PHS baseball team reaches title game
Parkland admittedly got a little help from a porous Liberty defense in the District 11 semifinal, but the Trojans took advantage of every little thing that the Hurricanes gave them on their way to a 7-5 win and a spot in the District 11 championship. The semifinal win also reserves a spot for Parkland in the PIAA tournament, which begins next week.
Liberty, the defending District 11 Class 6A champions, committed four errors in the game, three of them by shortstop Marcus Nales, and Parkland used each of the errors to add to its run tally.
“I know last year we had trouble sometimes taking advantage of mistakes but we’ve done better at that this season,” said Trojans centerfielder Cullan Wadsworth, who singled, doubled and walked while scoring three runs in the game. “That’s always important when you can take advantage of anything that the other team gives you.”
With two outs in the first inning, Adam Mellinger’s groundball to third was misplayed to extend the inning and bring Will Algard to the plate. Algard singled to left for the game’s first run. After Liberty starter Ian Dougherty retired the side in order in the second, Parkland added a run in the third on an RBI double from Wadsworth.
With Wadsworth on second and one out, Nales threw wildly to first on a groundball by Mellinger and then booted a groundball by Algard for another run. An infield hit by Matt Ervolina made it 4-0 and a wild pitch pushed the Parkland advantage to 6-0.
Ervolina’s hit went off the ankle of Dougherty, who had difficulty getting up after the play, but stayed in the game. After Dougherty walked Jerry Piatkiewicz, he was lifted in favor of Jack Rothenhausler.
Algard again reached on a throwing error in the fourth that brought home Christian Kinsley with two outs.
Liberty got to starter Adam Smith in the fifth inning when it bunched two doubles and two singles and then got a sacrifice fly from Justin Schmoyer off reliever Koby Staivecki to make it a 6-3 game.
Parkland came up with a big defensive play to end the inning when it caught Gonzalez attempting to advance to second on a throw to third. Wadsworth threw a strike to third and Piatkiewicz quickly fired to Kinsley at second to catch Gonzalez.
“Defense has helped us a lot and we’ve always played good defense to help us win games,” said Wadsworth. “Adam Smith pitched well other than that one inning where he got into some trouble, but when we can help our pitcher out with our gloves it’s great.”
Wadsworth singled and stole second with one out in the sixth and then scored on an RBI single to left by Dylan Miller to give Parkland what would turn out to be needed insurance with a 7-3 lead through six.
Nales, who helped to atone for his defensive miscues with a single and two doubles, doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out in the seventh. One out later, Grimaldi Gonzales lifted a sacrifice fly to left to make it 7-4 and Schmoyer followed with a base-hit through the middle to cut it to 7-5. With a runner on first and two out, Staivecki got the final out of the game on a flyball to right.
For Wadsworth, the win goes back to the fact that the Trojans were able to take advantage of mistakes and jump out to an early lead to put pressure on Liberty.
“It was very important, because if you don’t get up on this team early, they play with a lot of energy and they play hard,” said Wadsworth. “They kept chipping away and it definitely helped to be able play from ahead.”
The win put Parkland into the district finals against Freedom, with the Trojans looking for their first district championship since 2015.