HATFIELD TWP. — Hatfield-Towamencin coach Kevin Harder gave Jack Picozzi two options in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“I said ‘Jack, you want to bunt – sac bunt – or you want to smoke the ball?’” Harder said. “He said ‘I want to smoke the ball coach.’ And he did.”
Picozzi came through with a clutch hit that had eluded the Titans in the previous innings, belting a ball to right center field for a double, scoring Jacob Martinell from second base to give H-T a 3-2 walk-off victory over Perkiomen Tuesday night at School Road Park.
“I had a lot of confidence that I was going to come through there,” Picozzi said. “I really felt like I was due for a hit there. I felt like I was just missing a few pitches and I got a good one to hit and I didn’t miss that one.”
In a matchup of the last two one-loss sides in the Bux-Mont American Legion, both teams plated two runs in the second then could not break the stalemate despite each getting quality opportunities to do so until Picozzi finally provided the extra-inning winner.
The Titans (6-1 league) stranded a runner on third in the fifth then left the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh. Perkiomen (7-2) could not convert with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the eighth and left seven on base in the final three frames.
“It was really tough, it was really frustrating cause we had a lot of chances to come through there but we didn’t,” Picozzi said. “But I didn’t have any doubts that we were going to win that game. I knew we were going to come up with a hit when it was needed and I got a chance and I took advantage of it.”
With teams starting with a runner on second in extras, a Quinn Marett leadoff walk in the bottom of the eight put two on or Picozzi, who double in the give H-T a second straight win. The result gives the Titans the inside track in the race for the Bux-Mont regular-season title and with it one of the league’s two spots in the Region 2 Tournament.
“My thought process was the first good pitch I saw I was going to attack it,” Picozzi said. “I didn’t want to leave it up to any chance at all.”
Picozzi’s night got off to a scary start as the rising junior at North Penn took a pitch off his helmet in the bottom of the first but remained in the game. He reached bases three times, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.
“I was pretty shaken up when it happened,” said Picozzi, a rising junior at North Penn. “I kind of felt out of sorts but as the game progressed, I kind of felt myself coming back into it. And at the end I felt great.”
Marett, batting first in the H-T lineup, reached base on all five of his plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with three walks and a two-RBI double that pulled the Titans level in the second. Hatfield-Towamencin totaled five hits but drew 10 walks – one intentional – and had another two get on via hit by pitch.
“We worked the count and was able to get that starter out, which allowed us to make better at-bats later on,” Harder said. “You know thankfully we had a lot of good swings, we weren’t getting the results but we had the swings, right, and the approach was good too so we were working deep counts and we just couldn’t quite come through.
“A lot of these guys just came back from senior week so some of them are still making that little bit of an adjustment getting back to playing again.”
The Titans are back at School Road Park Wednesday for a doubleheader against Doylestown beginning at 6 p.m. Perkiomen hosts Nor-Gwyn 7 p.m. Thursday.
Both of the starting pitchers Tuesday ended up with no decisions but each had solid performances.
H-T’s Charlie Marger bounced back after giving up a pair of runs in the top of the second to throw straight 1-2-3 innings. He threw six-plus innings, surrendered two runs – both earned – on five hits, hit two batters, struck out five and did not allow a walk.
“I left the ball up a little bit, they were jumping on that,” Marger said. “It was really right down the middle so, I mean, you can hit that. So once I got the ball back down in the zone I was just dealing and doing my thing and it felt comfortable.
“The curveball started working, threw some nasty pitches, got some good strikeouts and just was dealing, felt good.”
Perkiomen’s Malachi Duka gave up two runs – both earned – on one hit in five innings. He walked six, hit two batters and struck out seven.
Mike Lennon earned the win for H-T pitching two innings of relief. The left-handed West Chester commit came in with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the seventh. After a sacrifice bunt put the go-ahead run at second, Lennon walked Logan Smith but struck out the next two batters.
In the top of the eighth, a Malachi Duka leadoff sac bunt gave Perk a runner at third with one out. After a groundout back to Lennon, an intentional walk to Martin and a Ryan Peterson walk loaded the bases. Lennon, however, got a strikeout to keep things 2-2.
Perkiomen’s Conor Martin – who finished 2-for-3 with a walk – began the top of the second with a single then went to third as Blake Gehman followed with a single down the third-base line – Gehman advancing to second on the throw the third. Martin scored on Zach Gehman’s RBI infield single up the middle while a Smith RBI sac fly to left put Perk up 2-0.
Hatfield-Towamencin answered in its half of the second when Marett made it 2-2 by connecting on a two-out double to center field to bring home both Aidan Hoy and Nick Koch.
In the sixth, the Titans loaded the bases with one out on a Koch single up the middle, Sean Brennan walked and Marett singled to left but a strikeout and force out at second on a fielder’s choice kept things even.
Colin Orndoff began the H-T half of the seventh with a double to center. The home side again loaded the bases after consecutive two-out walks to Hoy and Koch – the latter intentional – but a pop up to the catcher in foul territory sent the game to the eighth.