Cheryl Pursell

The Reading Fightin Phils and Williamsport Crosscutters both won their playoff games Friday night.

The Reading Phillies grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern League Playoffs, while Williamsport sent their best-of-three series to Game Three with a win over West Virginia.

Reading 3, Binghamton 2 (Reading leads best-of-five series 2-0)

Jake Thompson pitched Reading to a 3-0 win over Binghamton Friday night, with a complete-game shutout. The win put Reading up two-games-to-none, with the series now shifting to Reading for the next three games (if necessary).   

Brock Stassi continues to rake, leading off the top of the second inning with a double off Binghamton starter Robert Gsellman. Cameron Perkins then came through with an RBI single to drive in Stassi, as Reading grabbed a 1-0 lead. Perkins struck again off Gsellman in the top of the third inning, with another RBI single that scored J.P. Crawford and gave Reading a 2-0 lead.  

Gsellman left the game after 4 1/3 innings, when Perkins recorded his third hit of the game, a double with one out in the top of the fifth. Reliever Jeff Walters came into the game and got Harold Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play. Nick Williams would get to Walters with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, when he smashed a solo home run to right that put the Fightins up 3-0.  

Binghamton had runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but manager Dusty Wathan stuck with Thompson, who struck out Brock Peterson to end the game and preserve the win for the Fightin Phils.  Robert Gsellman took the loss.  

It was the first complete game in the playoffs for Reading since September 5 of 2001 when Brett Myers (eight innings) did it in a loss against Erie in game one of a double-header.  It was the first complete game by a Fightin Phils starter since August 17th of last season when Hoby Milner did it against Binghamton.  

Williamsport 3, West Virginia 1 (Best-of-three series tied, one game a piece)

In a short three-game series, Williamsport was facing elimination Friday night after dropping the series opener in West Virginia on Thursday. The series shifted to Williamsport Friday and the Crosscutters took advantage of the opportunity to play in front of their hometown fans to beat West Virginia 3-1 and force a third and final game, which will be at Williamsport Saturday at noon.

Both teams allowed two runners to reach base in the first, but both also stranded those runners. Three innings later, catcher Austin Bossart launched a two-run home run off starter Bret Helton to give Williamsport a 2-0 lead. The blast also scored Carlos Duran, who had opened the inning with a base-hit. It was the second hit of the game for Duran.

Meanwhile, 'cutters starter Franklyn Kilome put it on auto pilot, retiring 11 straight batters after the first inning jam. Kilome gave the Crosscutters five shutout innings before handing things over to Skylar Hunter and the Williamsport bullpen.

Williamsport would stretch the lead to 3-0 when Venn Biter delivered an RBI double to right to score Mark Laird, who led off the inning with a base-hit.

Down three runs, the Black Bears scratched out a run against Hunter in the top of the sixth - you can insert your own Black Bears/Hunter joke here - on a bunt single and a sacrifice bunt followed by an RBI single from Daniel Arrabas, making it a 3-1 ball game. Anthony Sequeira took over in the seventh and went 1 2/3 innings, striking out three before Rob Tasin came in for a four-out save.

The decisive Game Three will feature right-hander Mitch Gueller (10-1, 2.23) going for Williamsport. West Virginia hasn't named a starter for Saturday's game.


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