Freeport baseball dispatches South Allegheny from Class 3A playoffs

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Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 9:56 PM


The South Allegheny was one of the hottest baseball teams in Class 3A entering the postseason, winning 10 of its last 11 and carrying a six-game winning streak.

After being held scoreless in the top of the first, the Gladiators couldn’t keep up with Freeport the remainder of the game.

The No. 8 seed Yellowjackets put together some aggressive at-bats and had almost unhittable pitching by as they handed South Allegheny a 9-2 defeat Thursday night at Plum High School.

“We just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it today,” SA coach Gib Pohodich said. “I thought Freeport was at their best in the clutch and when there were runners on base. Their starter was just better than us today, and he was able to hit his spots.”

The Yellowjackets (15-5) compiled eight runs in the first three innings and chased the Gladiators (12-8) starter, Adam Jackowski, out of the game at the end of the second inning. Jackowski was 6-0 with a 0.90 ERA in the regular season.

“We are not a passive bunch with the bats,” Freeport coach Ed Carr said. “We have a group that are aggressive, and they want to attack the pitcher. Getting those three runs in the first was huge. Our leadoff hitter led the charge, and the rest of the guys put together solid at-bats.”

Matthew Corfield was another catalyst for Freeport as the junior righty went five innings and allowed only a pair of hits in the sixth inning before being pulled. Corfield allowed only two runs on two hits with six strikeouts and four walks on 84 pitches.

“Matt just battled out there,” Carr said. “He wasn’t at his best early in counts, but I thought he pitched well from behind and was relaxed on the mound. I imagine he had some nerves, but he overcame that and was a horse out there for us. We had a good game plan against their top hitters.”

Zach Clark picked up the final six outs on the mound for the Yellowjackets. The playoff win was the first for Freeport since a quarterfinal victory over Waynesburg in 2019. Freeport improves to 2-7 in the first round since 2010.

Freeport will play the winner of Riverside-Valley in the quarterfinals next week with a time, date and site to be determined.

“Freeport is a solid team,” Pohodich said. “They are going to give anybody a run for their money in the next round. They can pitch, and they played excellent defense. Their team speed is something you always have to be aware of.”

RBI singles by Clark and Jackson Smetech gave the Yellowjackets an early lead, and then a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Hotalski pushed the advantage to 3-0 against the freshman righty from South Allegheny.

Freeport extended its lead to 5-0 in the second when Brady Stivenson ripped an RBI single and then later scored off an errant throw by the third basemen with two outs.

Jackowski was at 48 pitches through two innings, and Pohodich went to the bullpen and Trenton Popovich threw the next three innings. Logan Helster pitched a scoreless sixth for the Gladiators.

In the third, Dylan Stonebraker collected a, RBI single and Stivenson walked with the bases loaded before Tyler Asti laid down a perfect bunt for an RBI.

“We manufactured a lot of runs,” Carr said. “We didn’t give a lot of at-bats away, and the kids were just composed at the plate. That’s our style of play, and we have to play that way if we want our season to continue. It was picture-perfect baseball on offense for us today.”

SA cracked the scoreboard in the fourth when Corfield walked the first two batters he faced. An RBI groundout by Mason Campano scored courtesy runner Caleb Jackowski to make it 8-1.

After Freeport tacked on an insurance run in the fifth by way of a RBI groundout by Clark, the Gladiators got consecutive singles from Josh Nesky and Jaxson Champ. Champ’s courtesy runner, Caleb Jackowski, scored on a sacrifice fly by Campano.

As the Yellowjackets are moving on, the youthful Gladiators are hoping this is just a taste of good things to come for the future.

“Our inexperience showed up today,” Pohodich said. “I think we made more mistakes out on the field today than we did for the whole entire year. We were not at our best on the big stage, but take nothing away from this group. Getting 12 wins is huge for this program. We have a lot of starters coming back.”

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