Armstrong works out of jams, helps Truman upset Wissahickon in District 1-6A first round

LOWER GWYNEDD >> Andrew Armstrong twice found his way through tough jams as the senior right-hander helped the Truman baseball team earn its first District 1 playoffs win since 2011 Monday afternoon.

“It was definitely not my best stuff today,” Armstrong said. “I mean that was probably one of my worst starts all season. But I figured it out, which I was very happy that I finally got out of those innings – long innings.”

The visiting No. 20 seed Tigers took a 5-0 lead in top of the second inning in Tuesday’s District 1-6A first-round contest. But No. 13 Wissahickon answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame and in the fifth threatened for more by loading the bases with one out.

Armstrong, however, escaped unscathed by posting back-to-back strikeouts.

After a Truman run in the top of the sixth, the Trojans began their half of the inning putting runners on the corners with no outs only for Armstrong to follow with three straight strikeouts.

Truman pitcher Andrew Armstrong (8) throws a pitch against Wissahickon during their District 1-6A first round game on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“The last inning I felt pretty good cause I knew I was hitting my pitch count so I knew I just had to leave it all out there,” said Armstrong, a Bloomsburg commit. “But the fifth inning was probably a little more challenging for me.”

Austin Allen took over the mound for the Tigers and threw a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to seal Truman’s 6-3 upset victory.

“Too many strikeouts,” Wissahickon coach Andy Noga said.  “We just couldn’t put the ball in play with two strikes. I thought we had some gritty at-bats where we did a good job extending at-bats, fouling pitches off but ultimately to end them in strikeouts is not what we were looking for.”

Armstrong racked up a dozen strikeouts in his six innings while Caleb Wright and Alex Matlack both had two RBIs as Truman (12-8), making its first district appearance since 2018, advances to visit No.4 Abington in the second round 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“It just means a lot cause the last couple years we’ve struggled, we haven’t really seen any playoff contention at all,” Armstrong said. “So a lot of us seniors we’ve been together a really long time, it’s just great to finally get over the hump and make the playoffs and advance.”

Truman’s Jayden Gaines (5) celebrates with Andrew Armstorng (8) after scoring on Alex Matlacks’ two-RBI single in the top of the third inning against Wissahickon during their District 1-6A first round game on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Shane Henrick and Finn Olszewski each had a double in collecting a pair of hits for Wissahickon (13-8), which was looking for its first postseason win since 2018. Henrick was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, Olszewski went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Jarret Federer added two RBIs.

“It hurts,” said Henrick, a senior third baseman committed to Jefferson. “Us as a group, we were not expecting to lose today, we were expecting to go to Abington Wednesday. But I’ll never forget these group of guys and I love them forever. And I wish all the young guys the best of luck next year. This program’s going in the right way.”

Wright finished 2-for-3 for the Tigers. Aqual Chapman was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored with Wyatt Spinks going 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Armstrong gave up three runs – all earned – on six hits in six innings as he claimed the win. He walked three and hit one batter.

“My changeup was great today,” Armstrong said. “I’ve got a lot of swings and misses on that. And I really pride myself on that pitch because I just love throwing my changeup, it’s my favorite pitch.”

Wissahickon’s Shane Henrick (8) heads for home plate to score a run on Jarret Federer’s two-RBI single against Truman during the bottom of the thid inning of their District 1-6A first round game on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Allen earned the save, registered two strikeouts to give Truman 14 in the contest.

Wissahickon starting pitcher Jack Garrity took the loss, allowing five runs – all earned – on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. He walked two, hit three batters and struck out one. Adam Hajdak threw the final 4 1/3 innings, giving up a run – unearned – on three hits, walking two and striking out two.

“If we don’t put ourselves in a hole, obviously it’s a much different baseball game,” Noga said. “Baseball, you fill up the box scores with what ifs, what ifs, what ifs but these guys showed a ton of fight to not walk away five down.”

In the top of the second, Truman loaded the bases with no outs – Wright leading off with a single that bounced over the second baseman, Jayden Gaines getting hit by a pitch and Luke Olivero reaching on a bunt single.

Truman second baseman Luke Olivero (7) goes into right field to make a catch against Wissahickon during the bottom of the fourth inning of their District 1-6A first round game on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

The Trojans turned a 5-2-3 double play and almost got out of the inning with the game still scoreless, but Chapman just beat out an infield single, allowing Gaines to come home. A Spinks’ RBI single to right the next at-bat made it 2-0 Truman.

“It was tough, but we didn’t make the plays where we needed to,” Henrick said. “That first call was tough, the one that I charged and I thought I had ‘em at first. But it was a tough call, that’s how the game goes.”

The Tigers went up 5-0 in the top of the third. Ryan Cavanaugh led off with a single that dropped into shallow center field due to defensive miscommunication. After an Armstrong walk, Gabe Marrero’s sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third for Wright, who hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Cavanaugh.

After two straight batters were hit by a pitch to load the bases, Matlack brought in two more runs with his two-RBI single up the middle.

“It’s just the guys doing their job,” Armstrong said. “Getting them on, getting them over, getting them in, that’s what we preach. Trust the next guy and that’s what we did today.”

Wissahickon’s Shane Henrick (8) celebrates after his double in the bottom of the fifth inning against Truman during their District 1-6A first round game on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

In the bottom of the third, Olszewski and Luke Frank collected back-to-back one-out singles and two batters later Henrick drove in the Trojans’ first run with a two-out RBI single.

“I was just sitting changeup cause he gave the curveball first AB and just missed it,” Henrick said. “So I was expecting off-speed again and I cashed in on it.”

A Josh Palutis walk loaded the bases for Federer, who knocked in a pair of runs with a two-RBI single through the left side.

In the bottom of the fifth, Henrick hit a one-out double that bounced over the first baseman. Palutis was hit by a pitch while Federer walked, loading the bases with no outs. The Trojans, however, could not cut into the margin as Armstrong put the next two batters down on strikes.

The Wissahickon baseball team holds a postgame huddle after its 6-3 loss to Truman in the District 1-6A first round on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Truman extended its lead to 6-3 with a run in the sixth. Chapman started the inning with a single to shallow right. Armstrong drew a two-out walk while Marrero reached on an error to load the bases. Wright’s infield single scored Chapman.

Kasey Weiss began the bottom of the sixth with a walk. Olszewski followed with a grounder back to the mound but an errant throw to second gave the Trojans runners on first and third with no outs. But Armstrong ended his pitching effort stranding both – Olszewski at second after a steal – with three consecutive strikeouts.

District 1-6A First Round
(20) Truman 6, (13) Wissahickon 3
Truman 023 001 0 – 6 10 1
Wissahickon 003 000 0 – 3 6 2
WP: Andrew Armstrong 6 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 3 BB 12 SO 1 HB.
LP: Jack Garrity 2.2 7 H 5 R 5 ER 1 BB 2 SO 3 HB.
S: Austin Allen 1 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 2 SO.
2B: W-Shane Henrick, Finn Olszewski.
Truman:  Aqual Chapman 2-4, RBI, R; Alex Matlack 2 RBI; Wyatt Spinks 2-5, RBI; Caleb Wright 2-3, 2 RBI.
Wissahickon: Henrick 2-4, RBI, R; Olszewski 2-3, R; Jarret Federer 2 RBI.

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