RED HILL — After losing their first seven Pioneer Athletic Conference baseball games of the season, the Upper Perkiomen Indians were happy to get a win any way they could on Saturday afternoon.
Even if they had to put together a big come-from-behind rally in the bottom of the sixth inning with the help of some Pottstown mistakes in the field and a pop fly that fell in just beyond the infield that eventually proved to be the game-winning hit.
That was a two-out, two run single by Zach Zappo that topped off a six-run inning and gave Upper Perk a 7-5 lead, which turned out to be the final score when Dante DeBrigida nailed down the win by striking out the side in the seventh.
"The important thing is, we got our first win,' said Indian coach Frank Mercon, whose team had fallen behind due to some sloppy fielding. "And wins cure a lot of things. That was good for us. Good to have ... a great feeling.'
"We're that close ... haven't had a win yet,' said Zappo. "That was a big boost, a big boost in confidence. A few errors, but we held it together.'
Upper Perk (1-7, 1-7) trailed by a 5-1 score after the Trojans (1-5, 1-7) — who had just earned their first win of the season on Thursday - scored four in the fourth on singles by Ty Wolfel and starting pitcher Jason Hydier, two errors, an errant throw to the plate with a runner scoring from third, a balk, and an RBI groundout by J.T. Mullen (3-for-4).
"We've been struggling defensively, and we definitely need some field practice time,' said Mercon. "That's what we desperately need as a team. We're practicing through our games, and that's tough to do.'
But Indians starter Jake Breyer blanked the visitors in the fifth and DeBrigida came on to throw a scoreless sixth to keep the deficit at four runs.
Erik Stalford began the home sixth with a single to center and moved up to third on two wild pitches as Brandon Frickmann drew a walk. Then Stalford scored when DeBrigida grounded into a force at second and Daulton Breyer walked for the third consecutive time and Ethan Steuer was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jake Breyer was safe on an infield error and Daron Pijanowski hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring the hosts to within 5-4. Chris Kachmar followed with a line drive single to right to tie the score and he and the runner moved up to second and third base on an off-line throw to the plate.
That brought up senior left fielder Zappo, who popped a 1-1 pitch just over the head of the second baseman for two more runs and a 7-5 lead.
"Just trying to put it in play,' said Zappo. "Stu (Steuer) had a big hit (an RBI double in the second for a 1-0 lead) and Pijanowski, and Dante came in and set them down.
And did he ever, as he mowed down three Trojans in a row swinging on a total of only 13 pitches to wrap things up.
"He has been hurt,' Mercon said concerning his senior left-hander. "We've been trying to build him back up. He threw his first inning on Thursday and struggled. He came back today and really looked good.'
"I just had a good mindset,' said DeBrigida, who had been going through some shoulder problems. "I just focused on throwing strikes.'
And when his team scored six runs to give him the lead, he was obviously ready to go after the Trojans in the final frame.
"It's pretty motivating,' he said. "I was just throwing the fastball and challenging them to see if they could hit it, and mixed in a curveball. I just went after them. It definitely felt good.'
Pottstown had tied the score at 1-1 in the third on singles by Logan Pennypacker, Mullen, and Travis Wallace and looked to be in good shape after the four-run fourth. Hydier was crusing along on a two-hitter after setting the Indians down in order in the fifth.
But he hit the 100-pitch mark in the sixth and was relieved by Tyler Gebhard after Upper Perk had scored two and had the bases loaded with one out.
"I think it was two games in one,' said Trojans coach Jeff Evans. "The early part of the game, and then we kind of let it get away from us. You never have enough runs. They kind of shut our bats down. You have to give them credit for that. I don't know if we got complacent or if their pitchers settled in. And if you make errors, it comes back to get you.'
Next up for Upper Perk will be Boyertown, a team that the Indians led by two runs in their season opener with two out and nobody on in the top of the seventh, but ended up losing to by a 5-2 score in nine innings.
"We come back and have Boyertown,' said Mercon. "Hopefully, we can play them tough and make it two wins in a row.'
"Hopefully, go to Boyertown and get another win,' Zappo added.