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Downingtown East bats explode for 11-5 win in state opener

Downingtown East’s bats came alive for an 11-5 victory against District 2 champion Hazleton in the Cougars’ PIAA 6A state baseball tournament opener Monday at Pittston Baseball Field in Hughestown.
“Our bats were quiet during the district playoffs, but they exploded today,” said Downingtown East head coach Pete Susi. “It was a well-played game, and a long game – it lasted almost three hours, because it was so back-and-forth.”
Albert Choy led the Cougar attack with two triples and five RBIs, including a three-run triple in the top of the fifth inning that put Downingtown East ahead for good.
With the victory, the Cougars (18-6), the fourth-place team in District 1, advance to the state quarterfinals Thursday, where they will play District 1 champion Neshaminy at a time and place to be determined as of Monday evening.
Downingtown East, who made the two-hour trip to Hughsville Monday morning, showed no signs of travel fatigue against Hazleton, bolting to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Hazleton tied it up with a four-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning.
Both teams scored single runs in the fourth inning; then, with the score tied 5-5 in the top of the fifth, Downingtown East exploded for five runs to break the game open.
The rally began with a one-out walk by David Owsik, followed by a bunt single by Matt Vitali and an infield single by Will Vincent. Choy cleared the bases with a three-run triple to make it 8-5.
Choy scored on a ground ball by Connor Lynch, who was safe at first when Hazleton unsuccessfully tried to nail Choy at home plate. Tommy Ajjan lined a single, then following a force out at second base, Zach Burton walked to load the bases. Camron Reichlin’s RBI single made it 10-5.
Grant Umberger took over mound duties in the bottom of the fifth inning, after David Ferguson had hurled four frames, and shut out Hazleton for the final three innings.
“Hazleton is a good-hitting team, but Grant kept them off-balance with a good change-up,” noted Susi.
Downingtown East catcher Connor Lynch threw out three would-be base stealers, the final one ending the game.

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