UPPER GWYNEDD — Pat Carney had all three of his pitches doing wonders on Tuesday night, and his Collegeville teammates finally broke through against Nor-Gwyn right-hander Chris Rollins in the top of the seventh inning.
Mike Kelly's RBI double broke a scoreless deadlock, Kelly later scored on a wild pitch, and Carney polished off a complete-game gem in the bottom half, leading the fourth-seeded White Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Packers in Game Two of their quarterfinal, best-of-five Perky League playoff series.
The win gave Collegeville a commanding 2-0 series lead, with Game Three set for Wednesday night at Collegeville.
"We're in a good spot. We still gotta get the third one," White Sox player/manager Brian Hartsell said. "It's a five-game series for a reason. You can't get dumb, fat and happy."
Collegeville earned it the hard way Tuesday night at Hostelley Field, finally scratching a couple runs across in its final at-bat.
Rollins had done all he could to give his team one more chance.
"Chris did a heck of a job. He threw 130 or 140 pitches, got no run support, and threw a great six and two thirds innings. You can't ask for more than that," said Nor-Gwyn manager Tony "Pep" DiBricida. "We have to hit. It was a great pitchers' duel. We had chances the whole game to score. Right now, we're not executing. We're not bunting when we need to bunt. We're not moving runners when we need to move them. So we're our own worst enemy right now.
"But we're not dead until we're dead. We're gonna come back for Game Three. (Coming back from 2-0 is) nothing these guys haven't done before."
Nor-Gwyn captured the league title in 2017, Collegeville in 2019. The intensity and tightness of Tuesday's contest was typical for this rivalry.
"It was a really well-pitched game by both guys," Hartsell said. "It was two guys throwing a ton of strikes, battling hard, and it's one of those games where it's a shame to see somebody lose. But I'm glad we won."
Both pitchers were in complete control early.
In a battle of righties, Rollins allowed a leadoff, line-drive single by Mike Kelly (3-for-3, BB, R, RBI), but Shane Manieri charged in hard to catch a pop-up for out number one, Kelly was picked off at first, and a flyout ended the inning.
Rollins allowed a walk in the second inning but it did no damage.
Carney also cruised in the opening two frames.
He allowed a double by C.J. Gillmer in the first but ended the threat with a groundout and a strikeout, then retired the side in order in the second.
Collegeville put two men on in the fourth, and Nor-Gwyn did the same in the third and fourth, but still, the game remained scoreless.
Kelly's line-drive single gave the White Sox a chance in the fifth, but again Rollins was unflappable. Nor-Gwyn put a man on in the bottom half, but he too was left stranded.
Both pitchers retired the side in the sixth, setting up a pivotal seventh.
Cole Luzins walked to lead things off for the White Sox. Rollins struck out Matt Altieri and got Hartsell to hit into a fielder's choice.
With two outs, Kelly belted a double to deep left, scoring Hartsell for a 1-0 lead. Kelly later came in to score on the wild pitch to make it 2-0.
"We made something happen," Hartsell said. "Mike Kelly swung the bat really well tonight and thankfully, he was up in a big spot."
The White Sox had full confidence Carney would lock it down.
"I don't think he threw more than 75 pitches and I'll bet ya 85 percent of them were strikes," Hartsell said. "He threw a fantastic game."
The Lansdale Catholic product came into the game on a full week's rest.
Said Carney, who allowed one run off of six hits while striking out four and walking two: "I felt loose. I got here early, excited to get throwing."
Carney's change-up, slider and fastball were all doing their job.
After Billy Collins sparked the No. 5 Packers with a lead-off, pinch-hit double to start the bottom of the seventh (he would score on a ground ball by Anthony Kelly to make it 2-1), Carney retired three in a row to end it.
"Huge win for the guys. Just happy that we could get it done," Carney said. "I didn't think (Rollins) was gonna stop. A lot of pitches for him tonight. (This win is) huge. They're a good team so to be up 2-0 with only one game left to win is huge for us."
Max Hitman went 2-for-3 for the Packers. Rollins limited Collegeville to four hits (three by Kelly, the other by Drew Frankenfield) while striking out eight and walking seven.