Even when Juan Namnun expects to lose, he still wins.
The Frankford head baseball coach, winner of the last three league championships, won his 100th career game on Monday afternoon as the young, upstart Pioneers turned a 6-1 deficit into a 7-6 road win over favored rival George Washington.
The victory didn’t mean much as far as playoff seeding goes, but it prevented the Eagles from winning Division A (Franklin Towne captured the title with a 3-2 win over Masterman, coupled with the G.W. loss) while it gave the Pioneers — who returned zero starters from last year’s championship squad — confidence heading into Wednesday’s home playoff opener against Edison, a team that beat Frankford 9-8 last week.
“I didn’t anticipate it happening, but it’s a huge win for us,” a surprised Namnun said after deciding to start all of his role players. “I hate to say we didn’t plan to win today, but you never know in this league. I think it shows we’re starting to build confidence and play with it.”
Despite its incredible amount of youth, Frankford still went 8-4 in division play and should not be overlooked by Washington or anyone else in the playoffs. After all, Namnun has said throughout the season that he wouldn’t want to play his team in May.
“The goal by this point was to have momentum and gain some experience,” he said. “Today, we wanted to send a message that we can hang with anyone. It has gotten remarkably more fun in the last three to four weeks.”
The classy Namnun even phoned a Times reporter a half-hour after the postgame conversation to single out and give credit to assistant coach Pete Gabriel’s role in Namnun’s arrival at 100 wins. Gabriel has been there for them all, and Namnun called Gabriel more of a co-coach than an assistant. It was another gesture that showed Namnun is aware of the fact he hasn’t gotten here alone. As he is every May, Namnun is grateful to be in this position, having Frankford in prime position to chase a fourth consecutive league crown.
“I genuinely believe anybody can beat anybody in the playoffs,” he said. “At this point, I couldn’t tell you who will come out on Friday (for the second round). I haven’t been this excited to play a game and go home and find out who else won in a couple years. It’s been awhile since you couldn’t predict it. It’s been real fun to scoreboard watch lately.”
In the opening round Public League playoffs, which began on Wednesday:
In Class AAAA, Division A top-seed Washington made short work of Southern, 15-0, with sophomore Eddie Tingle went 3-for-3 with four RBI; on Friday, Washington will host Edison, which eliminated three-time defending champ Frankford, 5-3 (it was Edison’s second win over the Pioneers in a week after losing the previous 25 dating back to 1999). In the other two first-round Class AAAA contests, Northeast fell to Central, 9-0, ending the Vikings’ season, while Division B champ Olney shocked host Lincoln, 6-5, by scoring two runs in the visiting seventh.
In Class AAA, Division A champ and top-seed Franklin Towne Charter, playing without injured stalwarts Steve Callahan and Brian Bradley, survived a major scare with a 2-1 win over New Foundations Charter, in large part due to freshman Eric Sanchez hurling a three-hitter; Towne will meet Swenson on Friday, which advanced with a 4-3, eight-inning win over Mastbaum; elsewhere, Boys’ Latin defeated Bodine, 4-0, and King upended Franklin 16-4.
In Class AA, Division D champion Tacony Academy Charter scored a 15-3 win over Del-Val Charter, allowing Tacony to advance to play Philadelphia Academy Charter on Thursday.
In Class A, Rush (6-6 Division C) will visit GAMP (3-8 Division A) on Monday, with the winner set to square off against the prevailing team from the Saul (8-4 Division C) vs. Masterman (2-8 Division A) contest, also on Monday.
After a winner from all four classes emerges, the Class A winner will play the victor from Class AAAA, while the same will be done for the Class AA vs. Class AAA winners on May 23. The two prevailing teams will meet for the Public League title on May 27.
In the Catholic League baseball postseason preliminary round:
Father Judge (6-9 Catholic Red Division) lost 7-2 in an elimination game to Archbishop Carroll in a game held at Neumann-Goretti on Saturday morning, ending the Crusaders’ season.
Archbishop Ryan (also 6-9 in the Red Division) got it much worse than its rivals over on Solly Avenue, as Conwell-Egan pummeled the Raiders, 22-9 in an elimination game played Saturday morning at La Salle. Conwell-Egan tied the Catholic League record for runs scored (La Salle hung a 22-spot on North Catholic in a 2004 first-round game).
Check northeasttimes.com/sports and tedsilary.com/BasePubfor2013-14.htm for updates of the Public League postseason contests. ••