Bensalem Falls to Canon McMillan in State Title Game

Bensalem fell to Canon McMillan in Friday’s PIAA Class 6A state title game. Photos provided courtesy of Donna Longacre Photography. Check back for a gallery of photos.

Three days after rallying for a dramatic come-from-behind win over La Salle, the Owls looked as though they were back at it again when they erased an early 3-0 deficit with a three-run fourth inning.
“We battled back and tied it, and I thought – ‘Here we go again. We’re actually going to win again,’” coach Harry Daut said.
The Owls certainly looked like they had all the momentum, but the Big Macs erased any momentum they may have had with a seven-run fifth.
“Dom (Grady) isn’t used to pitching, and I think he threw over 80 (pitches), so that was a lot for him,” Daut said.  “He pitched great.
“Give them credit – they hit every pitch we threw them at the end. We tried curveball – they hit it. We tried change-up – they hit it. We tried fastball – they hit it.”
All told, the Big Macs had 10 hits. They also benefitted from seven walks and a hit batter. Grady was pressed into emergency relief duty when starter Nick Dean was lifted after one inning with a tweak in his back.
The Big Macs plated a pair of runs off Dean in the first and another off Grady in the third to go on top 3-0. True to form, the Owls battled back, knotting the score in the fourth.
Dean got things started with a single to center, and Stephen Aldrich’s high chopper to the pitcher turned into a base hit when no one was there to cover the first base bag. Both runners advanced on wild pitches, and another wild pitch allowed Dean to score. One out later, Damon Lavender lined a double to right center that plated Aldrich. The tying run came home when Scott Rooney’s sharp grounder down the first base line was misplayed.
That tie held up until the bottom of the fifth when the Big Macs sent 12 men to the plate. With two outs, a run across and the bases loaded, Nick Fossile replaced Grady on the mound. The Big Macs benefitted from five hits with Cam Walker delivering the big blow – a bases-clearing double that broke the game open.
“When we came back and tied it, it just felt like we’re going to do what usually do – come back and win the thing, the underdogs,” Grady said. “Sometimes things just don’t go your way.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing. The worst part is seeing your team with its heads down, but we keep each other up.”
“When we tied it up, it seemed like it was going to be a lot closer game than it was,” senior Brian Swentkowski said. “That’s the crazy thing about baseball – any team can come out and score seven runs like that.”
The Owls closed out the season with 23 wins, the SOL National Conference title, the District One 6A crown and a state runner-up finish.  
“Just the opportunity to be here – we went through some really good teams like Parkland, Souderton, La Salle, Williamsport,” Daut said.  “We just peaked at the right time and ran into a tough pitcher, who’s been a tough pitcher all year.
“I’m extremely, extremely proud of these guys.”
The Owls captured the imagination of an entire community during their magical postseason run.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling when you’re going up to bat or even just running out to the field to have all those people behind you,” Swentkowski said. “It’s not even something you can explain.”
“We were able to appreciate it,” Rooney said. “Especially after the game when you look into the crowd and they’re all cheering you on even though we just lost.
“They knew we did something great this year. They would have liked to see us win it all, but at the same time, we still put Bensalem where it’s never been before.”
Bensalem (10-2 SOL) closed out its historic season with a 23-4 record.
EXTRA INNINGS:  Zach Rohaley – who has just one loss the past two seasons - picked up his second win of the week. It came on the heels of Tuesday’s state semifinal win over Council Rock North that saw the Wheeling Jesuit recruit throw six innings. He stayed under the maximum pitch count of 75, making him eligible to pitch on two days rest. He threw 97 pitches in six strong innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out six and walking none…Rooney’s 2-for-3 effort led the Owls.

