A little tweak here and there, and who knows, maybe the fortunes of Lower Merion’s baseball team would be a little different at this stage of the season. But while the Aces remain competitive, they’ve fallen victim to the dreaded “glitch” inning, the frame where everything quickly unravels.
On Tuesday against a surging Penncrest team, that inning was the seventh. The Aces had remained close to Penncrest, but the Lions burst open with a four-run seventh and won, 7-1, in a Central League game at South Ardmore Park.
The loss dropped the Aces to 1-7 overall and in the league, while Penncrest improved to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the league. Senior righty Rih Weker pitched well for a time but took the loss, while Penncrest’s Tyler Rybarczyk notched the win, upping his record to 4-1 this year.
“We have been in almost every game this year, they’ve all been very close, it’s just that one mistake happens and everything breaks loose,” Weker said. “It isn’t all about winning and losing, as long as we play to the best of our ability. But I can’t lie, it is frustrating, sure, you want to win.”
The game was close for six innings. Penncrest held a 3-1 lead and still hadn’t completely figured out Weker. The Lions had a few chances to open it up, but the dam finally broke in the top of the seventh inning.
Penncrest batted around, sending 10 batters to the plate and hammering Weker, whose effective breaking balls and fastballs were getting up in the strike zone. The Lions opened up a big lead and Lower Merion wasn’t able to recover.
“That’s been the issue this year, one bad inning or one mistake and it costs us,” said Lower Merion junior shortstop Pete Siciliano, who had an excellent day for the Aces, going 3-for-3. “Our problem has been putting our foot on the gas. We haven’t been able to put that full package together. Each game, we’ve had something new come up that’s been our Achilles heel.”
While Penncrest has continued finding ways to win. The Lions have now won three of their last four, and a pattern seems to be brewing. Whereas Lower Merion has had that one big “glitch” inning, Penncrest has been able to rely on an explosive inning.
In Penncrest’s eight victories this season, the Lions are averaging 8.1 runs a game.
“I thought [Weker] did a nice job, but what we did today was show patience,” Penncrest coach Steve Silva said. “These guys have a confidence and belief in themselves, and Lower Merion has been in some games, they’ve proven to be a pretty good team. But I like the direction we’re going right now. The kids are starting to believe.”