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Ford City in position for playoff berth but Sabers need Burrell loss

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 10:51 p.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
Ford City head coach Dave Montgomery (left) and Dave Lattanzio talk at third base while waiting for a West Shamokin pitching change Monday, May 6, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
Ford City's Dave Lattanzio (left) is ready for the pitch thrown by West Shamokin's Anthony Rocco Monday, May 6, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
Ford City pitcher Ashton McGinnis goes through his wind-up Monday, May 6, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
West Shamokin's Dave Ferrier dives back to first base ahead of a tag from Ford City's Caleb Zablocki Monday, May 6, 2013, at West Shamokin High School. Both players are back this season for their teams, who hope to make a push toward a Section 3-AA playoff spot.

Ford City took care of its part to stay in the baseball playoff race Monday. Tuesday, the team finds out if it was enough.

The Sabers pounded out 17 hits in five innings and capped the game with an eight-run fifth to remain — for at least one more day — in third place of Section 3-AA with an 18-2 win at West Shamokin.

The win allowed Ford City (7-7, 7-5) to maintain its half-game lead over Burrell after the Bucs defeated Apollo-Ridge, 8-2. However, the Sabers lose the potential tiebreaker after being swept by Burrell, which means Ford City needs West Shamokin (2-13, 1-10) to upset the Bucs in Tuesday's section finale to reach the playoffs.

“Everything kind of went to script for us. We just needed a couple more clutch hits during the year, but I think every team in the country can say that,” Ford City coach Dennis Montgomery said.

“The other teams are allowed to get us out, and the pitchers for Burrell, Freeport and Deer Lakes got us out when they needed to. Anything could happen, but as we stand right now, it looks like we didn't get it done.”

West Shamokin is the underdog against Burrell, the Wolves will go into the game hoping to end a tough season on a high note and snap a 15-year streak of playoff appearances by the Bucs.

“We've talked to the kids about it, and they know the situation,” West Shamokin coach Dave Powers said. “We're playing a lot of young kids right now, but we're looking at the next game as one more chance to lace them up, and hopefully, the result will be better.”

Ford City won the first meeting with West Shamokin, 4-2, but it turned in one of its best offensive performances of the season in the second meeting. Dave Lattanzio led the way with a 4-for-4, three-RBI performance that also included three runs scored.

All nine starters for the Sabers had at least one hit.

Lattanzio's first-inning double was the second of five straight hits to open the game as the Sabers scored five runs in the opening frame. The Sabers scored five more in the third and eight in the fifth to put the 10-run rule into effect.

Ashton McGinnis allowed two hits, two walks and one earned run to pick up the complete-game win with six strikeouts.

“I don't think there's any doubt we're playing our best baseball right now,” Montgomery said.

“Ashton has been a major plus for us. He's almost thrown four complete games in his last four starts. He's progressed to the point where he's beating the teams that we needed him to beat consistently. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get (No. 1 starter Justin) Retzer the same kind of run support.”

McGinnis helped his cause by going 3 for 4 and driving in two runs, and Retzer went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored.

Mick Galbraith doubled in the third and Anthony Rocco doubled in the fourth for West Shamokin's two hits. Galbraith later scored on a Ford City error, and Rocco plated the Wolves' other run on an RBI groundout by Eli Frailey. The loss was the 12th straight for the Wolves.

“You try to stay upbeat and optimistic with the team, but we've had a lot of days like this, this year,” Powers said. “It's been frustrating, to say the least.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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