The Fallston Cougars took advantage of two late Parkside errors Friday and the Cougars won a Class 2A East Region championship for the second time in three years.
The mistakes led to two unearned, sixth inning runs in the Cougars 2-0 win over the visiting Rams.
With the game scoreless in the sixth, Dillon Sperl’s fly ball to right field with one out was dropped by the Rams outfielder and Alex Baily then drew a walk to put Sperl in scoring position.
“Well, when he dropped it, I was thinking, should have been on second because I should have been running harder,” Sperl said. “But, at the same time I was thankful for that, it gave us the lead.”
Connor Pickle followed with a bouncer to short in what could have been an inning-ending double play, but the relay throw to first was wild and out of play, allowing Sperl to score the first run.
Drew Kalista added an RBI single as well and Cougars junior pitcher Ryan Pickle went out and finished off a masterful complete game.
The left-hander scattered four hits and walked two, while striking out eight. “I think it was important for me to just get ahead and get strikes, first pitch strikes,” Pickle said. “I knew they were a good hitting team coming in, so I think it was important to throw strikes and let my defense take care of business behind me.”
Pickle’s’ effort was matched by Parkside starter Brady Bailey. Bailey threw five innings, allowing just two hits and walk. He struck out seven.
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“Ryan Pickle, that’s two times in a row now in the biggest spots he’s been in,” Cougars manager Grant Morlock said. “He threw the final three innings at Rising Sun, up 2-1, and he threw a complete game today, shutout and he did it with his curveball, for the most part. For seven innings there, he battled with control on his curveball and he really was just working his fastball in and out, up and down. I’m just proud of the way that he’s competed here.”
Both pitchers had minor trouble in a few innings, but both were able to work out of it with no damage.
The Cougars runs came off reliever Daniel Warwick in his only inning of work.
“That’s a solid group down there, Parkside, they were solid defensively for six innings and like I said, we wanted to take advantage, we wanted to put pressure on and take advantage of their mistakes,” Morlock said. “This is a team that’s never going to be worried in a tight game like this. We’ve been in these situations and its just our expectation at this point.”
The Cougars will play Tuesday in a state semifinal at Montgomery Blair High School. The Cougars will face Middletown at 7 p.m.
“It feels great, I know we did it two years ago, I wasn’t on that team there, but it’s special, very special,” Ryan Pickle said.
Two years ago the Cougars reached the 2A state final and lost to Middletown.