Grady stands tall in mound stint – Rightfielder Dom Grady admits the idea of pitching in Friday’s state title game never crossed his mind.
“Coming into the game, I just figured I’d stay out in right, have a good game out in right,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking about pitching because I knew we had a good pitching staff.
“I just had my mind on the game the whole time, and whatever happened happened. Just do what you got to do for the team. I tried to hit my spots, really just let them hit the ball, put it in play and make the plays.”
Grady says he can’t remember the last time he was on the mound, but he struck out seven in 3.2 innings. He was one out away from getting out of a lot trouble in the seven-run fifth, but that out came after the damage had been done. He was relieved by Nick Fossile with two outs in the inning.
“He was awesome,” coach Harry Daut said of Grady. “He’s a great kid. He doesn’t think too much out there. He’s kind of laid back. I don’t want to say surfer guy, but that’s kind of what he is.
“Nothing really bothers him. This type of thing doesn’t bother him at all. The plan was maybe he would get us three or four innings and then we’d close with (Nick) Fossile.”
For Grady, it’s been an unforgettable journey.
“It’s crazy – I wasn’t supposed to be in right field starting this year,” he said. “I just picked it up for the team, and our team just picked it up for each other.”

End of an era for standout senior class – They’ve been together forever, lining up on the diamond as teammates and friends. For Bensalem’s nine seniors – Ed Aldrich, Stephen Aldrich, Nick Fossile, Greg Janowski, Nick Kiesling, Keith Parrish, Jon Revell, Scott Rooney and Brian Swentkowski, Friday’s games marked the end of the line.
“It’s hard, honestly – graduation yesterday and then this today,” Rooney said. “I was sitting there in the sixth inning, and it was like, ‘Win or lose, this is over.’ It was crazy – I had two innings left.”
It was an unforgettable journey for starters and reserves alike.
“It’s easily been the best year of my life just with how close our team was, the memories we made, just the whole season in general,” Swentkowski said. “I don’t think I’ll ever be closer with a group of guys in my whole life.
“This is something I’ll tell my kids about, I’ll tell their kids about. We’ll go down as the best baseball team to come out of Bensalem High School, for sure.”
“I really haven’t played much this year,” Ed Aldrich said. “But just watching these guys, it was absolutely amazing. I was on the edge of my seat every game. I loved it.”
“The things I’m going to remember most are baseball trips to Disney and just the practices – they’re fun,” Rooney said. “Our coach makes them real loose and let’s us do what we want.
“It’s amazing. A lot of kids on our team are only baseball athletes, so we’ve been really going at this season since September, so it’s really been a six or seven-month run, not just the baseball season. We’ve all been really close, and I love it. We’re all going different ways now.”

Bensalem (3) – Brian Swentkowski ss 3-0-0-0, Ed Aldrich ph 1-0-0-0, Keith Parrish cf 4-0-1-0, Nick Dean p 3-1-1-0, Austin Shay pr 0-0-0-0, Dave Barnett rf 0-0-0-0, Stephen Aldrich 2b 3-1-1-0, Jon Revell lf 3-0-0-0, Damon Lavender dh 3-0-1-1, Nickolas Kiesling pr 0-1-0-0, Scott Rooney c 3-0-2-0, Brian Janowski pr 0-0-0-0, Dom Grady rf 3-0-0-0, Nick Fossile 1b 3-0-0-0, Matt Silano 3b 0-0-0-0, TOTALS 29-3-6-1.
Canon McMillan (10) – Brandon Kline rf 2-2-2-2, Cam Walker ss 2-2-1-3, Ian Hess 1b 4-1-2-1, Cam Weston dh 2-0-0-1, Nick Serafino cf 2-1-1-2, Brandon Rea c 3-0-1-0, Greg Siller pr 1-1-0-0, Zach Rohaley p 3-0-0-0, Virgill Brycen pr 0-1-0-0, Connor Flaherty 3b 3-1-1-0, Greydon Piechnick lf 3-1-1-1, Cory Didler ph 1-0-1-0, Nick Popielarcyzk pr 0-0-0-0, Nick Gregory 0-0-0-0, TOTALS 26-10-10-10.
Bensalem       000 300 0   3-6-0
Canon McMillan        210 070 0   10-10-3
E - Cam Walker, Ian Hess, Nick Gregory. LOB – Bensalem 5, Canon McMillan 8. 2B – Damon Lavender, Cam Walker. SB – Greg Siller.
Bensalem                    ip         h          r          er        bb       so
Nick Dean                  1.0       2          2          2          1          0
Dom Grady (L)           3.2       5          5          5          4          7
Nick Fossil                 1.1       3          3          3          2          2
Canon McMillan          ip         h          r          er        bb       so
Zach Rohaley (W)       6.0       6          3          2          0          6
Cam Weston              1.0       0          0          0          0          2