Plymouth’s Chris Pollick scores in the ninth inning of Game 1 against Abington. On the day, Pollick had eight RBI and threw 191 pitches in two games.
Kris Moules (left) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the ninth inning of the first game of the Region 5 championship. Abington rallied to win the contest in the bottom of the frame, but Plymouth prevailed in Game 2.Fred Adams photos/For The Times Leader
SCRANTON — There’s an old adage that baseball is a funny game.
That couldn’t have been more appropriate on Wednesday during the final day of the Region 5 American Legion Tournament.
Plymouth went from being deflated and exhausted to being exuberant.
After losing a heartbreaking 9-8 game in the morning to Abington, forcing a second and decisive championship tilt, Plymouth came back to claim its second regional championship in three years with a wild 24-20 victory.
The second game, which lasted nearly four hours, consisted of 15 pitchers taking the mound, 421 pitches being thrown and eight home runs.
“It was a long day,” said Abington coach Bill Zalewski. “These were just two baseball teams that hate to lose, and you just hope that you can come out on top. And unfortunately we weren’t the ones that won, but it was just two great baseball teams. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Plymouth advances to the state tournament, July 28-Aug. 1 in Boyertown.
To get to that tournament however, Plymouth had to fight adversity.
The team looked like a fish out of water, hoping for someone to throw it back in the ocean, as Abington used a come-from-behind win in the first game on a three-run, walk-off home run by Joel Rosencrance to earn a 9-8 victory.
The hit by Rosencrance came on a 1-0 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
It was Plymouth’s first loss in the double-elimination tournament.
“The attitude was really down after the first game and I didn’t know when or if we were going to get up for the second game,” Plymouth manager T.J. Carlin said.
Abington, which features 15 players from the Abington Heights PIAA Class 3A championship team, played the second game as visitors and started off with another homer, as Cory Spangenberg blasted a two-run shot to put the defending regional champs up 2-0.
Plymouth came back with a run in the bottom of the first, but Abington plated four more in the second to go up 6-1 with hopes of finishing off the Wyoming Valley League runners-up. But it didn’t work out that way.
Plymouth didn’t lead until scoring six runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up 17-14. Abington held leads of 6-3 after the second inning, 9-5 after three innings of play and 12-11 after five.
Plymouth got to Abington pitchers using two-out hits. The champions scored 11 of their 24 runs with two outs and batted around in the sixth and seventh innings, when it scored six and five runs, respectively.
“We knew we were going to have to hit because nobody really had any pitching left,” Carlin said. “We won one of these to get into this tournament and I had confidence in my kids that we can hit with anybody in the region.”
While Ken Durling led the way offensively for Plymouth in the second game with two home runs and seven RBI, Chris Pollick would have grabbed an ironman award if the tournament distributed one.
The Wyoming Valley West grad put forth a gutsy effort. He was the starting pitcher in the first game and threw 155 pitches in seven innings before coming back to throw 36 more pitches in the nightcap in another 1 1/3 innings, asking Carlin to give him the ball.
To cap it off, he was a beast at the plate, going a combined 4-for-9 with eight RBI on the day.
“I’m tired now, but the reward is great,” said Pollick, who will attend Kutztown in the fall. “My arm felt really good. My legs, on a hot day like this were tired, but my arm was good.”
Spangenberg was the top hitter for Abington combining to go 6-for-8, scoring nine runs and driving in 11 on the day. In the second game alone, he blasted three home runs.
George Alles, the losing pitcher in the first game, pitched a scoreless sixth inning to earn the win in the second game. Shane Gavrish preserved the victory with a two-inning save.
Legion State Tournament
July 28-Aug. 1, Boyertown