Pioneers Shutout Berks Catholic in Season Opener
651 days ago the Pioneers were at Lubrano Park fighting for what would have been the program's third PIAA title. They haven't played a competitive game since. After a very long wait, the Pioneers have finally begun their Section 3/L-L League title defense. Despite the near 50 MPH wind gusts, it felt like a beautiful day for baseball. Derek Brynildsen started on the bump for the visiting Berks Catholic Saints, while senior Caleb Guyer was handed the ball for the Pioneers.
Caleb Guyer in Scrimmage vs Cocalico (Jon Klein)
The Pioneers struck first, with Andrew Whitehead scoring on a ground ball hit by Owen Fikkert in the bottom of the second inning. Guyer had his best stuff going, striking out 9 batters in 4 innings of work. The Saints were unable to enter the hit column until the fourth inning, when Russell Emrich hit a ground ball up the middle for a single.
The serious damage came in the fourth inning, with the Pioneers scoring 7 runs and hitting around the batting order. Giovanni Malatesta knocked in 2 on a single to left field, later scoring himself after a defensive mishap by the Saints. Peyton Harsh and Isaiah Parido crossed the plate on another defensive error, and Braedon Karpathios added two more after a fly ball got lost in the wind. The Pioneers entered the fifth inning up 8-0, needing only two more runs to trigger the mercy rule.
Andrew Whitehead relieved Guyer in the fifth inning, preserving the shutout. In the bottom half of the inning, Owen Fikkert crossed the plate on yet another throwing error. The Saints ended up tallying 6 errors, handing the Pioneers at least 4 runs. Two pitches later, Giovanni Malatesta stole 3rd base, with the throwdown bouncing off the glove of third baseman Michael Bradley. Malatesta took full advantage of the mistake, sliding into home plate and securing the first win of the season for the Pioneers.
Next up for the Saints is a trip to Reading on Monday. The Pioneers move to 1-0 and will head to Elverson on Monday for another non-league battle with the Raiders. It's a busy week for the Pioneers, who will also face Conestoga Valley and Manheim Central before Spring break.
-By Logan Moyer, LS News reporter