Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
Drelick's squeeze sends Brewers past Valley Forge in extra innings to force Game 5
HATFIELD » Ambler’s Jake Drelick played deep in left field with two outs, no runners on and Valley Forge cleanup hitter Joey Morton at the plate in a tied game in the top of the eighth inning Friday night at School Road Park.
Morton, one of the best power hitters in the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League, hit a high fly ball to shallow left field. Drelick came racing in and tried to make a diving catch. He wasn’t able to get there in time and hurt his hand in the process.
When Drelick stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with a chance to win the game, his hand still wasn’t right and he changed his approach.
With the bases loaded, no outs and the game tied, Drelick laid a bunt down the first base line. Erik Jesberger sprinted home from third and dove head first to give the Brewers a 7-6 Game 4 win and force a decisive Game 5 in the quarterfinal series.
“I knew I probably wasn’t at my fullest strength when I swung,” Drelick said. “I was like, ‘If a guy gets on third.’ I love bunting. I’m a pretty good bunter, I would say. I was able to get it down. I knew I was going to get a good pitch, he was going to start me out with a strike.
“I knew (the infield) was up. I knew if I played it hard enough I knew with the speed Jesberger had that would be a tough play no matter what. That’s a bang-bang play. A lot of things need to go right for that play to be executed correctly and for the guy to be out at home, tag, fielded cleanly. I knew that if I got it in play, anything can happen.”
Jesberger and Antonio Rossillo worked walks to start the bottom of the eighth inning before Connor Ertel singled to load the bases with no outs. Drelick, who hit .468 during the regular season, followed and bunted on the first pitch he saw to win the game.
No. 3 Ambler, which won Game 3 11-10 Thursday, and No. 3 Valley Forge, which won Games 1 and 2 8-6 and 12-6, will play Game 5 Monday night at 7:30 p.m. at Heuser Park for a spot in the semifinals.
“Everyone is going to be hungry,” Drelick said. “It shows we can do this. Taking two losses in the beginning of the series, but now we bounce back and get the wins. Now it’s one game decides all. It’s like a Game 7 in sports, best day ever to decide it all.”
CLUTCH SPOTS » Before the game started, Ambler coach Joe Drelick was stressing to his team the importance of two-out hitting. The message must have gotten through because the Brewers scored their first six runs with two outs.
“We expect to be in these types of close games,” Ambler’s Michael von Zuben said. “When you expect to be in close games, you expect to have to hit with two outs. We’re never trying to smash the ball or hit home runs. Obviously we have guys that can do that, but we just have a bunch of guys that can put it in play and hustle it out. It’s just a credit to us and how much we want it out here.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Ertel scored on a two-out error before von Zuben and JT Anderosky hit back-to-back RBI singles for a 3-0 lead.
In the second inning,
Colin Orndorff walked and scored on a two-out error to put the Brewers ahead, 4-2.
Orndorff reached on a two-out error in the bottom of the third and scored on an Ertel double, extending the lead to 5-4.
Zack Miles led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple to right-center field. After a groundout to first and short fly ball to right field, von Zuben plated Miles with a two-out single for a 6-4 lead.
“I’m just trying to do my job out there,” von Zuben said. “When I get in there I just try to do my job and recognize the situation. We’ve seen this pitcher, he’s a good pitcher, a couple times now. Just trying to pick out a pitch, trying to read his patterns and get a pitch I can put in play and help us out.”
The Aces entered the top of the seventh inning with a two-run deficit and their 6-7-8 hitters due up. Jason Smiley led off the inning with an infield single before Dave Clay’s base hit put runners on the corners. A balk scored Smiley to make it a 6-5 game and put the tying run in scoring position with no outs.
Eric Beideman moved the tying run to third with a sacrifice bunt before Scott Seiple’s sacrifice fly to center field knotted the game at six.
Earlier in the game, Sam Plaugher got Valley Forge on the board with a tworun single in the top of the second. A Beideman sacrifice fly and Plaugher RBI single in the third tied the game, 4-4.
GUTSY GAMBONE » After throwing 97 pitches across 5 2/3 innings and earning the win in Game 1 Tuesday night, Ray Gambone was back on the mound for Valley Forge to start Game 4 Friday.
“I didn’t skip my routine at all,” Gambone said. “I wasn’t even 100% certain I was going to throw today. If they won yesterday, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I worked out, did everything normal. I worked the last two days. Just went through the routine as normal. Still feeling sore today, still feeling it pretty good, but just worked through it.”
The left-hander threw seven-plus innings, allowing seven runs, two earned, on seven hits. He struck out four batters to five walks. He threw 117 pitches, 72 for strikes.
“My off-speed was really good,” Gambone said. “They couldn’t really hit the curveball at all. Just pounding the zone pretty much, making them try to hit it. They weren’t able to get a good piece. Other than the one triple in right-center, I don’t think they hit a ball past an outfielder. Lot of infield singles and little groundballs that got through. Couldn’t really do anything about that.” Ambler 7, Valley Forge 6
Valley Forge 022 000 20 — 6 Ambler 311 100 01 — 7