Perkasie Baseball Club blew open a close game to defeat the Buckingham Patriots 13-4 in a second round game of the Bux-Mont Baseball Classic on Wednesday. Photos provided courtesy of Kim Supko. Check back for a gallery of photos.
PERKASIE BASEBALL CLUB 13, BUCKINGHAM PATRIOTS 4
Sean Clayton made hitting look easy.
The recent Pennridge grad was 4-for-4 out of the cleanup spot with a home run and four RBIs in Wednesday’s win in game two of the Bux-Mont Baseball Classic. It wasn’t always that easy this summer for Clayton, who is playing for Rake Baseball Academy in the Pendel League.
“I was 0-for-19 – I haven’t gotten a hit in seven games, I haven’t gotten on base once,” said Clayton, who will continue his baseball career at Bucks County Community College. “So I came into this game thinking – I need to get a hit. I got a double on Monday night (against Indians Baseball), but I knew I wasn’t done.
“After my first at-bat, I felt really confident. (Pendel) is a wood bat league, and I was doing too much. I was in my own head. I felt real good tonight, I saw the ball real well.”
Clayton had an RBI single in a four-run first after the Buckingham Patriots – thanks to singles by Cole Allen and Brett Young (RBI) – took a 1-0 lead. Kyle Moran opened the first with a single to left, and the bases were loaded after Ray Knight and Paul Croyle drew back-to-back walks. Moran scored on Clayton’s single to left. Another run crossed the plate when Sean Lerro drew a bases-loaded walk. Aidan Fretz’s sacrifice fly to right plated Croyle, and Clayton scored on Shea Grourke’s groundout.
The Buckingham Patriots knotted the score 4-4, thanks to a three-run third that was not without controversy. Allen drew a leadoff walk and stole second. An error on Tyler Young’s grounder plated Allen, and then came a blast to center by Brett Young that was ruled a two-run home run. Clayton - who plays center field for Pennridge Baseball - raised his arms to indicate the ball had bounced over the fence for a ground rule double. The base umpire didn’t see it that way.
“Emotions were running real high between myself and left fielder Kyle Moran – we both were pretty upset about it,” Clayton said. “We kind of used that as motivation and fuel.”
No one had forgotten Monday’s 10-5 loss to Souderton in a game Pennridge Baseball led 5-0 early, and the players were determined there would be no reruns.
“My left fielder and I were talking about it – we said, ‘If we start walking people, it will be the same thing’ because that’s what happened last time,” Clayton said. “Luckily, our hitters stayed behind our pitchers. Nick Christ did a really good job on the mound – he stayed solid.”
Christ’s performance all but got lost in the shuffle of Pennridge Baseball’s offensive outburst, but the senior pitcher’s response to the controversial home run call was key. Instead of coming undone after Young’s home run, Christ struck out the side and five of the next six batters he faced.
“I totally thought it was a ground rule double, and I was like, ‘Okay, that’s fine,’ but then I was like, ‘Oh wow, he called that a home run, but you know what – why let this energy go negative, make it positive,’” Christ said. “It kind of revved me up a little more. That home run just fired us all up. It was just crazy.”
“Nick is an emotional pitcher,” Pennridge Baseball coach Craig Whitten said. “You could see him gear up with his fast balls, finishing his curveballs, throwing his change-ups where they’re supposed to be.
“The first two innings he left 0-2 pitches or 1-2 pitches right over the plate, and they made him pay for it. I told him, ‘You have to come with something better 0-2.’ He came back.”
Pennridge Baseball put two unearned runs on the board in the fourth to go on top 6-4. In the frame, Moran delivered an RBI single, and Knight doubled down the left field line to plate the second run. Clayton led off the fifth with a no-doubt-about-it solo shot over the fence in deep center, giving Pennridge Baseball a three-run advantage.
“Clayton wanted this one, he wanted this one bad,” Whitten said. “He’s another emotional hitter.
“I love the kids playing with emotion, I love the kids coming up in big spots. Not having a spring season puts things in perspective that every at-bat can be their last career at-bat.”
Pennridge Baseball put the game away with a six-run sixth. Bobby Croyle opened the inning with a double to left, and Derek Morgan drew a walk. An error loaded the bases, but it looked as though Buckingham could see its way out of the inning after a strikeout and forceout at the plate with no runs across.
Clayton had other ideas, delivering a clutch two-out single to center that scored a pair. A pair of bases-loaded walks pushed two more runs across, and Morgan’s two-run double gave Pennridge Baseball its final margin of victory.
“We cut down the strikeouts a lot – we only had one looking strikeout tonight compared to five on Monday,” Clayton said. “We had really good approaches. No one was trying to destroy the ball. We had a lot of good hits.”
Christ fanned seven in four innings and rising junior Aidan Fretz, who closed it out with three shutout innings, struck out five.
“Fretz is pitching for a bunch of other teams, and he gave us his availability for Wednesday,” Whitten said. “I’ve seen him pitch live a bullpen, but that’s about it. To see him out here, we have two more years with him, so it’s nice. This was a good bounce-back game.”
Although the Buckingham Patriots came up short, Cole Allen acknowledged it was good to be back on the diamond.
“This means a lot to us,” said the recent CB East grad, who will be attending Penn State but not playing baseball. “Having to lose our season and not be able to have that bonding experience with our teammates – get to compete, get to go to school and play every day after it, it definitely hurt.
“We’re all getting over it at this point. Being able to play and just have fun – get to play positions we don’t usually play, it’s really good. I’m glad we’re doing it. All the underclassmen – we get to see them one last time. That’s definitely really good.”
Prior to the game, Pennridge Baseball recognized the team’s seniors in front of a partisan crowd at James Memorial Park.
“It’s great,” Clayton said. “Ten or 12 of our friends came, so that was really nice to have them supporting us.
“We have a great family system. We’ve all been friends forever, so it was nice to see everybody out.”
Perkasie Baseball Club will host Allentown RBI on Friday at James Memorial Park (7 p.m.), and the Buckingham Patriots will host Casey’s Place Hooligans at Tri-Township Field on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
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