SCRANTON- Abington Heights centerfielder Josh Slocum has been catalyst of the offense all season. That held true in the first round of the PIAA baseball playoffs June 3 at Marywood University.
The senior delivered a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning, driving in Tyler Ksiazek, who hustled down the line for a single with one out, leading Abington Heights to a 4-3 win over Jersey Shore.
“We were just hoping in that inning to get a guy in scoring position for him (Slocum) and Kevin (Elwell),” Abington Heights head coach Bill Zalewski said. “Josh has been our voice all year. He’s the leader and is very energetic. It’s outstanding to see him get that hit.”
Slocum, perhaps, would not have had a chance to provide the game-winning heroics if Ksiazek was not able work out of a two-out jam with runners on first and third base and the score tied 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning.
“He’s been in a lot of big spots this year and today was probably the biggest one of all,” Zalewski said. “He showed, again, that he could do that job.”
The sophomore pitcher did not allow a hit over 3 1/3 innings while striking out three in relief of starter Dave Manasek. Manasek scattered eight hits and three runs while striking out nine batters.
“Tyler and Dave combined together for an outstanding game,” Zalweski said.
Abington Heights struck first when Ksiazek, who reached base four times, scored from third on a fielder’s choice.
Jersey Shore second baseman Colton Potter’s RBI double in the top of the third, tied the game at 1. The next batter, designated hitter, Christian Rishel followed with an RBI double of his own, giving the Bulldogs at 2-1 lead.
Ksiazek walked to lead off the bottom and the third and scored on a scoring error when Abington Heights’ left fielder Brad Smertz’s doubled. The Comets regained the lead when Smertz scored on a sacrifice fly from Elwell.
“It was huge for us,” Slocum said of getting the win. “We’re a good team and we’re playing well, and that was a great team we played. It came down to the wire and we pulled through.”
Jersey Shore’s Chris Glunk, who replaced Bulldogs’ starter Travis Eiswerth with two one and none out in the bottom of the fifth, struck out the batters and induced a groundout to end the Comets’ threat with runners on second and third.
Glunk helped his own cause when he singled to lead off the top of the sixth inning, and scored when second baseman Ryan Huling delivered an RBI single with two outs.
“When knew it was gonna be a battle for the get-go,” Zalewski said. “They are very well coached, you can tell they are fundamentally sound, and they play hard baseball.”