Franklin finally finds its bats, collects big hits in rout of Whitnall
Sabers collect key hits in regional
Earlier this season, Franklin head baseball coach Jim Hughes said his team was looking for "Mr. Clutch."
In other words, the Sabers were searching for someone to come up with a big hit in a crucial situation.
That search continued through a frustrating 11-19 season in which Franklin dropped 11 games by three or fewer runs as well as losing 10 times after holding early leads.
Much to Hughes' relief, "Mr. Clutch" finally showed up as the Sabers downed Whitnall 11-2 in a WIAA regional contest held over two days, July 15-16.
Pescheck, Toetz shine
He came in the person of Nick Pescheck, who ignited the offense with a three-run home run in the first inning and finished with the home run, a double, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
He most definitely showed up in the form of Will Toetz, who blew open the game with a three-run double in the second inning and went 4 for 4, including a pair of doubles with five RBIs.
Overall, the Sabers racked up 12 hits, including six for extra bases.
"That's the best we've hit all year," Hughes said. "We did get the clutch hits. We've kind of been looking for it all year. Better late than never, but it came."
Toetz said the hitting was a simple matter of survival.
"It was a big game," he said. "We didn't want to go home, that was the big thing. We wanted to survive and advance; that's our motto. There's no way we were going home today."
On the other side, Whitnall head coach Ben Krey realized his team just came up on the wrong side of the offensive explosion.
"Talking to their coaches, this has been the most hits they've had this year, as well as some of the hardest-hit balls that they've seen," Krey said. "Unfortunately for us, we're the team that surrendered that."
Falcons score first
The Falcons (11-16) actually came out swinging in the first inning as David Gaertner doubled into the right-centerfield gap to bring home Tyler Regeth, who had walked.
Whitnall went on to load the bases with two outs but the inning ended on a strikeout.
The Sabers then jumped out quickly in their half of the first. Austin Meyer singled to right field, and Sammy Harmeyer doubled into the right-center gap to put runners on second and third.
Pescheck, who Hughes said has hit the ball consistently hard all season, then belted a pitch over the left-field fence, just inside the foul pole, to put Franklin up 3-0.
"It was a curveball inside, and it hung up there," Pescheck said. "I hit it out to left. It was pretty close (to the foul pole)."
After a couple of outs, Mike Davis walked, Toetz singled for the first of his four hits and Jacob Behlendorf doubled down the leftfield line to plate Davis with the fourth run.
At that point, Krey knew his team was facing some trouble.
"They came out with the bats right away and jumped all over us in the first inning," Krey said. "That kind of set the tone for them offensively."
Franklin was back at it in the second inning, although it received some help from Whitnall reliever Regeth, who issued four walks.
Toetz came up with the huge hit, crushing a slicing line drive that went just beyond the reach of leftfielder Josh Daniels and went for a three-run double that made it 8-1.
The Falcons tallied once in the top of the third on a pair of Franklin errors to trim it to 8-2.
Pescheck led off the Franklin fourth with a double into the rightfield corner, but by then, a heavy rain had begun.
The umpires stopped play, and when the showers continued and the field became soggier, the game was suspended until the next evening.
Everyone reconvened on July 16, and the Sabers picked up right where they left off as Joe Fortman singled to score Pescheck and Jacob Gain singled.
Toetz then doubled to bring home Fortman and Gain for his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game as Franklin built its lead to 11-2.
Ben Zwitter had started the game and worked the first four innings, allowing four hits, but Hughes opted to bring Toetz onto the mound for the resumption of the game.
Toetz gave up just one hit and fanned two in his three innings.
Whitnall had five players with one hit in the game: Drew, Regeth and Noah Stemper with singles, Gaertner with a double and Blake Leslie with a triple.
Pescheck summed up the Sabers' effort when he said, "In big games, big players have to come up with some big plays. A lot of us did today."
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