UPPER PROVIDENCE — Tyler Lizell has his own guiding principle at the plate.
“For me I just think wait back, take it oppo every single time,” he said. “And that’s what, some reason it just helps me hit it no matter where it is, even if I turn on it, still just that’s what I do.”
The approach worked to perfection in the bottom of the fifth inning, Lizell sending a ball into right field for an opposite-field RBI triple to give Fort Washington a 12-6 lead over Falls in their Pennsylvania American Legion Region 3 Tournament elimination game.
“I stayed on it, waited back, cause I knew I saw a curveball out of his hand,” Lizell said. “And just took it oppo again.”
The hit, the last for both Lizell and the Golden Generals Monday afternoon, became a very necessary bit of insurance as Falls stage a late rally before Fort held on to secure a 12-11 victory at Ram Stadium.
“It was back and forth the whole game,” Lizell said. “We would hit the crap out of the ball then they would and we would again. Made a little too many errors today but we overcame them with our hitting.”
Lizell was a home run short of the cycle, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored and also earned the win pitching in relief. Chase Trimm added another 3-for-3 at the plate for the Generals, who collected 14 hits to overcome pitching and fielding struggles to reach the tournament’s final day.
“We just hit well this whole tournament, which has been fantastic,” Fort Washington coach Gary Bonitatibus said. “And you’re right, the hitting just carried us today cause we still walked too many guys and too many errors and gave them way too many extra base runners cause they didn’t have that many hits. And we had some wild pitches in there so it just wasn’t the way we play. Fortunately we were able to overcome that with our hitting today.”
Fort advances to face Whitemarsh – which beat Northampton 10-5 Monday night – in an elimination game noon Monday at Ram Stadium. Winner moves on to face Northampton later Monday for the Region 3 title and a spot in the state tournament.
“That’s what I told the kids, it doesn’t matter who it is we got to just play our game and see what happens,” Bonitatibus said. “We can play solid defense and throw strikes and make other teams hit the ball and not give them baserunners then they way we’re swinging the bats I feel like we can hang with anybody at this point.”
Falls scored three runs to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the fourth. The Generals, however, responded with four in the bottom of the inning to go back up 9-6 then tacked on three more in the fifth for a six-run edge.
But the Dirtbags took advantage of Fort miscues in the top of the sixth to pull within 12-10. A two-out error going for a force out at second allowed LJ Nelson to score. After a Chase Stover single loaded the bases, George Cairns came home on a wild pitch to make it 12-9. Two more scored when Mateo Areteaga reached on an error.
With one out in the seventh, Nelson was hit by a pitch for the third time in the contest then scored two batters later when Cairns crushed a two-out RBI double to deep right center. The next batter, however, grounded out and Fort kept its season’s going with its third consecutive win since falling 14-12 to Northampton in its region opener last Friday.
“We feel great because last two years we’ve lost in the championship, just in regular (Lower Montco) playoffs so this is first time we’ve made it in a while,” Lizell said. “And to make it this far is really awesome for us.”
Falls totaled six hits but drew nine walks, had another three runners via hit by pitch and was also helped by five Fort Washington errors. Cairns went 2-for-2 with three walks, two RBIs and a run scored while Nelson scored four runs.
Ryan Deal was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored for the Generals. Nate Dennis went 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored while David Sharp finished 2-for-4 with two runs. Trimm collected a trio of singles and was also intentionally walked in the fifth.
“We always come up with the mindset of attacking the first strike,” said Lizell, an Upper Dublin grad who is looking to walk on to Gettysburg College’s baseball team. “So whether that’s early in the count of late in the count and we have some good hitters and we’ve seen good pitching this whole tournament so we’re used to it. And we’re hitting the crap out of the ball right now.”
Lizell picked up the pitching win, throwing two innings of relief of starter Sharp. Lizell allowed four runs – none earned – on three hits, walked one and struck out two.
Falls took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a Cairns bases-loaded walk but Fort answered with a four-spot in its half of the inning. Deal knotted the contest 1-1 with his RBI single then scored to put the Generals ahead after a Lizell single and an error. RBI singles from Trimm and Mark O’Brien made it 4-1.
In the top of the third, the Dirtbags cut their deficit to 4-3 as a wild pitch brought in Nelson while an errant throw to third allowed Jake Schilling home. Lizell scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the frame to put Fort up 5-3.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Michael Burns walked, Nelson was hit by a pitch and Schilling walked to load the bases. After Burns came home on a wild pitch, Cairns walked to again pack the bases. James Baker followed by getting a ball through the infield’s left side for a two-RBI single, giving Falls a 6-5 lead.
But Fort Washington had another four-run responded in its half of the fourth. Dennis connected for a one-out triple and scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Deal drew a walk, Gabe Franczyk singled and both came home when Lizell doubled for an 8-6 lead. Trimm’s single and an error allowed Lizell home, extending the margin to 9-6.
In the bottom of the fifth, Sharp singled with one out, stole second then scored as Dennis reached on an error. Deal hit an RBI double to right on the next at-bat while two batters later Lizell’s two-out RBI triple made it 12-6 Fort.