Upper Darby 5, Wayne 4

Big First Inning All Blue Sox Need to Force Game Five

Joe Greenwich, DelcoLeague.com
 
MARPLE TOWNSHIP – At one point on Wednesday, Wayne was seven outs away from a Championship Series sweep of Upper Darby and a record 19th Delco League title.  A little more than 48 hours later, the defending champions have their first losing streak of the season, and the Blue Sox have picked themselves up off the mat and forced one final game for the title.
 
A five-run first inning made the difference as second-seeded Upper Darby held on for a 5-4 win over top-seeded Wayne at Cardinal O'Hara on Friday night, forcing a decisive Game 5 on Saturday afternoon.
 
Upper Darby took advantage of its second chance against Koll Peichel, scoring five times in the first inning.  After allowing two hits in five shutout innings in Game 1 on Sunday, Peichel ran into trouble almost immediately, as Sammy Burman hit a one-out single, moved to second on a fielding error, went to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a double by Christian Strickland, whose courtesy runner would eventually come in to score on two more wild pitches.
 
Steve Theisen and Joe Suppa followed with walks before Max Anastasio crushed a three-run home run to left center to give the hosts a 5-0 lead after one.
 
Wayne began to chip away in the second as Drew Van Horn drew a leadoff walk against Sam Wright, Matt Kane singled two batters later, and both came in to score on a double by Alden Mathes.  Wright and Peichel then combined to allow just four base runners over the next two innings.
 
Things tightened further in the top of the fifth.  Luke Zimmerman reached on a one-out single before a home run to dead center by Steven Wells brought the defending champions within one at 5-4.  Sean Mohollen followed with a single to chase Wright from the game; as he left, it seemed the momentum in the series was leaving with him.
 
Ben Thorpe came on and after getting ahead of Van Horn, hit him with a pitch before a fly ball allowed pinch runner Jake Siani to get to third with two down.  It was then Thorpe's turn to make way for Upper Darby's rubber-armed veteran, Johnny Gonzalez.  Two nights after throwing a complete game in Game 3 and a candidate to start Game 4, he instead came on in the fifth and retired Kane to end the threat and keep the Blue Sox on top.  He then sent down the next six in a row to shut the door and force a Game 5 that he will almost certainly be starting.
 
Wright allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out three in four and a third innings to earn the win; Peichel allowed five runs on five hits – with all five runs and three of the hits coming in the first inning – while fanning seven in four innings to take the loss.  Gonzalez earned the first save for either side in the series.
 
The decisive Game 5 is set for Saturday afternoon at Devon Prep, with first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m.  Live audio will be available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa9SbFI_1XE