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Big first inning lifts Parkland past Bears

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    Pleasant Valley’s Nick Ciszak applies the tag to Parkland’s Phil Schoch at second base. Schoch was out stealing on the play. DON HERB/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published May 23. 2019 01:36PM

OREFIELD – The way Parkland came out swinging, it looked like it was going to floor Pleasant Valley for an early 10-count — or in high school baseball terms, roll to a 10-run mercy rule victory.

But looks can be deceiving.

The Bears’ pitching and defense responded on Wednesday after a rough start and kept Parkland bats quiet the rest of the way.

Unfortunately, Pleasant Valley’s offense just didn’t respond. True to this season’s ills, the Bears’ hitting was not to be found.

Parkland (14-8) used the splendid pitching from ace Adam Smith and rode a first-inning offensive explosion to a 5-0 quarterfinal victory in the District 11 Class 6A baseball tournament.

The way the game unfolded wasn’t what the Bears were hoping for, as assistant coach TJ Murphy knew his team was in deep water after just one inning of play.

“We’ve not a team that can fall that far behind,” said Murphy after watching the season come to an end at 13-9. “We really struggled to hit the baseball this year, and that was evident today.”

Toss out the first inning, and the Bears were right smack in the hunt. Credit pitcher Tyler Horton for sticking around with a lot of savvy and heart. Horton didn’t crumble after early troubles. Instead, he proceeded to dig his heels in and went the better part of the way.

“Tyler Horton has come a long way for us. He’s thrown a lot of big games for us,” said Murphy. “He lost 2-1 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs, and lost 3-2 early this year to Liberty. He’s really come into his own. He’s a senior, and he’s owned it.”

Horton allowed just two hits and no runs after the first inning. The right-hander fanned five and walked one before departing with two outs in the sixth after a 93-pitch outing.

That effort wasn’t lost on Parkland and its manager Kurt Weber.

“It was very similar to the first time we played these guys,” said Weber. “We scored one, and then two, and then nothing. Horton really did a good job.

“This was the first time we faced him. I’ve been watching line scores, and he’s done a really good job throughout the season.”

Weber felt at ease somewhat when his team got back-to-back hits from Jeremy Piatkiewicz and freshman Blake Barthol to open the home first. Matt Ervolina then laid down a bunt that the Bears booted to load the bases.

Joe Webber quickly seized the moment and drove in a run with a single, Austin Imlor singled home another run, and a fly out produced a third run, before George Jenkins capped the outburst with a two-run single that made it 5-0.

“It was very important that we scored those early runs,” said Weber. “We’ve scuffled a bit scoring this season; that’s why we were decided to bunt and try to manufacture runs early.”

After that early uprising, Horton was at the top of his game. He hit a batter in the second, and retired five straight before allowing a Phil Schoch single in the fourth. The only other batter to reach base was in the fifth on another hit batter.

Horton departed the game in a classy move by Murphy, who brought in reliever Trev Knappenberger for the final out in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“That was such great effort, it’s too bad that we couldn’t get him any support,” said Murphy about Horton’s final high school appearance.

SCORING DROUGHT … After the first inning, the run production was never in sight by either team as both pitchers were in control. There wasn’t an extra-base hit in the game.

SPARY HITTING … The Bears had all singles in their five-hit attack. Nick Ciszak led the way with two, while Brandon Batti, Dallas Greenzweig and Matt Burnett each had one. Parkland’s top hitter came from the nine hole as Schock had a pair of singles. Piatkiewicz, Barthol, Weber and Jenkins each singled once.

REMEMBER HIS NAME … Parkland, which graduates over 800 students, has a potential big timer in third baseman Barthol — and he’s only a freshman.

Pleasant Vy. 000 000 0 - 0 5 1

Parkland 500 000 x - 5 6 0

Horton, Knappenberger (6) and Greenzweig; Smith, Staivecki (7) and Jenkins. W - Smith. L - Horton.

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