Perry, Strange Three-Run Inning Lifts Rocky Grove into D10 2A Semifinals

| May 22, 2018


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. (EYT) – Strong pitching from Travis Perry and Tyler Knupp and an inning that unfolded in a way it may never see again led Rocky Grove to a 3-0 win over Cochranton in the District 10 Class 2A baseball quarterfinals Monday afternoon at Slippery Rock University’s Critchfield Park.

(Photo: Travis Perry of Rocky Grove)

Perry, the Orioles ace who is headed to Youngstown State on a baseball scholarship, was wild but practically unhittable in 6 ⅓ innings.

While he walked six in his outing (he also had eight strikeouts), the only hit he gave up was a hard hit ball in the hole between shortstop and third base that his younger brother, junior third baseman Scott Perry, just couldn’t quite make the play on.

“Travis is a tough kid to hit,” Rocky Grove manager Bill Wilson said.

After Perry reached the 100-pitch mark and was forced to come out by high school rules in the seventh inning with one out, Knupp came on and retired the first batter he faced before giving up a clean infield single and then getting a ground out to earn the save.

“You couldn’t ask for a better reliever,” Wilson said.

The reason Knupp was in the position to get the save was because of one of the weirdest sequences you will ever see on a baseball diamond that occurred in the fourth inning allowing Rocky Grove to score two runs on a ball that was hit maybe 50 feet.

With the bases loaded and no one out, Justin Heller hit a bouncer back in front of the mound that Cochranton pitcher Curtis Freyermuth easily fielded and looked poised to turn into a 1-2-3 double play.

But Freyermuth’s throw home forced catcher Noah Ross to come off the plate. Ross, though, didn’t realize he was off the plate and threw to first trying to get Heller to complete what he thought was a double play.

That allowed Hunter Bruner, who led off the inning with the game’s first hit, a line-drive single to right just out of the reach of the second baseman, to score. Heller was also called safe at first, and Cochranton started to argue one, or perhaps, both of the calls.

While that was going on, Conner Curran, who had singled to left and started the play on second base, realized time hadn’t been called and that no one was covering home plate so he dashed home with a second run for the Orioles. Scott Perry, who had reached on an infield bunt single trying to move the runners up, then tried to score as well when Heller raced towards second but was thrown out trying to get back to third in a rundown.

“Not like that,” Wilson said when asked if he had ever seen a play like what happened. “It was unique. It helped us out a little bit. I think, at that point, the momentum was ours.”

Curran said he was just trying to play heads-up baseball.

“I saw the catcher and the first baseman kind of arguing the call,” Conner said. “They were not heads up, and I was heads up. I was on top of the play. Nobody was paying attention, and I slid into home.”

Watch more of Curran’s thoughts on the game.

The 3-0 lead allowed Perry, who had struggled with command in the first three innings walking five – one intentionally – through the first three frames to settle in. He retired 10 of the final 12 batters he faced walking just one in that span.

Perry, who walked the first two batters he faced in the game – Rocky Grove was the visiting team after losing a pregame coin flip – and used a controversial pickoff in the third to get out of another two runners on situations after two walks – one intentional – said he wasn’t nervous about pitching in the playoff game as much as he was nervous about pitching at Slippery Rock University.

“I don’t really get nervous in games like these,” Travis Perry said. “There were some (nerves), but I was more nervous about pitching on this mound than anything. I had never pitched good at Slippery Rock.”

After walking the first two Cochranton batters in the first, Perry went 3-2 on the next two before striking them out and then struck out Trent Hittle to end the inning without allowing any runs.

“The first inning is always like that,” Perry said. “If you recall, last year I pitched bad (in the first inning) at Ainsworth (in the District 10 championship game). It’s just that first inning. You just have to get past it.”

Watch Perry’s thoughts on the game.

Wilson said the first inning was typical Travis.

“He has done that more than once this year,” Wilson said. “I walked right out to him after the first inning and asked ‘are you ever going to be warmed up before the first inning is over?’ He just smiled at me.”

After the first the only real trouble Travis Perry faced was in the fifth when Cochranton put a runner on second with one out after a walk and a sac bunt. But Perry got a strikeout before intentionally walking Freyermuth to bring up Hittle.

But after one pitch to Hittle, Perry picked off Freyermuth at first on a controversial call.

With a three-umpire crew working the game and runners on first and second, the base umpires were positioned over by third base and in the middle of the diamond.

On the quick throw over, the initial call by the base umpire in the middle of the diamond was safe, although Curran, the first baseman, reacted like he thought he had gotten the out.

That brought Wilson from the dugout for a quick chat with the base umpire who made the safe call, and that umpire agreed to see if the home plate umpire had a better view. After about a 30-second to a minute conversation between the two umpires, Freyermuth was ruled out bringing howls of protests from the Cochranton side but cheers from the Rocky Grove side.

After that call, the Cardinals only had one base runner in scoring position the rest of the afternoon, and that after two outs in the fourth.

Rocky Grove, looking for a third straight District 10 title, will face Mercer in the semifinals Thursday at a site and time to be announced.

FAMILY LOVE

The game was a bit hard on Rocky Grove assistant coach Mark Sanner.

On one hand, Sanner is the Orioles assistant coach and his son Nick was in the starting lineup for the Orioles. On the other hand, Sanner’s son, Geoff is the manager for Cochranton.

“Coach Sanner was wearing a red belt (red is Cochranton’s color),” Wilson said. “Part of him was rooting for his son. But good for him. He was in a tough place. In the middle of the game, I walked up to him and said ‘I think it (stinks) to be you, doesn’t it?’ He was like yeah it wasn’t fun right then but he was trying to make the best of it. I love Geoff. I can stand here and brag about how good his team is.”

ROCKY GROVE 3, COCHRANTON 0

Score by Innings

Rocky Grove 000 300 0 – 3
Cochranton 000 000 0 – 0

ROCKY GROVE – 3

Player-Pos-AB-R-H-RBI

Tyler Knupp ss/p 4000, Kolby Winslow 2b 2000, Ryan Hanna ph/2b 2010, Caden Toscano pr/2b 0000, Travis Perry p/ss 2000, Hunter Bruner cf 4120, Conner Curran 1b 3110, Scott Perry 3b 3010, Justin Heller c 3100, Nick Sanner lf 2010, Tyler Clayton rf 3011. Totals 28-3-7-1.

COCHRANTON – 0

Player-Pos-AB-R-H-RBI

Cameron Snyder lf/p 2000, Ty Barzak cf 1000, Noah Ross c 2000, Curtis Freyermuth p/ss 2000, Trent Hittle 1b 3000, Garrett Long 2b 3010, Alex McKay ss/lf 3000, Zach Snedeker 3b 2000, Brandon Richter rf 3010. Totals 21-0-2-0.

Errors: Rocky Grove 0. Cochranton 2. LOB: Rocky Grove 8. Cochanton 6. SB: Snyder, Barzak. SAC: Barzak.

PITCHING

Rocky Grove

Travis Perry 6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 8 K
Tyler Knupp 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Totals: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 8 K

Cochranton

Curtis Freyermuth 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Cameron Snyder 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Totals: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Winning pitcher: Travis Perry
Losing pitcher: Curtis Freyermuth
Save: Tyler Knupp


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