RED LION — Red Land baseball’s Drew Hildebrand has been in this moment before.
Ducks on the pond. Two outs. Tight game.
He thrives in the big moment.
Holding a one-run edge in the fifth inning — in a two-out rally fueled by an Ethan Phillips double — of Monday’s PIAA Class 5A first round matchup aginst the Fightin’ Tigers of Marple Newtown, Hildebrand one-upped his bases-clearing double from the District 3 championships by plating a pair of runs on a slap-shot single, jetting the Patriots to a three-run lead.
“I mean, I’ve had two awesome at bats and I try not to think about being the big star and everything,” Hildebrand said with a huge smile and laugh about his two plate appearances. “But to come through, it’s pretty cool.”
“I’ve coached him since he was 11 years old, through all stars and travel ball and he was my No. 3 hitter for probably four years in travel ball,” Red Land head coach Nate Ebbert said of Hildebrand. “So, he can hit. But in this lineup, he’s not a three hitter. But he can still hit like one.”
All that was left was a Phillips’ RBI single in the sixth to stamp Red Land’s 6-3 win and ticket to the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinals. The Pats concluded the night with nine knocks.
“It’s tough to go through our lineup four times,” Ebbert said. “We put together good at bats, the whole way up and down our lineup.”
On the mound, the Patriots used the tandem of Ryan Gordon and Christian Lubic to stifle the potent Marple Newtown lineup. Gordon fired a respectable 4 2/3 innings, scattering a trio of hits on two unearned runs, fanning one and plunking two Tigers. Lubic worked the remaining 2 1/3 innings, permitting one earned run to go along with two knocks and two knee-buckles.
Hildebrand’s clutch fifth-frame single wasn’t his only run-scoring knock on the evening as he scratched across the first Red Land run of the game on a second inning RBI single. He finished the nightcap with a 2-for-2 line, which included a catcher’s interference.
“It’s just see ball, hit ball for me,” Hildebrand said. “It sounds simple and it is. I try not to think. … Ever. I think some of us try to do too much, but our team’s not like that. We just pass it on to the next guy.”
Phillips finished 2-for-4 with his two-bagger and single, and Brady Ebbert sported an RBI single with a walk in three plate appearances. Skylar Hertzler drove in the other Patriot run on a fourth-inning sac fly. Kaden Peifer also went 2-for-3 at the dish.
Dillon Can was the only Tiger to see much success off the Red Land hurlers — he accounted for two of the three RBIs for Marple Newtown, one on a double and the other on a sac fly. The Tiger’s other run came via an error.
Rectifying its tough-to-swallow 6-4 loss to Marple Newtown four years ago in the first round of the state championships, Red Land advances to Thursday’s Class 5A quarterfinals where they’ll meet District 12’s frontrunner Archbishop Wood at a site yet to be determined. The Vikings defeated Oxford 4-0 Monday.
They said it
Ebbert on his team’s at bats Monday: “We had really good at bats. Skylar had good at bats, Braden [Kolmansberger] had good at bats, Brady [Ebbert] had good at bats and when you put together a bunch good at bats, good things happen.”
Ebbert on Monday’s win: “That was a big team win right there, a big team win.”
Email Jake Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520