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Quakertown Blazers ready for postseason


It was a long wait. But worth it.

Last Wednesday night, the Quakertown Blazers emerged victorious from a 7-6 contest at the Trenton Generals. The game took 3:39 to play, yet the win kicked Quakertown’s playoff push into another gear.

Trenton went up 5-0 thanks to Ryan Mostrangeli’s fourth inning, three-run double. The Blazers retorted loudly in the fifth. Center fielder Andrew Fisher (Elizabethtown) singled home first baseman Sean McHugh (Monmouth). Third baseman Brian Nicolas (Bryant) walked and catcher Bill Hitman (California Pa.) singled home a run.

“We were struggling up at that point to even get one across,” Fisher offered, “so that really felt good for us.”

Second baseman Anthony Viggiano (Bloomsburg) singled home Fisher and Nicolas. Left fielder Chris Iazzetta’s (Wheeling Jesuit) deep fly plated Hitman and knotted the game at 5.

Viggiano rapped out three hits. “Coming out with a win is an awesome feeling,” said Viggiano, one of the ACBL’s leading hitters. “We had been struggling against these guys over the past few games. With great pitching, the defense and the hitting we managed to pull through.

“It’s kind of hard to see the ball here and in the car ride over,” he continued, “I was telling myself ‘Don’t worry about not being able to see the ball.’ That managed to work for me.”

Fisher collected four hits off of three different Trenton pitchers. “It was one of those nights,” he said simply. “Their lefty threw me a curveball. Everything else was outside fastballs from right handers.”

Fisher’s two-out, sixth-inning single started five straight baserunners. Viggiano singled home Fisher. Right fielder Colin Hartey’s (Lafayette) bases loaded walk scored Nicolas to put Quakertown up 7-5. Iazzetta ended the inning with a warning track fly that would have been a grand slam in most parks.

“(Iazzetta) brings power, which is great because we don’t have a ton of guys with raw power,” said Quakertown manager Chris Ray. “We have guys with power that plays. He’s got raw power, he has a good idea of what he is doing in the box and he hits the ball hard.”

Ray turned the ball over to two newbies from Arcadia. Colin Bowdish allowed just one run in three innings of relief in his Blazer debut. Adam Maser stranded a General on second to earn the save in his second Quakertown appearance.

“I didn’t pitch too much this spring so it’s nice to come out like this,” Bowdish said. “They’re a great group of guys. The curveball has been my pitch since middle school. Recently, I hadn’t been able to get on top of it but this game, it was working pretty well.”

“It’s Colin’s first day with us and he comes in and pounds the zone with three different pitches. That’s huge,” Ray explained. “Adam hadn’t thrown for us in two weeks so it was big for him to come in and throw the ball over the plate. He trusts his stuff and knows his defense has his back.”

Quakertown made two errors, but the defense was alert given the length of the game and the number of balls in play. Nicolas had three putouts and three assists.

“The defense played well. It was easier because it was such a close game,” Ray credited. “You hate to be counting down, but guys are counting down to where the first playoff round might be played if we are fortunate enough to make it. And the amount of first-pitch strikes that our guys threw makes it a lot easier to stand in. If it had been 2-0 to everyone, it would have been a lot tougher.”

The Wolff Division runner-up hosts the third-place squad in a play-in game. The win temporarily cut Trenton’s lead over third-place Quakertown to a half game. The Blazer offense, which averages five runs per game, had scored just twice in 18 prior innings at Mercer County Park.

“With the next two games tomorrow, we’re going to come back at it even more hungry,” Viggiano predicted at Trenton. Quakertown split their Thursday doubleheader with the Jersey Pilots, winning the opener 5-2. After Quakertown’s 4-3 nightcap loss, the Blazers’ magic number was one. Quakertown clinched their playoff spot Friday with last-place Jersey’s 5-5 tie with Trenton.

The Blazers (17-22-1) finished the regular season in third place and travel to Trenton for Friday’s play-in game.