Lindsey Smith / PBI

Reading Clinches Spot in EL Playoffs

They have the Eastern League’s MVP and the manager of the year; now the Reading Fightins will play post-season baseball for the first time in two years. Monday the Fightin Phils clinched their first trip to the post season since 2012 with a 6-2 win over the Binghamton Mets. 

Facing Steven Matz, the Fightins struggled to get hits off the 24-year-old and fell behind 2-0 in the fourth inning. Matz, who is in Binghamton on rehab, allowed only one hit through 5.1 innings, but ran through his allotted pitch limit quickly. Wathan said while the team has talent in all areas, the Fightins’ ability to actively wear down a pitcher is a big reason for the success of this young team. 

“We’ve seen it all year,” Wathan said. “They do a tremendous job of grinding out their at-bats early in the ballgame making starting the pitchers throw a few too many pitches in some innings and making sure the bullpen is in.”

After Matz’s exit from the game, the Fightins were able to earn some runs in the seventh inning to tie the game 2-2 and then went ahead thanks to a double from J.P. Crawford that brought in two runners and gave Reading a 4-2 lead.

Adam Kolarek was on the mound for the Mets and faced just four batters in the seventh inning, with all four scoring. 

Dylan Cozens would later hit a two-run home run to right field to lock in the win in the eighth inning. 

“I never really celebrated like this before,” Crawford said as he adjusted his goggles and snorkel (the team would later jump into the pool in right field). “I’m here for the first time with a bunch of my close friends on this team, it’s a dream come true.”

The season is not over yet, though. The team is back on the field tomorrow against Binghamton, where another win will clinch the division for the Fightin Phils. 

“We are going to enjoy this, especially for the guys who have been here all year and have been grinding it out,” Wathan said. “We are going to enjoy tonight and come back tomorrow and hopefully try to wrap up the division.”

But don’t worry, Crawford said if the team wins tomorrow they will be celebrating pool-side again.

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