BROOKSVILLE – Jake Swolsky didn’t bat from the right hand side all game. In fact, Swolsky hadn’t done so in the past three seasons with St. Patrick.
On Monday with his team’s season on the line in the bottom of the seventh inning, the sophomore switched from batting left to right and it paid dividends with a walk-off single as the Saints earned a 12-11, thrilling come from behind victory over Augusta in the 39th District Tournament Semifinals at Bracken County.
“I hit more powerful right-handed. I knew I needed to get a hit, put it on the ground and not in the air and I just ripped it,” Swolsky said. “We told ourselves we couldn’t lose this game, it will be some of our last games and we just had to put it all out there.”
Trailing 11-4 with two outs in the sixth, St. Patrick started their furious rally with six two-out runs in the sixth to get within one headed to the final frame. After retiring Augusta in the top of the seventh, the Saints were down to their final out when Caleb Poczatek singled home Allen Briseno to tie the game up at 11-all.
Swolsky then stepped up to the plate with Poczatek advancing to second after a steal and drove a pitch into left center to bring Poczatek home, capping off the come from behind victory and earning them a spot in Tuesday’s district championship game.
“I told him to do that,” Saints coach J.T. Williams said jokingly. “This team just doesn’t give up. That’s easy to say and a lot of teams say that, but we were in the bottom of the third, there was more than half the game left and we had scored runs all year.”
After Ben Swolsky hit a three-run home run to give the Saints a 3-1 lead after an inning of play, a six-run third inning from the Panthers looked to doom the Saints, the two teams meeting for the fifth time this season.
Taking a 7-3 lead after two and a half innings of play, Augusta kept cruising along, adding three more runs in the fourth to take a 10-4 lead. Thomas Mains, David Reed and Jon Barrett were able to do most of the damage in the six-run third, accounting for four of the runs scored with singles. Reed, Barrett and Maverick Harding added the three RBIs in the fourth to give at the time Augusta the six-run comfortable lead, on the verge of breaking through for their second win of the season, both against the Saints.
Holding St. Patrick at bay over the next two innings would be pitcher Garrett Remley, getting into the bottom of the sixth inning with an 11-4 lead after Adam Sallee drove Harding in with an infield single in the top of the sixth.
Remley recorded the first two outs of the sixth via ground-out followed by a strikeout. But a two-out walk started things off. Poczatek followed with a single and then a two-run single from Jake Swolsky. The hit parade mixed in with a couple of Augusta errors ensued as two errors plated two more runs followed by RBI singles from Owen Williams and Ben Swolsky to make it 11-9. Swolsky then scored with his fleet feet off a passed ball to make it an 11-10 game. Baylen Bauer’s line shot to short ended the frame, giving the Saints all the momentum headed into the final frame.
“We lost it in the sixth inning. They scattered some hits together and we didn’t make a couple tough plays,” Augusta coach Jerry Ziegler said. “It was a good game, we played good, they played good and you have to take your hats off to them.
After an Eli Frye ground-out started the bottom of the seventh, Allen Briseno made his first contact of the day with an infield single down the third base line. He’d steal second followed by a Cesar Briseno ground out to short, leaving the Saints something they were able to do all day, get runners home with two outs. Poczatek helped drive in their 10th run of the day with two outs with his single followed by Swolsky’s walk-off to win it.
“I wish it didn’t happen with two outs every time, but these are a great bunch of kids. I wish we could have played a lot more games, but with the weather and the numbers at St. Pat makes it tough. It’s all these kids, they could have given up, but they didn’t” Williams said.
The Saints will now move on to face the Bracken County-Mason County winner, a game that was suspended in the bottom of the third inning Monday due to inclement weather. The Royals hold a 2-0 lead when play resumes and the Saints await the winner for Tuesday’s championship, slated to start at 7 p.m. The win improved the Saints to 6-5 on the season.
Jack Gallenstein got the win in relief for the Saints, throwing 4.2 innings and allowing just two earned runs. Ben Swolsky led the way at the plate with three hits and four RBIs. Poczatek, Jake Swolsky, and Owen Williams added two hits apiece for the Saints.
Remley took the loss on the mound for the Panthers, pitching a complete game and allowing six earned runs. Reed and Harding had two hits at the plate to lead the Panthers, while Reed, Barrett and Harding had two RBIs apiece.
The loss ended Augusta’s season at 1-10.
2B- (SP) C. Briseno
HR- (SP) B. Swolsky
RBI- (A) Reed 2, Barrett 2, Harding 2, Sallee, T. Mains (SP) B. Swolsky 4, J. Swolsky 3, Williams, Bauer, Poczatek
LOB- Augusta 9, St. Patrick 6
WP- Gallenstein. LP- Remley
Records: Augusta 1-10, St. Patrick 6-5