Too little pitching, too much Shortie.
That pretty much summed up last night's PIAA District 12 Class AAAA championship game between Central and Frankford. Despite grabbing a 5-1 lead in the third inning, the pitching-thin Lancers were no match for Esteban "Shortie" Meletiche and the Pioneers.
Four Central hurlers issued 11 walks, including two intentional passes, and Meletiche starred with his arm and bat as Frankford rolled to a 15-5, six-inning win at Campbell's Field in Camden.
After struggling in the early going, Meletiche retired 12 of the last 13 batters en route to a five-hitter. At the plate, the smooth senior knocked in four runs and scored two.
In the bottom of the sixth, with the Pioneers ahead by 13-5 and runners on first and third, Meletiche ended things by smashing a two-run triple to left-center. The game was halted by the 10-run mercy rule.
"It was a fastball, dead down the middle," Meletiche said. "I knew I was going to see a fastball, and I just reacted to it."
Frankford, which won its second consecutive Public League title and fifth in the last six seasons, totaled nine runs in the third inning on just two hits. Juan Namnun's squad capitalized on seven walks (two intentional), an error, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
Since senior ace Micah Winterstein was struggling with arm and shoulder miseries, Central skipper Bob Barthelmeh elected to start junior Zackary Magdovitz. Magdovitz, sidelined in the semifinals with neck spasms, unraveled in the third with six walks.
"We threw everybody that we had today," said Barthelmeh, whose squad made its fourth straight appearance in the final. "We would have loved to put Micah on the mound right from the beginning, but he was hurting and we decided to use somebody else."
Winterstein came over from first base and relieved Magdovitz in the third inning. He lasted only 10 pitches. Jon Bracero touched him for a three-run double to center, and Edwin "Tito" Rohena followed with a three-run triple, traveling nearly 400 feet, in the same direction.
Frankford (19-2) advanced to the state tournament. On Monday, in a 3 p.m. start at La Salle University, the Pioneers will play District 1's third place-finisher (the winner of today's Avon Grove-Conestoga matchup) in the first round.
David Doggott, Frankford's third baseman and No. 7 hitter, scored three runs against Central. Bracero, Rohena, catcher Robinson Rodriguez, and second baseman Gabriel Cedeno each scored twice.
"We didn't panic when we got down early in the game," Namnun said. "And that's one thing I love about this team. We don't panic."
In scoring three runs in its first at-bat, Central (14-9) got an RBI double from shortstop Tom Capewell.
Central 302 000 - 5 5 2
Frankford 019 212 - 15 9 3
WP: Esteban Meletiche. LP: Zackary Magdovitz. 2B: C-Tom Capewell, Mike Braun; F-Meletiche, Jon Bracero. 3B: F-Meletiche, Edwin Rohena.