Upper Darby 10, Wayne 6

Upper Darby Rallies to Stay Alive, Tops Wayne in Game 3

Joe Greenwich, DelcoLeague.com
 
MARPLE TOWNSHIP – When a team's back is against the wall, managers often have to resort to unorthodox tactics to give their team an edge.  Desperate times, etc.
 
Upper Darby's Dave Jerdon surely spent some time on Wednesday afternoon thinking about how to manage his team in a win-or-go-home Game 3 of the Delco League Championship Series.  Wednesday evening, he unintentionally stumbled upon something new: getting ejected.
 
Jerdon was tossed midway through a five-run top of the fourth inning for Wayne, but his Blue Sox rallied and scored nine runs in their final two innings to stun the defending champions, 10-6, and cut Wayne's lead to two games to one in the best-of-five series.
 
Upper Darby put two on in the bottom of the first, but Wayne's Mike Valente wriggled out of the jam.  He wasn't as lucky in the second, as Joe Suppa led off the frame with a solo home run to give Upper Darby its first lead of the series.
 
Johnny Gonzalez was cruising through three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth.  A leadoff double by Matt Briner was followed by an error that scored Briner with the tying run.  A Luke Zimmerman walk clearly met with disapproval from the Blue Sox bench, and Jerdon was issued his walking papers as a result.  Hits from Steven Wells and Sean Mohollen were compounded by two errors in the outfield; by the time Gonzalez was back in the dugout, Wayne had sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs, while the Blue Sox were down a manager.
 
But as quickly as he lost his groove, Gonzalez got it right back, sending Wayne down in order in the fifth before the Upper Darby offense finally broke out of its Championship Series slumber.  Dating back to Game 5 of last year's series, the Blue Sox had totaled two runs on six hits in three games; on Wednesday, UD would score six times and rap out six hits in the bottom of the fifth inning alone, all with two outs.
 
Valente retired the first two batters in short order before a Sammy Burman double and an RBI single from Christian Strickland – who was announced as the 2023 Delco League Most Valuable Player during the game – ended his night and cut the Wayne advantage to three.  Alex Pak came on from the bullpen and faced three hitters; Andrew Yates, Steve Theisen, and Suppa all singled, bringing home two more runs and making it a 5-4 game.
 
Wayne manager Brian Fili summoned Joe Peluso from the bullpen, but he fared no better, walking Max Anastasio to load the bases and Matt Querey to force in the tying run.  Pinch hitter Darren Hagan then ripped a double to left to score Suppa and Anastasio and put the Blue Sox ahead, 7-5.
 
UD tacked on three more in the sixth as Adam Fine singled and Burman walked before balks on consecutive pitches scored Fine and moved Burman to third.  Two batters later, Yates hit a no-doubter over the fence in right field to make it a 10-5 game.
 
Wayne put runners on base in the seventh, scoring one on an RBI single from Zimmerman, but that would be it.
 
Gonzalez went the distance for what was surely one of the least-expected complete games of his career; he allowed six runs – three of them earned – on six hits and three walks while striking out four in seven innings.  Pak took the loss, as the Wayne bullpen was charged with seven runs and allowed eight hits in an inning and a third of work.  Valente allowed three runs on five hits in four and two-thirds, striking out eight.
 
Game 4 is set for Thursday night at Cardinal O'Hara; first pitch is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.  A live audio stream will be available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIBcWdvohYg