Ford City sophomore Bower stays hot as Sabers rally for win
Two late runs allowed Ford City to add distance between the top three teams and the rest of Section 3-AA.
Noah Nulph and Caleb Zablocki drove in runs in the bottom of the sixth, and the Sabers turned a game-ending double play to top visiting West Shamokin, 4-2, on Thursday.
Sophomore third baseman Blake Bower was 3 for 3 with two RBI for Ford City (4-3, 4-2), which moved into a tie for second in the section with Freeport. Ashton McGinnis pitched the complete game and struck out six for the Sabers.
Anthony Rocco had two hits, a run scored and struck out seven in six innings pitched to lead West Shamokin (2-5, 1-3).
“Rocco was throwing the ball well, so when we got to the meat of our order, we needed to produce,” Ford City coach Dennis Montgomery said. “Blake Bower was huge for us, and (Dave) Lattanzio and (Justin) Retzer also had some big hits.”
Bower, the Sabers' clean-up hitter, drove in Lattanzio and Retzer for Ford City's first two runs.
But in the sixth, Bower was the one who set the table with a leadoff single. He came around to score the winning run when Nulph grounded into a fielder's choice, and Zablocki added the insurance run by beating out a throw for an infield single.
“(Bower) is a sophomore, and last year he played well in the field for us but didn't hit the ball as much,” Montgomery said.
“He might be too on fire now. After 3 for 3 tonight, he's hitting close to .650. We know that's not going to last, but as a sophomore, he's been carrying the load. If he doesn't get it done, the crooked numbers don't show up very often for us.”
West Shamokin had a chance to tie in the seventh after Eli Frailey and Travis Anderson reached base on errors. Zane Clowser then hit a hard ground ball up the middle with one out, but Ford City atoned for its miscues with a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
“I told the kids we just didn't get the clutch hit we needed,” West Shamokin coach Dave Powers said. “We hit the ball hard at the end there, but it was right at the kid.
“Anthony, without question, is our No. 1 pitcher, and we played good defense behind him today. Ford City has a tradition down here, and we battled with them. A few more hits and the game might have swung our way.”
West Shamokin twice rallied from one-run deficits to tie the game entering the bottom of the sixth.
Anderson tripled to lead off the third, and Clowser brought him home on a ground out. In the top of the sixth, Josh Allen's RBI single scored Rocco, who reached base with a one-out double.