After cruising through most of the Public League regular season, the Frankford baseball team faced a test in its final two games.
They failed. Miserably.
The Pioneers, with the Independence Division on the line, were humiliated by Central in two straight lopsided games.
“Those two games reminded us how good we really weren’t," Frankford coach Juan Namnum said. “We had guys there were very levelheaded, however, when you get beat down like that, it kind of brings you back down to earth.”
The Pioneers getting knocked down a peg could have been the difference in their season.
After defeating Prep Charter and GAMP in the third and quarterfinal round, respectively, Namnun’s club knocked off Kensington in the semifinals and topped Olney in Friday’s Public League final at FDR Park, 6-1.
Frankford moves on to play Archbishop Wood in Wednesday’s District 12 Class 5A title.
Richard Lugo had the game’s big blow with a two-run double in the second inning that gave the Pioneers a 4-0 lead. Lugo finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
That was plenty of support for junior pitcher Abenago Santos.
Santos, the Public League’s pitcher of the year, tossed a three-hit complete game.
Namnun’s plan coming into the game was to keep the Olney hitters off balance by pitching backwards.
“Hit the strike zone with the secondary pitches and we used the fastball a little like a curveball,” he said. “That was a game plan and it really, really worked out well. [Santos] was the right guy for the spot.”
Part of Frankford’s bunch wanted another crack at Central, but Olney took out the Lancers in the semifinals.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” Namnum said of facing the Trojans. "Olney’s program is top of the line.”
Friday’s victory gives Namnun his seventh Public League crown and second three-peat in 12 seasons at the helm.
Namnun said he could never have imagined having this much success when he took over the Pioneers, but the culture he’s instilled has allowed him to do so.
“I was just trying to keep the legacy going that was already in place and the culture that we built over the 10 or 15 years have been to try and be better than the class before you,” he said. "Our guys take the ownership of trying to be better than last year’s team and it’s really a great thing, a great part of our culture where we may be really good, but next year’s kids try to be better.”
How can next year’s squad be better than this year?
Four-peat. Something Namnun has never done.