UPPER GWYNEDD — It was a longer day at Hostelley Field than Nor-Gwyn wanted to have Saturday afternoon. But the Hawks made sure all that time did not result a quick exit from the Bux-Mont American Legion playoffs.
Top-seeded Nor-Gwyn was knocked off in its postseason opener by No. 4 Quakertown 3-1 in eight innings. The Hawks, however, produced early offense and got a strong pitching performance from Eric Hamilton to bounce back with a 6-1 victory over No. 6 Plumstead to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
“After that first game frustrated a lot of us, so obviously the second game is going to be something that we’re going to be dreading a little bit,” Hawks right fielder Steve Corrado said. “Just cause of one game’s already played, it’s a hot day. But we always want to come out knowing we want the win here, especially for the playoffs.”
Nor-Gwyn scored four runs in the bottom of the first against Plumstead then added another two in the third on Corrado’s two-RBI double. Hamilton, meanwhile, retired the first 10 batters he faced in throwing a four-hit, complete-game victory.
“Obviously coming off the first game, everyone was a little tired but I just gutted it out,” said Hamilton, who struck out five and did not allow a walk. “Knew I had to throw seven. Just got out there and shoved it.”
The Hawks, who have already clinched a Region 2 tournament berth via the Bux-Mont regular-season title, now have to win four games in the two days to complete the league double. That starts with a matchup with No. 5 Doylestown Sunday at Upper Perkiomen.
Winner of that contest faces the loser of the either Hatfield-Towamencin or Quakertown later Sunday.
After Quakertown snapped Nor-Gwyn seven-game win streak, the Hawks got off to a quick start against Plumstead. With one out in the bottom of the first Jeff Sabater reached on an error, Evin Sullivan was hit by a pitch while another error allowed Sam Cohen on, loading the bases.
Joey Christian’s RBI sacrifice fly plated Sabater with two more coming home on Ryan Sullivan’s triple to right for a 3-0 lead. Cohen scored to make it 4-0 when Corrado got to first after a two-out error.
“I feel like this game more than ever we had kind of had the mindset we need to put up our runs first before we start messing around or anything because this is obviously double elimination," Corrado said.
The four-spot was more than enough for Hamilton but Nor-Gwyn tacked on a pair of runs in the third. Cohen was hit by a pitch with one out while Ryan Sullivan kept the inning going with a two-out walk. Corrado followed by sending a pitch into right center for a two-run double and a 6-0 lead.
“I feel like even over the past month or too I haven’t felt the best about my swing or anything so it felt great to just at least get one,” said Corrado, a North Penn grad heading to Penn State Abington. “I believe that was one of my first doubles this legion season. So it’s always going to feel good, especially now after that first game – I was very frustrated.”
Hamilton was perfect through 3 1/3 innings before an error gave Plumstead its first baserunner in the top of the fourth. Two batters later Kyle Campbell – who went 2-for-3 with a double – ended both the righty’s no-hit and shutout bids with a two-out RBI single.
Plumstead collected two singles to put two on with one out in the sixth but the Hawks turned a 5-3 double play to maintain their 6-1 advantage. Campbell started the seventh with a double to center but Hamilton retired the next three – capping the complete-game win with a strikeout.
“Early on I think the curve was working really well,” Hamilton said. “I had some nice strikeouts on it. The fastball as well, but definitely the curve was working.”
Quakertown 3, Nor-Gwyn 1 (8 innings) >> Saturday’s opener at Hostelley was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when Hawks pinch runner Johnny Carson came home on a wild pitch.
But in the top of the seventh, Anthony Rostick’s one-out RBI single pulled Quakertown level and the Blue Jays struck for two more runs in the eighth – the first coming on Peyton Kuchel’s two-out RBI double – to reach the winners’ bracket final.
Both teams received quality efforts from their starting pitcher. Quakertown’s Vince Pellegrini got the victory allowing one run – earned – on six hits in seven innings. The righty struck out four and walked two. Cody Barberio had two strikeouts as he pitched the eighth to get the save.
“I feel like a lot of the game we were hitting the ball very well and putting the ball and they were catching it,” Corrado said. “But he (Pellegrini) was mixing his pitches very well and that fooled a lot of us.”
Nor-Gwyn left-hander Gavin Mikulski threw all eight innings, giving up three runs – two earned – on five hits. The Eastern University commit walked one and struck out four.
“I felt I was able to keep hitters off balance a lot cause I was throwing changeups, I was throwing curveballs for strikes especially in counts where they didn’t think I was going to throw them,” Mikulski said. “So I thought that I had an advantage there but in the later innings they definitely got a hold of me there.”
Christian and RJ Agriss both went 2-for-4 for Nor-Gwyn. Ty Everitt finished 2-for-4 with a run scored for the Blue Jays.
Cohen started the bottom of the sixth with double to left center. Cohen’s pinch runner Carson went to third on Christian’s bunt single then score on a wild pitch lead – Christian getting caught in a rundown on the play – for a 1-0 Hawks lead.
Everitt led off the seventh with an infield single, stole second and advanced to third on Pellegrini’s fly out to center. After a Ben Eichorn walk, Rostick tied the game by lining a single into right, scoring Everitt with Eichorn going to third.
Eichorn attempted to score on a fly out to left but Hawks left fielder Ryan Sullivan’s throw home was on target for the 7-2 double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, Agriss hit a two-out single to right but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice on the next at-bat.
With teams getting a runner on second in extra innings, Jake Dulis advanced to third on Tyler Neilson’s one-out fly out to right. Kuchel followed with the winning hit – dropping a double into right center to score Dulis. An error on Brandon Pierce’s grounder the next at-bat plated Kuchel from second for a 3-1 Quakertown lead.
“After thinking about that game that was fourth my fourth time around the lineup so I think they just got a hold of me there,” Mikulski said. “I was definitely leaking oil. I think I was running out of energy going into that last inning. Can’t be upset, I threw a good pitch to that two hitter, he put a good swing on it – put it in a spot where no one could catch it. Just the hat’s off to him.”
In the bottom of the seventh, an Evin Sullivan groundout gave Nor-Gwyn a runner on third but Barberio struck out the next two batters.