,ROYERSFORD -- Elliot Criss, Spring City's precocious 16-year-old pitcher, made his initial Chester County League playoff game start a monumental success Tuesday night at Ram...
,ROYERSFORD -- Elliot Criss, Spring City's precocious 16-year-old pitcher, made his initial Chester County League playoff game start a monumental success Tuesday night at Ram Stadium.
Criss, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander, gave the Red Sox eight strong innings against Pottsgrove in a 9-3 Spring City victory over the Blue Jackets.
Third-seeded Spring City will visit second-seeded NorChester, a 10-0 winner over West Chester in seven innings, in tonight's second round at Owen J. Roberts High School at 5 p.m.
Criss scattered eight hits and allowed two earned runs with six strikeouts and one walk on 125 pitches in the stellar outing before Frank Bartha came on to hurl the ninth inning.
Criss had a lot of help from his teammates, both offensively and defensively. First baseman Rich Guthridge stroked a two-run triple to highlight a four-run rally in the third inning that erased an early 1-0 Pottsgrove lead. Guthridge also doubled and singled, scored three runs, had one stolen base and made a running catch in foul territory
down the first base line to help retire the side in the sixth inning.
Third baseman Christian Walker slammed a solo home run to lead off the seventh inning, walked three times -- one intentionally -- scored twice and made five assists on a busy day in the field. Zak Tupper drilled a two-out RBI double in the third, and Dennis Custer went 2-for-4 with an RBI and hit batsman out of the leadoff spot in the batting order. He also made an outstanding diving catch in center field to rob Ryan Fleck of a hit for the third out in the fifth inning.
"My arm felt good and I was pitching pretty good so I wanted to go as far as I could and try to keep my pitch count low," Criss said while having his arm wrapped in ice by pitching coach Mike Walton after the contest.
"We hit really well tonight," Criss said. "The defense backed me up. They hit a lot of my breaking balls for ground balls. And the one catch Denny had was diving and great."
The Red Sox collected 12 hits against three Pottsgrove pitchers. Starter Josh Klaptosky went three innings in taking the loss, followed by Chris Loessy for four frames and Ben Gresh for one stanza.
Pottsgrove fell into the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will host West Chester this evening to try to keep its season alive.
"It was huge," Spring City manager Jamie Scheck said of the playoff-opening victory. "Elliot, I guess, had two innings where he was struggling with his control a little bit and we didn't make some plays. But overall Elliot gave us eight strong innings. We were hoping he could go at least seven innings, but his early pitch count was high. He still gutted it out tonight with his fastball and curveball."
Pottsgrove manager Jason Feather was also impressed with Criss' performance.
"That was an impressive outing for a 16-year-old in his first playoff game," Feather said. "He maintained his composure and never got rattled. He did a nice job mixing his pitches to keep us off balance. Our 3-4-5 hitters were a collective 1-for-13. When you do that, you are not going to win too many games."
Pottsgrove's biggest gun at the plate was leadoff man Klaptosky, who finished 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. John Fordyce finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk and stolen base. Justin Risko went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Loessy contributed a two-run, two-out single in the fourth inning to pull the visitors to within 4-3.
The Blue Jackets scored an unearned run in the second inning to take the lead. Their other two runs came on Loessy's two-out single after a strikeout wild pitch in the fourth inning that would have been the third out.
Spring City supplied more offense with one run in the fifth and four in the seventh on five hits.
"We got by the first one (playoffs) to give us confidence going into the next few games," Guthridge said. "We want to roll with it.
"Elliot's been doing really well lately for us. We know he will keep the other team's runs low and it worked out well for us. In the playoffs it is all different with nine innings so there are two extra innings. It was a pretty big deal him pitching almost the whole game and throwing well the whole way."
The Red Sox put on a rush after Spring-Ford's deep run to the PIAA Class AAAA state finals during the spring. Spring City played almost daily during the Legion season and handled the pressure well.
"I think high school definitely helped us," Guthridge said. "We came out to play ball every day and did not have time to think about the next game. We handled every single and played every game the best we could."
Walker homered on a 3-2 pitch over the right-center field fence to start the bottom of the seventh inning.
Spring City 9, Pottsgrove 3
Pottsgrove Spring City
ab r h bi ab r h bi Klptsky p 5 0 3 0 Custer cf 4 0 2 1 Kudoba rf 3 0 0 0 Tupper ss 5 1 1 1 Hains ph 1 0 0 0 Walker 3b 2 2 1 1 Tellis ph 1 0 0 0 Gthrdge 1b 5 3 3 2 Blnknblr lf 3 0 1 0 Hoff c 4 0 1 1 Gofus ph 1 0 0 0 Kolcun rf 3 0 1 0 Fleck c 4 0 0 0 Larkin rf 0 1 0 0 McClsky ph 1 0 0 0 Sampat dh 3 0 1 2 Gresh 3b,p 4 0 0 0 Criss p 0 0 0 0 Fordyce 2b 3 2 2 0 Bartha p 0 0 0 0 Risko cf 4 1 2 0 VnStna 2b 3 1 1 0 Noto 1b 4 0 0 0 Sivick lf 2 1 1 0 Loessy ss,p 4 0 1 2 Totals 38 3 9 2 Totals 31 9 12 8
Pottsgrove 010 200 000 - 3 Spring City 004 010 40x - 9
E-Walker, Tupper. DP-Pottsgrove 1. LOB-Pottsgrove 10, Spring City 9. 2B-Sivick, Tupper, Guthridge, Klaptosky 2, Sampat. 3B-Guthridge. HR-Walker. SB-Fordyce, Hoff, Klaptsky, Kolcun, Guthridge, VonStetina. S-Sivick.
IP H R ER BB SO Pottsgrove Klaptosky, L 3 5 4 4 2 0 Loessy 4 7 5 4 4 1 Gresh 1 0 0 0 1 1 Spring City Criss, W 8 8 3 2 1 6 Bartha 1 1 0 0 0 1
HBP-by Klaptosky (Hoff, Kolcun); by Loessy (Custer); by Criss (Blankenbiller). WP-Criss, Gresh. PB-Hoff.
U-Tim Kuszniez, plate; Mike Spirito, bases.