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Sports Article
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Tribe Baseball Inching Towards Post-season Appearance
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

           With multiple post-season bids within its grasp, Upper Perkiomen's baseball team will likely face a small margin for error. Head coach Frank Mercon figures the

Matt Knowles leaps over a tag by Upper Perk catcher 

Lance Templeton during the sixth inning of Oley Valley's

7-5 non-league loss on Saturday.

team will have to win all but one of remaining Pioneer Athletic Conference games to reach the playoffs. According to Macauley Swenk, the team may have to run the proverbial table to get there.

            "It's tough, but doable," Mercon said. "We've got a good team here. That's why I keep riding them."

            Preventing the opposition from posting a big inning – similar to the one Oley Valley posted in a non-league loss over the weekend – will likely be a key to reaching the conference playoffs or the District One tournament. The visiting Lynx rallied for six runs in the fifth inning to post a 7-5 victory on Saturday, April 27. Mercon attributed the flurry, which included two unearned runs with two walks and one hit batsman, to a lapse in focus by the Indians.

            Upper Perkiomen (7-5 PAC, 8-8 overall) has allowed only three lopsided innings all season, according to Mercon. He said that consistency has allowed the team to contend for a conference playoff appearance. The coach figured the team needed to win five of its final six conference games to represent the Freedom Division.

            According to Swenk, the team needs to win all six games. "I don't think we can afford another loss," he said. 

            To reach the district tournament, the Indians need to collect at least eight conference victories, according to the coach.

"If the season were to end today, we'd be in districts," Mercon said after the non-league loss.

            On Monday, the Indians took another step towards the post season with a 3-2 walk off victory over Pottsgrove. Patrick Mininger's RBI double, on a 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, drove in the game-winning run. Lance Templeton delivered two of his team's five hits.

            Justin Wornham recorded the final five out to post the victory in relief. Hunter Gooch allowed two unearned runs on 5 1/3 innings while striking out eight.

            Down 4-1 through four innings on Saturday, April 27, Oley Valley rallied in the sixth inning against Indians starting pitcher Don States and reliever Evan Shade. The team sent 10 hitters to the plate and delivered three hits. A fielding error on a drive to left field with two outs, that scored two runs, capped the flurry. 

            According to Mercon, his team struggled with certain fundamentals, including an inability to execute a sacrifice bunt and having two runners picked off base in the first and second innings.

            "Over the next two weeks, we're going to need those skills to be an asset," he said.

            Macauley Swenk and David Kilroy each finished with two hits for the Upper Perkiomen, which posted 6 hits overall. Wornham's two-run double highlighted the team's four-run outburst in the second inning. Wornham stole home on a botched squeeze bunt to stake his team to a 4-1 lead.

            Swenk, the team's hottest hitter, delivered a double and a triple. Since making an adjustment to his batting stance four weeks ago, continues to drive the ball with authority.

            "Macauley is right where he needs to be," the coach said.

            After watching a hitting instructional video prior to practice, Swenk decided to position his rear elbow parallel with his right shoulder. Previously, he started the elbow near his ribs.

            "I was looking for a way to generate more power," Swenk said. "The ball looks like a watermelon to me right now."

            On Thursday, April 25, the Indians parlayed 10 hits and six Upper Merion errors into a 10-3 victory. David Kilroy scored twice and drove in two runs.

            Swenk and Malachi Duka each posted two hits and drove in one for Upper Perkiomen, which scored four runs in the top of the first inning and led 10-1 after four innings. Aric Kressly earned the mound victory with 5 1/3 innings of work. He allowed two earned runs on five hits.

            One day earlier, Hunter Gooch tossed five shutout innings to lead the Indians to a 9-2 conference victory over Norristown. Gooch allowed just four hits while posting eight strikeouts. Lance Templeton finished with two hits and two RBI for the host Indians, who extended a 4-2 lead by scoring four runs in the sixth inning.






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