On paper, if you look at the Nation Ford Falcons' record and how their regular season went, they aren’t supposed to be in the Upper State playoff bracket for baseball. Don’t tell them that.
Despite facing elimination, Nation Ford is still alive in the 5A baseball playoffs with a 3-2 win Saturday over the Riverside Warriors to improve to 13-15 on the season. Nation Ford will now take on TL Hanna Monday night in another elimination game. If the Falcons win that game, they will travel to Dorman Wednesday for a chance to sweep a doubleheader and win the Upper State championship.
“In the regular season, there were a lot of ups and downs for us,” said Falcons’ head coach Stas Swerdzewski.
That could easily be an understatement as Nation Ford lost 10 of its last 12 games entering the playoffs. However, once the playoffs started, Nation Ford breezed through the district round and despite falling to Dorman in the opening round of the Upper State bracket, bounced back against Riverside.
Swerdzewski said on paper, the Falcons aren’t supposed to be in the position, but the team believes and has a lot of confidence. And because of their record and how they are viewed, Swerdzewski said that his players are not feeling the pressure.
“We took the mentality that we are playing with house money,” he said. “We are playing with no pressure on us.”
Against Riverside, the Warriors struck first, scoring a run in the first inning and then added another run in the third to go up 2-0. However, the pressure wasn’t there for the Falcons and they rallied in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 2-2. Hayden Mobbs led the inning off with a double and then an error by Riverside put Nathan Mahaffey on base. A balk allowed Mobbs to score from third to put Nation Ford on the board and then Mahaffey scored on a fielders’ choice from Bradley Bott.
In the fifth inning with two outs, Tyler Causey singled to get things started for the Falcons. Both Bott and J.D. Schumacher singled with Schumacher driving in the game-winner, allowing Causey to score.
On the mound for Nation Ford, Bott struggled early in the first inning, but would settle down and get out of jams in the third and sixth innings. Bott pitched a complete game, going seven innings and allowing five hits while walking three and striking out six.
Swerdzewski said he feels confident moving forward despite another loss for Nation Ford closing out the season in the double elimination tournament.
“If you look at our pitching staff, we got five guys that have pitched the majority of innings for us,” he said. “We have depending on three starting arms for most of the year.”
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM