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Wittig Nearly Flawless in Two Victories
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-04-06

            Evan Wittig's perfect game last week almost didn't happen. After tossing five flawless innings, the Upper Perkiomen junior was told he would be replaced for the sixth.

            However, the host Indians scored the game-ending run with two outs in the

Tyler Forrest scores Upper Perkiomen's first run dring 

the fourth inning in a 4-2 loss to Pennridge on March 31.

bottom of the fifth inning to clinch a 10-0 victory over Pope John Paul II on March 30. Wittig and his teammates got to celebrate the school's only perfect game in at least 43 seasons.

            Then, on Monday, Wittig was nearly perfect against Pottstown. He tossed three no-hit innings in a 15-0 victory. The Trojans' only baserunner came via an error.

           Through two starts, the lefthander has pitched with ruthless efficiency and effectiveness. In eight innings, Wittig has recorded nine strikeouts and not allowed a base runner, except for the error "Evan does a great job keeping hitters off balance "Tribe head coach Frank Mercon said."

Evan Wittig

            Against the visiting Panthers, the junior needed just 53 pitches to retire the side in five straight innings during the Tribe's season opener. Relying mostly on his changeup, he induced several ugly swings in the team's Pioneer Athletic Conference opener.  "When it's dipping down, most people can't hit it," Wittig said.

            The Upper Hanover resident, relying mostly on a circle change grip he learned from his travel team coach, and a two seam fastball, threw only 15 balls during the season-opener at Bonekemper Field. He induced nine ground outs.  "Evan works so hard on his game," said Mercon, who believes the performance will likely raise Wittig's profile throughout the conference and beyond. "He loves it."

            Following the top of the fifth inning, Mercon informed Wittig that he would be relieved in the sixth inning by Nate Reinhart. The coach told his player the focus needed to be on getting other pitchers some work.  "Evan was awesome about it," said Mercon, who admitted to considering allowing Wittig to continue. "He understood completely."

            With two outs in the bottom of the fifth against PJP, Andrew Graf worked a two-out walk, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by the pitcher, and crossed the plate on two wild pitches to secure the perfect game. Mercon described it as a "miracle run."

            Graf went 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Devlin Kranich finished with two hits. Ian Ferrero drove in three runs.

            The Indians (2-0 PAC, 3-1 overall) rallied for seven runs in the second inning off Panthers starter Nick Rubendahl, who recorded just four outs and was charged with nine runs on six hits. Graf, Ferrero, Blake Gehman, Brandon Mazzie, Kyle Mazzie and Isaac Bugman each drove in a run during the inning.

            Coming out of the bullpen, Wittig said he felt good about his changeup, which has been part of his repertoire since last season. "I kept it in the dirt," said Wittig, who recorded two of his three strikeouts on the pitch.

            According to Mercon, the changeup – which at times acts like curveball – can cover both sides of the plate. Wittig said he has learned to pitch in to left- and right-handed hitters by making small adjustments in his landing foot or arm slot.

            The pitcher dominated the strike zone against Pope John Paul II, which scored 15 runs in a victory over Lansdale Catholic one day earlier. Wittig, who threw just nine pitches in the first inning, started 12 of the 15 batters he faced with strikes.

            The Panthers didn't get the ball out of the infield until the final out of the fifth inning, a lazy fly ball to right. Their best opportunities to reach base came in the second and third innings. However, Upper Perkiomen's defense rose to the occasion.

            In the second inning, second baseman Ian Ferrero made a leaping grab on a line drive. One inning later, he made a diving stop on a grounder, then threw to Braden Reig, who handled eight defensive chances flawlessly at first base, to secure the out.

            "I had the full confidence of Ian and everyone else behind me," Wittig said. "The defense was awesome, especially up the middle, where most of the outs were recorded."

            On March 31, the Tribe managed just one hit and committed six errors in a 4-2 loss to visiting Pennridge. Mercon described the result as his team experiencing growing pains that will hopefully benefit it later.  "We need to execute better," said the coach, whose team struck out 12 times and scored single runs in the fourth and seventh inning. "We made errors at critical times."

             Rinehart, Upper Perkiomen's starter, allowed one unearned run in four innings. Blake Gehman absorbed the loss after the Rams scored three unearned runs in the sixth inning to snap a 1-1 tie.  "Nate was really good. Blake threw very well," Mercon said. "They kept us in the game."

            Two days later, the team responded with an unearned run in the top of the ninth to defeat Oley Valley, 9-8. Reig tossed the final three innings in relief to earn the mound victory. He allowed just one hit.

            Devlin Kranich and Graf each posted three hits for the visiting Indians, who led 8-4 midway through the fifth inning. Graf scored three runs.

            Reinhart added two hits and two runs. Ferrero drive in two runs for the Tribe, which led 7-4 through four innings.

            Against Pottstown, Wittig needed only 37 pitches to get through three innings. He threw 27 strikes.

            Ferrero and Brandon Mazzie sparked an 11-hit outburst against the visiting Trojans. Ferrero finished with two hits and two RBIs. Mazzie added two hits and scored twice for the Indians, who rallied for 12 runs in the second inning.

            Tuesday's game against Phoenixville was cancelled due to a lack of umpires, according to Mercon.


 

 

 

 

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