LOWER MILFORD — Even after Central Perk charged back to pull even in sixth inning, Tyler Olszewski and Plymouth Whitemarsh still trusted their offense would come through.
“I had a lot of confidence in us,” Olszewski said. “We were hitting the ball all over the field the game. Our defense made a couple errors but we bounced back and pitching was there the whole game.”
Central Perk trailed 7-1 after an inning but rallied for an 8-8 tie with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth of Saturday afternoon’s Pennsylvania Connie Mack State Tournament finals.
But the Colonials responded with three of their own in the bottom of the frame – Olszewski collecting the go-ahead hit – and PW held on to claim the state championship with an 11-8 victory at Limeport Stadium.
“It feels great,” said Olszewski, a rising junior at La Salle. “Coming off of all of our championships before together, starting when we were younger, and just being able to finish one off in high school together is a great feeling.”
Olszewski 2-for-3 with five RBIs – three on a bases-clearing double in the first – and scored twice as the Colonials capped off 4-0 run in the double-elimination tournament to earn PW’s first-ever Connie Mack state crown by besting their Bux-Mont rival.
“I’m glad for them – I’ve been coaching them since they were eight,” Plymouth Whitemarsh coach Andy Robinson said. “We have amazing players straight through the lineup. They haven’t had many wins in recent years. We’ve been split – some guys are on varsity, some are on JV, some guys got pulled in different directions, for them to all get to come back together and then win was awesome for me to see that for them. They’re great players and they deserve it.”
PW leadoff hitter Tyler Gartland had two doubles in the first – the Colonials sent 11 batters to the plate in scoring seven in the inning – and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Gavin Rocks was 2-for-3 with a walk and two run scored while Luke Gartland scored twice for PW, which posted at least nine runs in each of four games at Limeport.
“We always hit, we’ve always been able to hit but when they came back we were all just calm, we knew what we had to do,” said Tyler Gartland, a rising junior at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. “And we knew we were going to win the game. We knew we could score six, seven runs in an inning.”
Michael Poruban was 3-for-3 with a double, walk and two runs for Central Perk, the defending state champ – having won in 2019 with last year’s tournament not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CP’s John Brady went 2-for-3 with a walk, three RBIs and a run scored, Sean Crawford was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run while Samuel Soderman had two RBIs.
Central Perk lost its state opener 13-8 to Nor-Gwyn July 24 but ripped off five straight wins to reach the finals, including a 10-3 victory over Moore Township earlier Saturday.
CP came close to another comeback to force a decisive title game Sunday after falling behind 7-1 to PW at the end of the first. Central Perk plated four runs in the third then added another in the fourth, cutting margin to 7-6 before center fielder Tyler Gartland kept PW up a run with a diving catch for the third out.
“I was thinking if I can get to any ball, I’m going to dive for it,” Tyler Gartland said. “I’m not letting it hit the ground. So once I saw it off the bat I knew I could get to it and I did everything I could to catch it.”
An Olszewski RBI sac fly in the bottom of the fourth made it 8-6. Central Perk, however, executed two squeeze bunts in the top of the sixth to score twice and knot things at eight.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Luke Gartland reached on an error and stole second. After a Rocks walk, Olszewski connected on a single to right, scoring Luke Gartland while an error trying to get Olszewski out at second allowed Rocks home for a 10-8 lead.
“I got two strikes so I was just trying to put the ball in play at that point,” Olszewski said. “And good things happen when you put the ball in play.”
A wild pitch advanced Olszewski to third with another with wild pitch bring him in for a three-run lead.
In the top of the seventh, CP brought the tying run to the plate after a Poruban leadoff single and John Brady walk. But Lincoln Sharpe got two fly outs and a groundout to strand both and secure the title.
“So defensively we had our struggles but we always know – we were down in the Bux-Mont, down a few runs to start, we were down up here a few runs in different games but we always know we’re going to put the runs on,” Robinson said. “It’s just a matter of when – when it clicks together. Trust all my guys and they can all get it done.”
Sharpe got the win in relief after coming in with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. He gave up no runs, one hits and one walk in 1 2/3 innings.
After an injury limited PW starting pitcher Dylan Robinson to just one inning, Colin Brady took over on the mound and threw 4 1/3 innings. Brady allowed seven runs – two earned – on seven hits, walked four, hit one batter and struck out three.
Soderman took the loss for CP, giving up six runs – five earned – on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out three. Starter Carson Pascoe did not record an out, allowing runs – all earned – on three hits and a walk. Poruban pitched the final two-thirds of an inning, giving up one run – unearned – on one hit, walked one and struck out one.
Central Perk took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Poruban hit a two-out double then scored on Brady’s RBI single.
Tyler Gartland began PW’s half of the first with a double. A Luke Gartland walk and Rocks single loaded the bases for Olszewski, who brought in all three runners with a three-RBI double to right.
“I got to give a lot of credit to the first three batters in the order just getting on and I did my job, put the ball in play again and good things happen. We took an early lead and we held the momentum throughout.
RBI singles from Colin Brady and Johnny Giordano made it 5-1 while in his second at-bat of the inning Tyler Garland hit a two-RBI double for a 7-1 lead.
“They were all getting their pitches – no strikes, one strike they’re waiting for their pitch and they all ripped them, they all hit them,” Andy Robinson said. “So it was just clutch hits right through the lineup.”
A two-out error on a Soderman grounder kept the top of the third going and Central Perk took advantage. After Jared Leighton’s single and a Poruban walk loaded the bases, John Brady single to right center to score two runs. A Gavin Pascoe walk again loaded the bases with Crawford plating two more runs with a single to left center to get CP within 7-5.
Soderman’s RBI sac fly made it 7-6 in the top of the fourth before Olszewski’s one-out, bases-loaded RBI sac fly put PW up two in the bottom of the frame.
Crawford began the top of the sixth with a single while Micah Seitzinger getting hit by a pitch and Kevin Fitzpatrick’s bunt single loaded the bases with no outs. Crawford scored on Peyton Allen’s squeeze bunt single – PW getting an out at third on the play – to get CP back within a run.
After a Luke Taylor walk loaded the bases, CP pulled off another squeeze bunt – Fitzpatrick coming home to tie things 8-8 on Soderman’s sacrifice.
NOTES >> Local tournament award winners were Pennridge’s Garrett Navitsky as Most Valuable Player while Montgomery earned the Sportsmanship Award…Bux-Mont has now won the last 17 Connie Mack state titles.