Franklin Regional erupts for 11 runs to take down Montour in Class 5A 1st round

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 8:27 PM

Jake Williams received a wooden bat as an award for being selected player of the game.

That came after the Franklin Regional junior shortstop and his teammates showed what they can do with aluminum in their playoff opener.

The sixth-seeded Panthers pounded out a dozen hits against a half-dozen Montour pitchers and rolled to an 11-2 victory Tuesday in a WPIAL Class 5A first-round baseball game at West Mifflin.

A seven-run fourth inning propelled the Panthers, who loaded the bases to chase hard-throwing starter Jack Mullen, and kept scoring against No. 11 Montour (11-10).

Both teams began the season in Florida but only one will continue their pursuit to reach Washington (Pa.) for the finals.

Franklin Regional (15-4) moves on to face No. 3 North Hills (17-3) in Monday's quarterfinals.

“I felt like we were seeing the ball well,” said Williams, the leadoff man who went 3 for 3, walked twice and drove in three runs. “We weren't sitting back on it. We were trying to pull the ball too much. We started seeing it better and everything started clicking for us offensively.”

When Mullen left the game, the Panthers seemed more aggressive and free-swinging, and it led to a long fourth inning for the Spartans.

Trailing 1-0, the Panthers sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs on four hits to blow the game open. Junior David Baird's groundout against reliever Nathan Dankis scored Shane Sciorilli to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

“As we told the kids before the game, when opportunity is presented to you, we have to find a way to plate those runs,” Franklin Regional coach Bobby Saddler said. “We have to come through and have big (at-bats). The kids did a wonderful job today of doing that.”

Williams ripped a two-run double to the gap in left-center, Alex Frey drove in a run with a single, and two more runs came home on bases-loaded walks to make it 7-1.

“Once we started getting those hits, I felt like it was going to keep coming,” Williams said. “They kept changing pitchers and we kept adjusting to everybody, lefty-righty.”

The Spartans used four pitchers in the frame.

“In that inning, it was the second time through (the lineup),” Saddler said. “So we know the approach we want to have at the plate, and the kids executed that approach just seamlessly. We wanted attacking fastballs, and they did just that. Montour wanted to change the momentum of the game at that point. … It just didn't work out for them.”

Freshman Andrew Muraco, Frey and junior Michael Klingensmith each had two hits for the Panthers.

Muraco's gap-shot double was followed by a run-scoring single by Frey to make it 9-2 in the fifth.

In the sixth, Klingensmith and Williams each drove in a run.

Frey struck out eight and earned the win. He left in the sixth because of his pitch count. Palmer Jackson finished the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 seventh in relief.

“When you give Alex a lead, that's the biggest thing,” Williams said. “I feel like everything is clicking for us, all three phases of the game. … Hopefully, our best is yet to come.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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