Cheltenham ‘walks off’pastPW
Both undefeated on the season, both with something to prove, the Cheltenham and Plymouth Whitemarsh faced off for both bragging rights and the top spot in the Suburban One American Conference Monday afternoon.
As expected, it was a duel like no other. With five lead changes in the contest, including a Plymouth Whitemarsh comeback with two outs in the top of the seventh to not only tie the game but to pull ahead, it was Cheltenham who came out on top.
Tying the game in the bottom of the seventh, it was pinch hitter Connor Barton who came off the bench and belted the walk-off winner in a 6-5 eight-inning victory over the visiting Colonials.
“Any time you beat a time like [Plymouth Whitemarsh], it’s huge,” said Panthers coach Frank Decembrino. “They have fight in them, came out and hit us on the chin early, got a good lead.”
It looked as though the Colonials were in for a big day offensively after leadoff man Connor Purdy and two-hole hitter Matt Cooper both scored in the top of the first. They tacked on another run in the second after Gavin Brody walked and scored on a Matt Nardo RBI-single.
However, the Panthers’ bottom of the lineup struck twice in the second and fourth, putting four runs up total and taking the 4-3 lead.
Whalon, meanwhile, continued to pitch effectively throughout defensive miscues of his team — in the third he threw a three-pitch inning — and in the bottom of the sixth he forced three straight batters to ground out to short to preserve the onerun deficit.
The Colonials rewarded his effort in the top of the seventh when with two outs
Dutch Reardon scored Cooper on an RBI-triple to tie the game. Rightfielder Zach Metz put the Colonials on top with an RBI-single to make the score 5-4.
“I attribute that to our ‘never say die’ mentality,” Whalon said. “We’ve played a lot of close games, a lot of [one-run games] and we just keep staying with it and doing what we can to stay up on top.”
But, in the bottom of the inning, Whalon walked Wes Tarver to start the inning, then leadoff Azaan Harris hit a screamer up the thirdbase line that was booted by infielder Reardon and rolled into left field. Gabe Hofferman stepped to the plate and batted in the tying run. However, with the winning run in scoring position, Whalon got Max Perilstein to hit into the 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
After going down in order in the top of the eighth, Whalon again asked for the ball in the bottom of the inning. He allowed hits to Jack McGlade, the eventual winning run, and Calvin Salazar. Pinch hitter Mark Franchetti seemingly hit into a double play that would have ended the inning, but Salazar was called safe at second and Franchetti safe on the fielder’s choice. The next batter, pincher hitter Barton, came up and hit a screamer to deep right field and the rest is history.
“I was a little nervous, but I knew I wanted to be in that spot. I wanted to prove myself,” Barton said. “I’ve been working through some struggles swinging the bat, but this past week I’ve felt great.”
Michael Whalon follows through on a pitch during Monday’s Suburban One American Conference game against Cheltenham.
La Salle’s Adam Arcadia successfully steals second base before Archbishop Ryan’s Chris Sanchez can tag him during Saturday’s Philadelphia Catholic League action.