WEST NORRITON TWP. >> Pottstown manager Chris Petro and Norristown manager Brett Huston called each other up on Wednesday morning.
Huston was an assistant for Petro last season with the Trojans before taking over the Eagles this spring. While both hoped their impending matchup later in the day would result in a victory, there was some solace in knowing one of the former coaching mates would end up with their first win of the season.
Norristown fell behind by four runs in the early going, but rallied from behind for a 9-4 victory over Pottstown – its first victory of the season.
The Eagles’ Asher Guarino drove in two runs and tallied a pair of hits, while Gavin DeFrangesco gave 5.1 strong innings of relief to quell the early Trojans surge.
“I’ve been waiting to see these guys happy and get on a good roll, just so they can get some positive momentum,” Huston said. “They knew I coached there last year, so they really wanted to get me a win today. That was awesome. My guys came through for me.”
Pottstown’s Gabe Hicks and Evan Draucker led off the game with hits and later came around to score to put Pottstown up 2-0 after one. Jayden Roach and Gage Colvin drove in two more runs to make it 4-0 Pottstown in the top of the second.
DeFrangesco came in with two outs in the top of the second and gave up the RBI hit to Colvin and a walk, but that was pretty much all he would surrender. He shut down the Trojans’ offense after that, allowing just one hit after the second inning.
“I think I just trusted my teammates,” DeFrangesco said. “I knew if I throw the ball and they put it in play, they’re going to make the play behind me. Our offense came to play. I had a lot of love from my teammates today.”
Aided by some Trojans’ miscues – errors, walks, passed balls – the Eagles found an answer, plating five runs in the bottom of the second.
They added three more in the third and one in the fourth to turn a 4-0 deficit into a 9-4 lead within three at-bats.
Guarino had an RBI double in the second and another RBI hit in the third and came around to score twice to lead the Norristown offense. Will LeBlanc also tallied a pair of hits and drove in two runs.
“Once we saw ourselves down 4-0, we cheered it up in the dugout, kept it going,” Guarino said. “Once we got that first hit it sparked us and we just kept going the whole time. We had a good approach at the plate and kept our bats going the whole time.”
DeFrangesco (seven strikeouts) never let the Trojans grab any of that momentum back. Hicks, who Petro said has been having a strong season, had a pair of hits and a diving catch in left field to highlight the Trojans’ day.
“The defense continued to get worse and our at-bats got worse,” Petro said. “We were aggressive, coming out swinging and we went into a turtle shell.”
The nine runs were a season-high for the Eagles, who scored just runs in their first eight games. They were helped by four walks and four errors from the Trojans.
Joey DeLeo put together a solid outing in a complete-game effort for Pottstown, allowing just two earned runs on five hits while striking out eight.
“He’s a senior and he’s pitched really well for us this year,” Petro said. “Every time out he’s pitched well. He pounds the zone, which is what we tell him to do and our defense continues to let us down.”
The Eagles’ defense is meanwhile turning into a strength — something Huston attributes to the push-ups that come with made errors.
“I was on the team last year and we made a lot of errors,” DeFrangesco said. “This year, it’s been great, maybe one error a game tops. We’re really staying down on the ball.”
Both teams are young — Norristown has seven freshmen on varsity and Pottstown has six. There’s still time to grow for both teams with eight games left for Pottstown and seven for Norristown.
The Eagles have been quietly playing teams tough as of late and hope Wednesday’s win could be the spark they need to rack up a couple more victories to end the season.
“It feels pretty good,” DeFrangesco said. “First seven, eight games we didn’t do too hot. It feels good to get this win, and hopefully roll it into tomorrow.”