For Frankford, emotional district crown

Frankford players rush to pitcher Eduardo Sanchez (third from left) after the team won its third straight Public League championship.
Frankford players rush to pitcher Eduardo Sanchez (third from left) after the team won its third straight Public League championship.
Posted: May 30, 2013

Sitting alone in the dugout before joining his players for celebratory picture-taking, Frankford baseball coach Juan Namnun tearfully remembered Edwin "Tito" Rohena.

Rohena, who starred as a centerfielder and pitcher for the Pioneers from 2006 to 2009, died May 17 in a motorcycle crash.

"This was probably the toughest, emotional thing I've had to do," Namnun said after Frankford, aided by eight errors, rolled past Franklin Towne Charter, 9-2, Wednesday at Ashburn Field for its third straight Public League championship.

"There were times today when I would get lost in the game, but then something would remind me of Tito. He was never far from my thoughts."

In leading the Pioneers to their eighth league crown in the last 11 seasons, senior righthander Eduardo "Cheese" Sanchez pitched a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts.

"This was for [Rohena]," Sanchez said. "I know how much he meant to Frankford and the coaching staff."

At 11 a.m. Thursday, back at Ashburn, Frankford (10-9) will vie with Catholic League champ La Salle for the District 12 Class AAAA title.

FTC's season also continues Thursday. In the district's Class AAA final, the Coyotes (12-7-1) will play Catholic League representative Bonner-Prendergast at 3:30 p.m. at La Salle High.

Sanchez, who lives in Juniata Park, mixed a fastball, curveball, and forkball.

"I couldn't get my fastball down in the early innings," he said. "In the fifth inning, I started to locate it."

Of Rohena, Sanchez said, "He was always around, coming to our games and supporting Frankford. He was a great guy, very humble."

Franklin Towne took itself out of the contest with seven fielding miscues in the first four innings. While suffering his first setback of the season, senior righthander Tim Hart, the squad's ace, lasted 31/3 innings.

"He threw a lot of first-pitch fastballs," Sanchez said. "Our coaches let us swing freely. I think that helped us."

Sanchez, also a catcher, was kept out of the rotation earlier this year with what Namnun called a case of "dead arm."

"I didn't pitch for about three weeks," the 18-year-old said. "I wasn't hurt. I just had nothing on my fastball."

All nine of Frankford's hits were singles. In a five-run fourth, Kidanny Cumba (2 for 3, three RBIs, two runs) delivered an infield RBI and Tim DiGiorgio, slapping a 3-2 pitch into short left field, knocked in two to make it 6-1.

Senior righthander Carlos Ramirez is slated to take the mound Thursday against La Salle, which is expected to counter with senior lefthander Tom Cockill.

"It's a huge challenge for us, but we'll do our best to represent our league," said Namnun, who was wearing Rohena's old No. 19 jersey.

Frankford 120 050 1 - 9 9 0

Franklin Towne Chart. 001 000 1 - 2 4 8

WP: Eduardo Sanchez. LP: Tim Hart.


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.inquirer.com/ozone

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