SMITHFIELD — Colonial 3's Preston Frost was one out away from a complete-game victory, but even though the Brownsville Area High School senior had to leave the game due to pitch-count restrictions, he did more than enough in his team's 5-1 victory over Smithfield-Fairchance on Tuesday in the first round of the Fayette County American Legion Baseball playoffs at Smithfield Ball Field.
The two were scheduled to play on Monday, but the field was washed away, as rain hit the Smithfield area, but seemingly no place else in Fayette County, about an hour before first pitch.
Frost limited a strong Smithfield-Fairchance offense to one run on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He had five strikeouts and walked five before being lifted with two outs in the seventh. Frost threw 105 pitches.
"I was able to get ahead in the count and hit my spots," Frost said. "My catcher, DJ Zimcosky, does a good job of framing spots and that helps out a lot."
Rocco Frisco came in for Frost and struck out the last batter to send Colonial 3 (8-8) to Thursday's game against top-seeded Uniontown (15-0, 17-3) in the semifinals of the winner's bracket.
"I can't say enough about Preston's performance today," Colonial 3 coach Dave Zimcosky said. "He hit his spots and kept them off-balance. He worked fast and efficient, and had a great game, so hat's off to Preston.
"We got some breaks today and the ball definitely bounced our way. We had nine kids here today for the playoffs, and I couldn't ask for anymore from the nine that were here. We will see if we can stay hot and make a run. If my nine guys show up like they did today, we will battle and be right with Uniontown."
Frost's fastball was his most effective pitch, and he also credited his defense for helping him earn the victory.
"I like to throw my fastball outside," Frost said. "It is hard for people to hit that when it's on. I also have to credit my defense for making the plays behind me."
Colonial 3 put pressure on Smithfield-Fairchance (9-7) and took some off of Frost with a run in the top of the first.
Ricky Marucci and Nick Keeney reached on infield singles before DJ Zimcosky advanced to first on a fielder's choice with Keeney being forced out at second. Marucci scored on Mike Petrock's grounder to third for a 1-0 lead.
"It makes all the difference when you are pitching with a lead," coach Zimcosky said. "Preston's confidence was definitely there today and he just did an awesome job."
Marucci, who graduated from Brownsville in 2018, is one of the veterans for Coach Zimcosky, and was constantly encouraging Frost.
"I've coached Ricky since he was nine-years-old all the way up through, and he is like having another coach on the field," Zimcosky said. "He always was like that and he continues to be like that. I'm proud of the way he steps up and he is a leader."
Colonial 3 took advantage of some miscues by Smithfield-Fairchance to extend its lead to 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third.
Petrock reached on an infield single, Frisco got to first on an error and both moved up on a wild pitch before scoring when a ball hit by Frost was misplayed in the infield.
"We didn't have our best fielding day, and that hurt us," Smithfield-Fairchance coach Steve Strange said. "We had some base runners today, but we couldn't get them in when we needed to. Obviously, their guy pitched really well.
"I was real hopeful we would have been able to continue drawing walks and make him pitch deeper in the count, but that's obviously easier said than done. We didn't play our best game."
Smithfield-Fairchance cut the deficit to 3-1 with a run in the bottom of the third when Willie Palmer walked and stole second. Chandler Goodwin, who had two hits, singled, and Palmer scored on Creed Potkul's base hit to right field.
Colonial 3 regained a three-run lead in the fifth when DJ Zimcosky singled to right, Frisco singled for his second base hit and Zimcosky scored on Jason Cooper's double to centerfield.
Marucci pushed Colonial's advantage to 5-1 in the sixth when he singled, stole second and scored on Petrock's base hit to right field.
Coach Zimcosky was pleased with his team's effort from 1-9, in particular, No. 8 hitter Austin Lincoski, who had three singles and walked.
"Austin did a great job today with the bat," Zimcosky said. "He is coming off an illness, he missed the last few games, he was pretty sick, but he toughed it out for us today and had a nice game and swung the bat well."
Nate Bricker took the loss for Smithfield-Fairchance in allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. He had six strikeouts and walked one. Palmer came on in relief of Bricker and pitched 1 1/3. Palmer threw 26 pitches, and would be available if needed for tonight's game. Jarred Provance threw 13 pitches in an inning of work.
"We wanted to keep Willie under 30 pitches, that way we would have the option to start him tomorrow if we choose to, so that was by design," Strange said.
Strange and Smithfield-Fairchance will do their best to regroup against Farmington (7-10) this evening at 6 p.m. in an elimination game at Smithfield Ball Field.
"We will play Farmington here and our backs are against the wall," Strange said. "It is an elimination game and we got to keep playing to keep our season going."