FRANKFORD 9, FRANKLIN TOWNE CHARTER 2
Before joining his players for celebratory picture-taking, Frankford coach Juan Namnun, sitting alone in the dugout, tearfully remembered Edwin "Tito" Rohena.
Rohena, who starred as a centerfielder and pitcher for the Pioneers from 2006 to 2009, died May 17 in a motorcycle crash.
"This was probably the toughest emotional thing I've had to do,"Namnun said after Frankford, aided by eight errors, rolled past Franklin Towne Charter, 9-2, Wednesday at Ashburn Field for its third straight Public League championship.
"There were times today when I would get lost in the game, but then something would remind me of Tito. He was never far from my thoughts."
In leading the Pioneers to their eighth league crown in the last 11 seasons, senior righthander Eduardo "Cheese" Sanchez twirled a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
"This was for [Rohena]," Sanchez said. "I know how much he meant to Frankford and the coaching staff."
At 11 a.m. Thursday, back at Ashburn, Frankford (10-9) will vie with Catholic League champ La Salle for the District 12 Class AAAA title.
FTC's season also continues Thursday. In the district's Class AAA final, the Coyotes (12-7-1) will take on Catholic League representative Bonner-Prendergast at 3:30 p.m. at La Salle High.
Sanchez, who lives in Juniata Park, mixed a fastball, curveball, and forkball. "I couldn't get my fastball down in the early innings," he said. "In the fifth inning, I started to locate it."
Of Rohena, Sanchez said, "He was always around, coming to our games and supporting Frankford. He was a great guy, very humble."
FTC took itself out of the contest with seven fielding miscues in the first four frames. While suffering his first setback of the season, senior righthander Tim Hart, the squad's ace, lasted 3 1/3 innings.
"He threw a lot of first-pitch fastballs," Sanchez said. "Our coaches let us swing freely. I think that helped us."
Sanchez, also a catcher, was kept out of the rotation earlier this year with what Namnun called a case of "dead arm." "I didn't pitch for about three weeks," the 18-year-old said. "I wasn't hurt. I just had nothing on my fastball."
All nine of Frankford's hits were singles. In a five-run fourth, Kidanny Cumba (2 for 3, three RBIs, two runs) delivered an infield RBI and Tim DiGiorgio, slapping a 3-2 pitch into short left field, knocked in two to make it 6-1.
Senior righthander Carlos Ramirez is slated to take the mound Thusday versus La Salle, which is expected to counter with senior lefthander Tom Cockill.
"It's a huge challenge for us, but we'll do our best to represent our league," said Namnun, who was wearing Rohena's old No. 19 jersey.
Frankford 120 050 1-9 9 0
Franklin Towne Charter 001 000 1-2 4 8
WP: Eduardo Sanchez. LP: Tim Hart.