UPPER PROVIDENCE — Eddie Owens has found his hitting stroke.
So too has the rest of the Whitemarsh lineup at just the right time, helping the Patriots reach the final day of the Pennsylvania American Legion Region 3 Tournament.
Owens collected a pair of doubles as part of strong performance from Whitemarsh’s bottom of the order, which collected half of the GNALBL champs’ 12 hits as they knocked off Northampton 10-5 Monday night at Ram Stadium.
“It’s been a rough season for me, I’m not going to lie,” Owens said. “Bat woke up for me this season and I’m hoping it continues and the bats for the whole team have been going, too so we’re looking good out there.”
The Patriots broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in top of the fourth then blew things open by plating five with two outs in the fifth. Two more runs in the sixth made it 10-1 before the Bombers scored fourth in the bottom of the seventh.
Whitemarsh advances to take on Fort Washington – the Lower Montco champs defeating Falls 12-11 earlier Monday – in an elimination game noon Tuesday. Winner moves to face Northampton in the championship final in a Tuesday’s second contest.
Since losing 4-3 to Falls in their region opener last Friday, the Patriots have put up a combined 34 runs in three straight victories – 17 of those coming in last Saturday’s victory over Concord.
“Our backs were against the wall but we never had a doubt,” Patriots starting pitcher Jason Kelly said. “We were confident in our ability. And we just knew we weren’t going to lose again.”
Kelly, heading into his sophomore year at Alvernia, threw a solid 5 1/3 innings to earn the win as Whitemarsh held Northampton to single-digit runs for the first time in the tournament. The right-hander allowed one run – unearned – on two hits, walked four and struck out two.
“I heard a lot of rumors that they hit the ball a lot and I don’t really like to buy into the hype, I got to see if for myself,” Kelly said. So I just went out there, tried to throw as many strikes, let my team play behind me as I did. That worked out well for us.”
Joe Rauscher got his first at-bat in the fifth and from the No. 7 spot in the order went 2-for-2 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored. Ryan Flaherty, batting eighth, was 2-for-4 and scored twice while No. 9 Owens finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“Joe Rauscher coming in there, he doesn’t hit much, PO (pitcher only), smacked a couple of doubles a game,” said Owens, a recent Plymouth Whitemarsh set to play at Bucks County Community College. “Ryan Flaherty hitting in front of me, he’s coming up clutch. It’s good, it’s looking good for us.”
Flaherty led off the top of the fourth with a single, went to third on Owens’ double then scored on a passed ball to put the Patriots up 2-1. Owens dashed home to make it 3-1 after Northampton got a force out at first base following a dropped third strike.
In the top of the fifth, Daulton Carlisle – who finished 2-for-5 – hit a one-out single to right center then scored two batters later on Rauscher’s two-out RBI double to left center. Rauscher went to third on a wild pitch then came in for a 5-1 Whitemarsh lead after Flaherty reached on an error.
“We’ve been having outbursts all tournament long – big innings, one by one,” Kelly said. “I think we’re the best hitting team in the tournament if I’m being honest. And we’ll see how it plays out tomorrow.”
Back-to-back RBI doubles from Owens and Quin Dye increased the margin to 7-1. Bobby Markey singled on the next at-bat with an error on Markey’s steal of second allowing Dye home for Whitemarsh’s fifth run of the frame for an 8-1 advantage.
“I think I was just seeing the ball well tonight,” Owens said. “And that third at-bat, I really wanted to come up and smack another one but unlucky – what are you going to do about it?”
The Patriots tacked their final two runs in the sixth. Mike Miller began the bottom of the inning with a single while Carlisle followed with a double to right. After a lineout to the pitcher, Rauscher belted a double to left, scoring both runners.
Northampton did not go down without a fight in the seventh. An infield single, an error and one-out walk loaded the bases for Alex Neeld, who hit an RBI single to make it 10-2. Another run came in when Bennett Borbin was hit by a pitch.
After a strikeout, Patrick Gannon singled up the middle to plate two runs and get the Bombers within 10-5 but another strikeout finally sealed the Whitemarsh win.
The Patriots took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Dye began the game reaching second on an error, moved to third on a Markey groundout then scored on a passed ball.
Northampton did not have a hit until the fourth but pulled level in the bottom of the third. Jack O’Neill led off with a walk, advanced to second on a passed ball then went to third on Joe Purcell’s sacrifice bunt. After Luke Gregory reached on a dropped third strike to put runners on the corners, Jonathan Pinciotti plated O’Neill with an RBI sac fly.
Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, the Bombers loaded the bases after a two-out Gannon walk and Nick Weston’s infield single but a soft pop out to second ended the threat.