Ford City baseball helps cause in playoff triangle
Right now, a Ford City baseball fan's two favorite teams are Ford City and whoever plays against Burrell.
The Sabers did their part to reach the WPIAL playoffs by picking up a six-inning, 10-0 win at home over Summit Academy, but Ford City's hopes of finishing third in Section 3-AA are dependent on Burrell losing one of its final two games next week.
Ford City (6-7, 6-5) needs to finish ahead of Burrell (5-8, 5-5) or in a three-way tie with Apollo-Ridge at 6-6 because of the Bucs' season sweep of the Sabers. But with no say over the outcome, Ford City knows exactly where it stands after defeating Summit Academy (1-12, 1-11).
“Quite frankly, we haven't deserved to make the playoffs. We lost to Burrell twice, and we had our chances to win both times. We're honest with the kids, and they're honest with themselves about it,” Ford City coach Dennis Montgomery said.
“The thing is somebody has to get that spot, and with (Justin) Retzer on the mound for us, who knows what could happen (in a playoff game).”
Burrell hosts Apollo-Ridge on Monday and West Shamokin on Tuesday, which could put Ford City in the position of playing against West Shamokin on Monday then cheering for them the next day.
“If that happens, we'll probably go out to that game and cheer for (West Shamokin),” Ford City pitcher Dave Lattanzio said. “It'll be exciting for us.”
Lattanzio did his part for Ford City as he limited Summit Academy to four hits and struck out nine. The senior also kicked off the offense in his final home game for Ford City with an RBI double in the first inning.
“It feels good to give us a chance, at least, to get in the playoffs,” Lattanzio said. “It would mean a lot to make it. We've never been (in a postseason) in my high school career, and it would be exciting to finally be in one. We've worked hard for it.”
Ford City got offense from the bottom of its lineup to finish the game an inning early.
Mike Fennell had the biggest hit with a two-run triple to right that made the lead 7-0 in the fourth, and Caleb Zablocki, Ashton McGinnis and Zeke Walter hit run-scoring singles to give Ford City at least one RBI from each of its bottom four players in the batting order.
“We had guys contribute today that have struggled during parts of the season,” Montgomery said. “We didn't get a lot of production from the middle of the lineup, so it was good that those guys picked it up for us, and (Lattanzio) was really hitting the plate.”
Summit Academy was hurt by five errors that helped set up Ford City's scoring chances. Summit Academy starting pitcher Chris Harp allowed seven runs in four innings, but only two were earned. Harp also struck out five.