Rainout makes playoff push difficult for Elizabeth Forward
Elizabeth Forward has a daunting enough task of needing to win its final four Section 4-AAA baseball games — within a span of a week — to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight year.
Still, the Warriors and longtime coach Frank Champ felt the obligation to challenge the unbeaten Monday at Wylie Field — Mother Nature.
With a bleak forecast for the rest of the week and needing to play four games by the WPIAL mandated deadline of May 6, Elizabeth Forward had no choice but to try force in Monday's scheduled section game against South Park.
It worked … for 2½ innings.
A persistent rain, a couple of bags of Diamond Dry and a 30-minute stoppage couldn't delay the inevitable, and very well could've washed away any legitimate chance of Elizabeth Forward claiming the final playoff spot.
Play was suspended with South Park leading 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning. The game will be picked up from that spot at a later date, but with the Warriors already backed up in games, the road to the playoffs just got more difficult if not impossible.
“We were sure hoping to get this one in,” Champ said. “But it was just too much rain.”
Champ knew it was going to be a long shot to get the game in after seeing the radar, but felt that they had to give it a chance.
“When we came down to the field, it was in great shape,” Champ said. “Last week when we checked the radar when we played Belle Vernon, it was supposed to rain and we ended up getting the game in. So, we figured we would take a shot.”
Elizabeth Forward (7-7, 3-5) sits in fifth place in the section — 2 1⁄2 games behind South Park (8-6, 6-3) for the third and final playoff spot. Wins over Ringgold on Wednesday, Thomas Jefferson on Friday, Belle Vernon on Monday and the conclusion of the South Park games (yet to be scheduled) would qualify the Warriors for the playoffs.
However, with rain likely to wash out the next two days, the Warriors would have to win four games in a span of six days to earn a berth.
With three pitchers — Luke Padezan, Andrew Jacobs, Ryan Wardropper — throwing the majority of the innings for Champ this year, EF would need an inexperienced pitcher to win at least one game.
“We will see if these kids step up,” Champ said. “We have three seniors who have eaten up most of the innings this year, and if they pitch well, we have as good as chance as anybody.”
The 6-foot-7 Jacobs started against South Park and allowed only a second-inning Brad Collas RBI double.
“It was a well-played game, so it was kind of a shame that it rained like that,” South Park coach Steve Bucci said.
The Eagles find themselves in a similar situation as the Warriors.
South Park is holding on to the final playoff spot but have section games left against West Mifflin, Ringgold and EF.