The Lions answered in the second inning as they barreled up several balls against Cougars starter Jack Morrissey. Sam Dinitz ripped an RBI double, Max Cummings laced a single, and Perilli rocketed a ball to left field to drive in a run. Penncrest tied the game at 3-3 when Mike Costello doubled and eventually scored on an RBI grounder by Christian Reed.

Springfield sent eight men to the plate in its half of the third inning, scoring four runs. The big knock was a two-run double by Grapin out of the eight hole. Nine hitter Reese Bean followed with a single to drive in two more.

The Cougars’ 7-3 lead wasn’t safe, though. Gavin Brown smashed a bases-clearing double the opposite way to left field to tie it at 7-7 in the fourth. Brown was a steadying force on the mound, too. He was summoned with no one out in the first inning and lasted four before handing the ball over to Perilli in the sixth.

“Just a huge team win for us,” Perilli said. “I can’t say it enough. We needed this.”

Perilli went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in the leadoff spot. The Lions churned out 16 hits, including a pair of doubles from Costello. Reed was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Springfield’s bottom of the order did most of the damage. In addition to Grapin’s big two-run double, Reese Bean went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Carlin added two singles and two runs scored.

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