DOWNINGTOWN - The Ches-Mont League National Division baseball race is on.
Downingtown West catcher Max Edgin firmly took care of that Wednesday afternoon as he launched an eighth inning first-pitch Pierce Greenleaf fastball over the center field fence for a thrilling 6-5 victory over first place Downingtown East.
The victory puts Downingtown West (8-4 Ches-Mont, 8-4 overall) only one game behind the Cougars (11-3, 11-3) in the loss column with more than two weeks to go in the season.
"It was a belt high fastball that was little outside,' Edgin said. "I hit a first pitch fastball for a double in the first inning off Sigovich (starter Eric) so I was just going up looking for a fastball and something I could drive.'
Drive it Edgin did, setting off a wild celebration of Whippets that met Edgin at home plate and mobbed the West catcher. The Whippets came back from a 5-4 deficit to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Ken Jaremma roped an RBI single to center field with two out, scoring Joey Mejias with the tying run.
A couple of innings earlier it looked like the Cougars would salt the game away and extend their division lead. With the game tied at 3-3 going into the top of the fifth inning, the Cougars, who had been down 3-0 earlier in the game, courtesy of a Calvin Sparhawk three-run homer, took the lead off Whippet starter Sean Esch.
Jesse Alba led off the inning with a single to right field. Spencer Cobb then made the first out by popping up a bunt. Kyle Ajjam stuck out for the second out, but Alba stole second base to put him in scoring position. Ryan Taylor then laced an RBI single to center to score Alba. One batter later Nick Amicon drove a triple to the left field fence scoring Taylor and it was a 5-3 Cougar lead. It was Amicon's second hit of the day.
"We got a little down when they scored those runs in the fifth inning,' Edgin said. "But I looked at my dad who always says "Get them up' and coach Oleszek told us not to get down to keep playing baseball and we came back.'
Jason Borosky launched a center field home run off Sigovich in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 5-4 Cougar lead and you could feel the Ches-Mont race teetering in the balance.
But, going to the seventh, Sigovich looked strong and all the Cougars needed was three more outs. They proved hard to come by. Sparhawk led off the seventh with a clean single. Then, Sigovich walked Toby Welk to put runners on first and second with no one out. With Sigovich in trouble, Cougar coach Pete Susi went to Greenleaf to put out the fire.
Greenleaf got two outs and it looked like the Cougars would survive. But, Jaremma creamed a Greenleaf fastball to center for an RBI single and the game went to extra innings, setting up Edgin's heroics. But, not before Downigntown West pitcher Sean Esch had to get two outs with a runner on second in the top of the eighth when Ryan Rumor drilled a two out double off the center field fence. Esch got Spencer Zuraski swinging to end the inning and all that was left was Edgin's rocket.
"This team works so hard in the off season and these kids do everything I ask of them,' Downingtown West coach Dave Oleszek said. "We deserve to be in the race because these kids are scrappy and to not give up. We got down a little when they put those runs up in the fifth but I told them it is baseball and anything can happen so just keep playing.'
With their league lead cut down by their crosstown rivals Cougar coach Pete Susi talked to his team for a long time after the game.
"I was real proud of the kids the way they came back from being down 3-0 early,' Susi said. "It was a great high school baseball game. You cannot control the wind or the weather and you have to tip your cap to them.'
Downingtown West 6
Downingtown East 5, 8 innings
EAST ab r h bi WEST ab r h bi
Ajjam 1b 4 1 0 0 Borosky cf 4 1 1 1
Taylor cf 4 2 2 3 Jaremma ss 4 0 2 1
Amicon ss 4 0 2 3 Jankowski 2b 3 0 0 0
Sigovich p 3 0 0 0 Edgin c 4 1 2 1
Greenleaf p 1 0 0 0 Mejias pr 0 2 0 0
Marrollo lf 3 0 0 0 Carbone 1b 2 0 0 0
Rumer ph 1 0 1 0 Esch p 0 0 0 0
Baxley 3b 4 0 1 0 Murphy dh 2 1 0 0
Zuraski rf 4 1 1 0 Sparhawk lf 3 1 2 3
Alba 2b 3 1 1 0 Welk 3b 2 0 0 0
Cobb c 3 0 1 0 Montgomery rf 2 0 0 0
Conrad ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 34 5 9 5 Totals 27 6 7 6
Sigovch pitched to two batters in seventh inning.
Downingtown East 003 020 00-5
Downingtown West 030 010 11-6
2B-Taylor, Rumer, Edgin. 3B-Amicon. HR-Sparhawk, Borosky, Edgin.
Downingtown East IP R H BB SO
Sigovich 6 5 7 2 8
Greenleaf, L 1 1 2 1 1
Esch, W 7 5 9 0 8