Despite Frankford’s underwhelming hitting and sloppy fielding, Rico Lugo was confident that the tight-knit Pioneers would find a way to finish on top in Wednesday’s Public League baseball final against Central.
“It’s all about keeping it together and powering through,” the junior third baseman and leadoff man said. “We’re a family. We don’t give up on each other.”
Although they were held to five hits and committed four errors, the Pioneers captured their second straight league championship with a 5-4 victory over the Lancers at Richie Ashburn Field in FDR Park.
“It’s not the way we usually play, but we just needed to stay in the game and make something happen,” Frankford coach Juan Namnun said.
Starting pitcher Luis Ramos’ two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a 4-4 deadlock. “The pitch I hit was a change-up,” he said. “I stayed back on it and ripped it. When I saw the ball drop into left field, I was like, ‘Yeah, we got this.’ ”
Lugo reached safely on an error to open the frame, moved to second base on Jason DeJesus’ sacrifice bunt, and scored on Ramos’ second RBI single of the afternoon.
The Pioneers won their fifth Public League crown in the last eight seasons and their 10th since 2000. “It feels awesome,” said Ramos, a junior southpaw who yielded four hits and two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. “We started working toward this goal in October.”
Frankford (17-1) will take on La Salle (20-3) in the PIAA District 12 Class 6A final at 4 p.m. Friday at Abraham Lincoln.
With his sixth title in 11 seasons, Namnun eclipsed the five won by his predecessor, Bob Peffle. Namnun was Peffle’s assistant for nine years. “That part of it is bittersweet for me,” Namnun said. “Bob is like a dad to me.”
Central grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first. The first run came on a passed ball and the second was courtesy of Eamon McCoubrey’s RBI single.
The Lancers (18-5) upped their lead to 3-0 in the third on Brooks Ey’s RBI groundout. Frankford cut the gap to 3-2 in the bottom half on DeJesus’ RBI double and Tyler Montilla’s RBI single.
The Pioneers moved ahead, 4-3, in the fourth. Lugo scored on a wild-pitch strikeout, and Ramos plated Dioanny Mejia with a single through the middle. Central evened things in the sixth when McCoubrey doubled to left and scored on a throwing error.
Sophomore righthander Abenego Santos took over for Ramos with two outs in the sixth and, after plunking a batter to load the bases, produced a clutch strikeout.
The Lancers, who were seeking their first title since they beat Frankford, 7-3, in 2010, were also hurt by four errors.
Central 201 001 0-4 5 4
Frankford 002 201 X-5 5 4
WP: Abenego Santos. LP: David Ortiz. 2B: C-Eamon McCoubrey; F-Jason DeJesus.