The George Washington, Franklin Towne Charter and Philadelphia Academy Charter baseball teams advanced to the Public League baseball postseason semifinals this week. Here’s how they got there:
Class AAAA championship: Washington 9, Central 8
Entering the seventh and final inning of Wednesday’s Class AAAA title game, Washington held a seemingly-comfortable 9-5 lead.
Then the Eagles had to hold on for dear life.
Sophomore starting Eddie Tingle, well over 100 pitches for the game, allowed three Lancer runs to score in the visiting seventh before inducing a game-ending pop-out to short with the tying run on second base. The bats were thunderous for both sides in this one, but in the end it was Washington, who finished 10-2 in Division A this season, that came out on top. The Eagles scored three times in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Key headliners included Roger Hanson’s monstrous 2-run homer to left-center in the third (Hanson, Washington’s ace pitcher who started in left field, was also robbed of a bases-clearing double later in the game) and junior first baseman Ishmael Bracy, who was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Tingle and third baseman Scott Siley each added a pair of RBI. Rightfielder Melvin Vargas, a benchwarmer all year for Washington who was called upon to start when starter Pat Farrell was suspended for one game after being ejected in the Eagles’ win on Monday, notched two hits and a key catch in the field in the seventh. Shortstop K.J. McFarlane had three RBI doubles for Central.
“We can hit the ball,” said Eagles head coach Ken Geiser, a Washington baseball alum who won a Public League title in 1978. “This is a big deal. Anything and everything can happen.”
Washington moved on to Friday’s semifinal contest (1 p.m., Ashburn Field in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park) against Class A champion Masterman, which upset GAMP on Wednesday. Washington is in pursuit of its first baseball championship since 1995.
“There might be one out there, but I haven’t seen a team hitting the ball better than us,” Geiser said. “If we don’t hit the ball, season over. I think we can score more runs than anyone … we just have to prove it.”
Class AAA championship: Franklin Towne Charter 11, Boys’ Latin 1 (5 innings)
Franklin Towne needed just five innings for the second consecutive contest to move one step closer to returning to the Public League championship game.
Rob Henry was on base all four times he batted (two hits, two walks), knocking in two and scoring three runs. Steve Callahan’s double ended the game two innings early, and pitcher Christian Diaz allowed just one hit in five innings while striking out six.
Towne, which fell to Frankford in last year’s title game, has been a team on a mission all season. The Coyotes lost just one Public League contest all season, to Washington.
Head coach Chris Lauber’s squad will meet Class AA champ Philadelphia Academy Charter in Friday’s semifinal contest (3:30 p.m., Ashburn Field). Towne knocked off PACS 8-7 in the teams’ regular season meeting back on April 21.
Class AA championship: Philadelphia Academy Charter 9, Prep Charter 5
Philadelphia Academy Charter’s impressive run continued on Wednesday, claiming the Class AA title with a victory over division rival Prep Charter, who the Chargers had beaten 11-1 all the way back in the season’s first game on March 24.
Sophomore Shane McGrody went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while sophomore Shawn Hayes added a pair of hits and RBI. Senior Travis Zink notched the win on the mound.
“PACS 9 Prep 5. AA pub champs!!!!!” an elated head coach Jack Smith texted a Northeast Times reporter after the win.
Smith is the only baseball coach in the school’s brief history. He and his players will battle with Franklin Towne Charter in a Friday semifinal contest.
Class AAAA Semifinal: Washington 7, Edison 4
Ken Geiser remembers what it was like to win a Public League title at Washington as a player back in 1978. Back as the school’s head baseball coach, Geiser is hoping he can help deliver the Eagles’ first championship since 1995.
They got one step closer Monday, erasing a 4-1 sixth-inning deficit by scoring seven times in the bottom half of the frame en route to an 8-4 win over visiting Edison.
Washington took advantage of sloppy Edison fielding in the sixth, and ace pitcher Roger Hanson fanned 11 while allowing just three hits on the mound. Geiser’s Eagles advanced to Wednesday’s Class AAAA championship matchup with Central. The winner of that contest advances to the league’s final four, consisting of the top remaining team from each PIAA class. The Eagles beat Central (which advanced to this game by knocking off Olney) 9-7 on April 11.
“It’s a good sign we didn’t fold the tent when we were down 4-1 in the sixth,” Geiser said. “Roger kept us in there. It’s just fun, and we look forward to keep playing.”
Class AAA Semifinal: Franklin Towne Charter 10, Swenson 0 (5 innings)
After beating New Foundations Charter in a major 2-1 scare last week, head coach Chris Lauber was just glad to see his team whole again.
Key seniors Brian Bradley (broken thumb) and Steve Callahan (groin) returned to the lineup on Monday against Swenson, blowing open the doors in a 10-0, five-inning win. Towne will meet Boys’ Latin, which in the Class AAA title game (Wednesday, 3:30 p.m., Ashburn Field in South Philly’s FDR Park).
Towne banged out 11 hits, all singles, against Swenson. Callahan had two, along with four RBI, and he threw the final two innings in relief of Christian Diaz, who struck out seven in three innings of work.
“It’s the first time we’ve been at full strength in a while,” Lauber said. “There was a renewed confidence within our lineup. It does so much for us, having leaders like Bradley and Callahan back. I don’t think either knew what to do when they were sitting.”
Towne, which won Division A after an 11-1 season, has unfinished business after losing to Frankford in last season’s title game.
“These guys know what it takes to get to the championship,” Lauber said. “They’ve already seen it all, and there’s a sense of calm about them.”
Class AA semifinal: Philadelphia Academy Charter 9, Mariana Bracetti 5
With every win that comes their way, Jack Smith and his PACS team know they are that much closer to accomplishing something the school never has.
Dylan Prendergast went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and Eric Heisler, a four-year player, picked up the win on the mound in Monday’s 9-5 victory over Bracetti. The win allowed Smith, the only baseball coach in the school’s history, and his team to advance to Wednesday’s Class AA title game against Division A rival Prep Charter. A win over Prep Charter, which PACS defeated 11-1 on March 24, would put the program two wins away from a Public League title.
“It’s definitely an exciting period for us, playing each game with the opportunity for a championship,” Smith said. “Whether that’s a Class AA title or the overall Public championship, we’re still a young program, and it’s something the players have strived for each season, to have this opportunity. The chance to win a championship is right there for us.”
Smith, a Father Judge graduate, is enjoying his program, which he called “my baby,” making a name for itself in the expansive Public League.
“For us, it’s exciting and exhilarating,” he said. “All of us want to win a title.” ••