ROYERSFORD — It’s hard to find a better offseason pick-up than the one Roslyn made in Connor Duddy.
With Huntingdon Valley not fielding a team in the Lower Montco Legion league this summer, Duddy opted to provide his services to the Blue Hawks. The Lower Moreland grad added major pop in the middle of a strong lineup and on Sunday, he was a major reason Roslyn got to continue its season.
Duddy pitched the final 1.2 innings and hit a bases loaded walk-off single as Roslyn rallied past Yardley-Morrsville 9-8 in eight innings at the Region 3 tournament at Spring-Ford’s Ram Stadium.
“It took heart and passion,” Duddy said. “This team wants to win this. Even though we’re coming in as the underdog, we believe we can win this and we have the talent to do it.”
After losing via walk-off in the first game of the tournament, the Blue Hawks have played with extra motivation. First, they held off a Perk Valley rally on Saturday to stay alive then pulled out every stop available in Sunday’s roller coaster game.
Roslyn trailed three times including the bottom of the eighth, went through three pitchers and had numerous players come through in key spots. It might have left the team in a tough spot going into Monday’s 4 p.m. elimination game against Nether Providence, but Roslyn didn’t have any other choice.
“They were hitting the ball all game, have some big bats there and a little more power I expected,” Roslyn coach Mark Troyer said. “We got up 3-1, they battled back and I told the guys it was going to be one of those games where we just had to keep scoring runs. Three or four runs weren’t going to be enough.”
An outfield error allowed Yardley-Morrisville, the Lower Bucks League champions, to take a 1-0 lead off Roslyn starter George Jacob in the top of the second. The Blue Hawks rolled back with a big inning that for the third day in a row started with Griffin Wittenberg reaching base.
Wittenberg’s walk to lead off the bottom of the second turned into a run on Steve Vogl’s double and after Jordan Grimaldi plated a run on a fielder’s choice and Cam Marrow drove in a score on a groundout, Roslyn had its first lead. During the inning, Yardley-Morrisville starter Christian Buchler had to exit and Alex Martin came on from third base to quash the rally.
Martin kept Roslyn in check over the next three innings while the Sharks’ bats whittled down Roslyn’s lead before taking a 5-4 lead when Mark Seibert scored on Alex Evans’ RBI groundout in the fifth inning. Jack Ruch, who relieve Jacob to start the game, managed the damage well by allowing just the one run after loading the bases with one out.
“I put what we had into this game,” Troyer said. “I rotated through a couple of pitchers, it’s not something I wanted to do but I had to do. You have to go for the game in front of you and put everything we had into it, got this game out and got some big efforts from a lot of people in the lineup.”
Roslyn picked a good time to rally, erupting for four runs in the sixth inning as Martin started to show some mortality on the mound. With both teams battling the weather, the temperature at first pitch was announced as 96 degrees, any miscue would be magnified.
Duddy worked a walk to start the bottom of the sixth with singles by Wittenberg and Vogl loading the bases.
“His location started to get a little off as the game went on, it’s just grueling out there, it’s so hot,” Duddy said. “We just took advantage of the mistakes.
“If we don’t have that sixth inning, we don’t win this game so it was a huge confidence booster.”
Michael Yoast, who didn’t start the game but came in to play third when Ruch took the mound, stepped up. Yoast laced a single in the third base gap, ensuring at least a run would score but a misplay in the outfield turned the single into a three-run play that ended with Yoast on third base.
A sac fly by Marc Macione scored Yoast to put Roslyn up 7-5.
“I was just trying to drive in a run, the bases were loaded and we were down,” Yoast said. “I just wanted to get an RBI in there, the left field misplayed it which was unfortunate for them, but it worked out.
“They were a great team, you have to give them credit, they came back every time we went up. We just stayed hot and kept hitting.”
Yardley-Morrisville tied the game up in the top of the seventh, in the process chasing Ruch from the hill and bringing Duddy in to pitch. The Sharks used a squeeze bunt to tie the game on Duddy’s first batter but he held serve there.
Roslyn loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning, with Connor Hall battling to draw a clutch two-out walk as the third runner and again bring up Yoast. Yoast got a great swing on a pitch from Martin, but Seibert ran down the fly ball deep in center field to save the game.
Seibert continued to be a thorn in the Blue Hawks’ side when he singled home Justin Fogel as the go-ahead run in the top half of the eighth inning against Duddy. The outfielder reached base all five times he came up and scored two runs to go with the RBI.
“It was nothing I said, it was more Griffin Wittenberg, he rallied the whole team and said it wasn’t over,” Troyer said. “We’d lost a walk-off so I think they were eager to get a walk off and equalize it.
“Mike Yoast had that big hit that I thought it was over the center fielder’s head but he made a tremendous catch, gets his team back into it and I thought that might have just taken the wind out of our sails. For the guys to battle not only to get the run back but win the game was phenomenal.”
Macione led off the eighth with a single and scored on a one-out base knock by Ruch. With two men on, Yardley-Morrisville walked Joe DiMaria to load the bags and put Duddy at the plate.
After popping up the inning before, Duddy was looking to do damage this time.
“I wasn’t expecting a curve ball but he threw a curve ball, it was hanging and one of my strengths is getting the ball in the air,” Duddy said. “That’s what I wanted to do and exactly what I did. We have to have the same mentality as today, just keep fighting to the end of the game no matter what the score is.”