BUCKTOWN >> Owen J. Roberts was not at the top of the game on the mound or on the base road and the Central Bucks South was hitting the ball hard and making a play in early defense on Saturday’s District 1-6A second-round baseball contest.
But a nine-run fifth inning turned the game around and hosts OJR advanced to the quarterfinals with a 12-8 win. The third-seeded Wildcats (22-1) will host Garnet Valley, who won 1-0 against Downingtown West, on Friday with the winner earning a place in the PIAA Tournament.
Blaine Waltimyer coached three doubles, five players had a pair of hits and Dean Mihos got the last four and got a save for Roberts. JT Anderosky won 4-for-5 for the 19th-ranked Titans (13-9).
“We have a really good team and we have a deep lineup,” Waltimyer said. “I trust my men. Everyone has to do their part. “
“We knew it was going to be a tough journey to come back like that,” Wildcat Ethan Sabatino said. “But we have guys to do it and we do it.”
The Wildcats trailed 6-1 into the fifth base after the Titans scored two in the first and four in the fourth.
Zach Santise was hit by pitch to start the big inning and Jake Ambrosio lined up a hit to the right and they came around to score on a sacrifice by Kyle O’Connor, an infield hit by Aaron Kirby and a grounder to short by Mihos.
Next Sabatino and Waltimyer doubled in front and Zach Brockner sang in the second to tie the score.
The infield was hit by Tristan Dietrich and an error contained the foundation for Ambrosio, who gave the Wildcats the lead with one two-run on the left and one RBI by O’Connor and a wild pitch that filled the base to complete the score in the frame. .
“After being thrown by Zach, he kept playing and playing,” Ambrosio said.
South bounced back with two laps at number six. But Miho came on the mound and got an inning-ending on one field.
The Wildcats scored two in the bottom of the inning in one by Santise and Mihos only allowed a safe two out one in the seventh.
O’Connor, Kirby, Mihos, Sabatino and Ambrosio each had two hits to reach with Waltimyer three and three other starters all taking one hit as part of OJR’s 16-hit strike.
“I feel like I can see the ball really well today,” said Ambrosio, who was robbed of a jump shot by first baseman Colin Mitchell in his first bat. “Every pitcher has a good fastball, but it’s straight enough.”
The key to a determined fifth inning was to score two strikes. Santise hit a 0-2 pitch, and Miho dropped a 2-2 pitch to drive. Sabatino and Waltimyer both doubled after falling in count.
“We have a strict policy on two attacks,” Sabatino said. “We’re really focused and actionable.”
“This is one of the things we’ve been doing all season,” Ambrosio said. “Speed up and put the ball in play. Good things will always happen for us.
The rally saved Pioneer Athletic Conference champion OJR, who had a parting in the first half, from coming out of the early playoffs.
“We got our first goal, the PAC championship, and now we’re going to move on,” Waltimyer said. “A lot of them are ready to play in training. A lot of them are family and play baseball together.
“They were tense of course,” Sabatino said of the must-win playoff game. “But as seniors who don’t have a lot of games left, we came out with a lot of energy.”
And much of that energy comes from the bench, according to Ambrosio.
“I think our benches have a big role to play in getting up,” he said. “He gives all his energy and focus.”
CB South, who beat Ridley 8-1 in the opening round Monday, scored two in the first in singles and three runs. Then the Wildcats failed to score in the half after two of the three batters singled as the runner was thrown out trying to advance from first to third on an infield hit and another shot off.
In the fourth, midfielder Titan Anderosky made an incredible catch as he ran into the fence and a Wildcat runner called out while playing when he failed to touch base twice when returning to the first.
South added four runs in the fourth on a two-run RBI double by Anderosky, a fly sacrificed by starting pitcher Robby Porco and one open-scoring by Owen Wheeler.
“We did everything we wanted in the beginning,” Titan coach Kevin Bray said. “We came out fast by putting pressure on him. Then they started to grind out the bat against Robby. He had a two-strike approach and the ball started to fall. It’s really hard to defend if you find a green like that.
“Unfortunate for our men and seniors it came out like that. It’s a special group of seniors.