Jun. 8—DUNMORE — Mike Show got Abington Heights going in the beginning. Gabe Pietryka punctuated the ending and Scott Gilbert took care of everything in between.
With that trio leading the way, the Comets downed Cocalico, 12-5, in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A baseball playoffs Monday at Schautz Stadium.
Pietryka highlighted a 12-hit attack with two home runs and five RBIs. Mike Show, Matt Show, Mike Stanton and Gavin LaCoe each added two hits for the District 2 champs, who had four three-run innings.
Gilbert, meanwhile, struck out 13 — seven looking — in five innings. He threw 100 pitches, walked three and allowed four runs and five hits.
“I think my pitch selection kept them off-balance a little bit,” Gilbert said. “My fastball was working pretty good, my changeup got me a lot of swings and misses and the curveball was the one that a lot of people watched.”
Relievers Mike Show and Noah O’Malley finished off the victory, which sends the Comets on to Thursday’s quarterfinals against Manheim Central, the No. 5 seed from District 3 who advanced with a 5-2 win over Strath Haven in its first-round game.
“I’m pumped, everyone’s pumped. This is amazing,” Gilbert said. “This is huge for us. We’re all just having fun playing baseball.”
After enduring a four-game losing streak in early May, Abington Heights (14-6) has now won seven straight.
It got off to a great start Monday. After Gilbert struck out the side in the top of the first, Colin Davis led off the bottom of the first against Cocalico starter Alex Welker with a walk. Matt Show followed with a single and Mike Show ripped a pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run triple.
Actually, it came one pitch after he was hit by the ball, but the umpire ruled he leaned into the pitch.
“I was just trying to not give up on a curveball,” Mike Show said. “I thought it might hit me, so I just turned. But the ump said I stuck my arm out. Never been more happy to have that happen.
“The next pitch was a changeup he left over the middle and I put a good swing on it. Best feeling ever.”
Two batters later, Mike Show scored on a groundout by Stanton to make it 3-0.
“Any time we can give the big lefty (Gilbert) the lead, we feel very confident in what he can do,” Mike Show said. “With the run support we can give him, we feel like we’re one of the best teams.”
Cocalico (16-5-1), the No. 3 seed from District 3, got two of the runs back in the top of the third with a two-out rally. Gerald Debalko singled, Caleb Sturtevant walked and Tristan Current delivered a two-run double.
But Abington Heights responded in the bottom of the third. The Comets had the bases loaded with two outs when Buzz Albright drew a walk to force home a run and LaCoe followed with a two-run single to make it 6-2.
Again, the Eagles crept close. They loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fifth when Joey Current lined an RBI single off the short fence in right-center field and Welker followed with a run-scoring groundout to cut the deficit to 6-4.
With runners at second and third, Gilbert escaped the jam by getting a strikeout on his 100th — and final — pitch.
“They had a great lineup, some of the best hitters we’ve seen all year,” Abington Heights coach Bill Zalewski said. “He (Gilbert) battled them all game. He was mixing his pitches and kept getting outs for us.”
Just as they did earlier, the Comets countered in the bottom of the fifth. Gilbert led off with a walk, Stanton singled and Pietryka blasted a pitch onto the roof of the building out beyond the short porch in right-center field to give Abington Heights a 9-4 lead.
“That’s what great teams do,” Cocalico coach Mike Bertolino said. “Give Abington Heights all the credit. They were prepared and played well. They came out and hit the cover off the ball in big spots and big situations.”
Pietryka came up again in the bottom of the sixth with the score 10-4 and hit a two-run home run over the right-field fence to cap the scoring for Abington Heights.
“They were coming at me with fastballs, nothing really off-speed,” Pietryka said. “I swung for the fence both times and hoped for the best. It turned out well.
“Every time they came back we had an answer. It just felt good to pile on those runs, keep going after them and not giving up.”
Abington Heights 12, Cocalico 5
Cocalico 002 020 1 — 5
Abington Heights 303 033 x — 12
WP: Scott Gilbert 5IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 13SO
LP: Alex Welker 2.2IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 1SO
2B: Tristan Current (COC). 3B: Michael Show (AH). HR: Gabriel Pietryka (AH) 2.
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