INTER-AC Baseball – The warmer climate has a tendency to help batters. It also benefits pitchers.
Hence much better baseball games for spectators, not to mention not needing a parka and hot chocolate to survive bitter cold conditions.
As the Inter-Academic League turns the final corner for the last three games of the regular season, plenty of good baseball beckons for each of the six teams.
As for capturing the ultimate league championship, two teams have emerged as frontrunners. Three other teams need a minor miracle to finish, at best, tied for a title. One other has been eliminated.
Malvern Prep has won four straight. Tuesday’s 9-5 victory over Haverford School was fueled by three RBI each from junior Chris Newell (three hits) and senior Brady Devereux. The Friars (5-2 in Inter-Ac) are tied for first with Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy.
Junior Liam Dabagian threw 4.1 innings and picked up the victory.
Dabagian had combined with sophomore Jordan Dissin to thwart Penn Charter, 3-1, a week earlier.
“The past few games I have thrown have been a great experience,” said Dabagian. “I know going into games that I need to set a tone for our team and do the best I can. Our team has struggled a bit this year all around, but we are starting to pull the pieces together and I’m excited to see what we can become.”
Ditto, said Devereux.
“I think we are finally starting to come together as a team and buy into the culture of Malvern baseball,” said Devereux. “We’re all playing for the guy next to us and it’s showing on the field that we are as good as we want to be.”
The Friars have established an ability to weather potential disasters. In a 5-3 win over Episcopal, Malvern trailed 3-0 after one inning and atypically committed several errors before scoring five unanswered runs, aided by junior Charlie Andress’ two-run single that highlighted a four-run sixth inning.
“It was a big come from behind win that we really needed, especially to stay in the race for the Inter-Ac,” said senior Billy Corcoran. “We didn't play our best as a team, but any time you can tough out a game against your rivals, it's good.”
Corcoran whisked aside superfluous credit regarding his complete-game, five-hit performance that included no earned runs.
“I thought I could've done better,” said Corcoran, “but I just focused on doing what I had to do and letting the rest work itself out.”
Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy (5-2) defeated Germantown Academy on Tuesday, 4-2, for its third straight win and a share of first place with Malvern Prep.
Aidan Frye allowed two runs in the first but settled down to record his second impressive win in three games. The senior had dominated Episcopal Academy, 7-0, on April 24. On the mound, Frye allowed just four hits and struck out eight. He also contributed three of SCH’s eight hits.
SCHA senior pitcher Aidan Frye #9 - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Teammate Jared Sprague-Lott knocked in three runs. Two days later, the sophomore turned a fifth-inning, 4-3 SCH deficit into a 6-4 lead with a three-run double.
“All I did was attack with the fastball,” said Frye, referring to his whitewash of Episcopal. “I didn’t throw off-speed until they proved they could hit my fastball.”
If there were an “almost but not quite” award, Germantown Academy (3-4) would accept the honors hands down.
Six runs. That’s the composite total of run differential in the Patriots’ four losses.
GA junior Colten Smith #16 - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Setbacks of 6-5 (Penn Charter), 4-2 (SCH), 2-1 (Haverford School), and 4-2 (SCH Tuesday afternoon) were met with impressive victories over first-place Malvern Prep (3-2), Episcopal Academy (9-2), and Penn Charter (8-2).
Sophomore Shane Harkins’ first-inning, two-run blast against SCH didn’t hold up. Five days earlier, Junior Colten Smith’s brilliant pitching performance against Penn Charter (complete game, five hits, no walks) and contributions from senior Mike Reilly (two hits, two RBI) and sophomore Dante Messina (two hits) supplied a rare respite from anxiety.
“Keeping my pitch count down is key and getting through batters in less than four pitches is something I try to do throughout my starts,” said Smith, who lauded his defense, particularly second baseman Messina, for “a ton of great plays that really helped.”
Before Haverford School lost 9-5 to Malvern (junior Sean Clark two hits, two RBI) and 8-4 to SCH (senior Nick Holtz two RBI, senior Justin Meyer homerun), the Friars trimmed Germantown Academy, 2-1.
Junior Joe Bonini’s two-run single in the second inning was all pitcher Zak Summy needed. The junior hurled the first six innings and surrendered only three hits and one run before junior Calvin Costner wrapped up the final inning.
“My goal going into the game was to get off to a better start than my previous outings,” said Summy. “When Joe had his two out, two-RBI single in the second inning, I just focused on throwing strikes and keeping the lead, and I knew the team would have my back defensively.
“I would have to say it probably was one of my better games of high school. Just glad we got the win. Glad my coaches had enough faith in me to go out for the sixth. My pitch count was up and I felt like I was short-arming the ball a little in the end. I didn’t feel bad coming out because I had confidence in Calvin’s ability to close the game out for us.”
Haverford catcher Nick Chermol appraised Summy’s outing.
“He came into the game with confidence and a mindset to beat one guy at a time,” said Chermol. “He kept composure throughout. His curveball was on point all game, and he was able to paint the corners with the fastball. He was able to make guys pull the outside fastball for easy groundouts.”
Haverford School pitcher Zak Summy - PSD photo by EA Jr. Reporter Alexandra Conroy
Penn Charter (3-4) halted a three-game losing streak behind a superb performance by Will Samuel. The senior pitched the first six innings and allowed two hits. With the bat, Samuel was a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs batted in.
In an 8-2 loss to Penn Charter, senior Mike Siani knocked in both runs with a two-run double. In a tough 3-1 loss to Malvern Prep, Samuel had two hits and the only RBI.
After a 2-0 start, Episcopal Academy has fallen on hard times. The Churchmen have dropped five straight and are mathematically eliminated from post-season contention.
The 5-3 loss to Malvern Prep stung because at one point, EA used a shoddy Friar defense and a key hit by Isaiah Payton to seize a 3-0 lead after one inning and maintain it until the fifth.
“When we’re playing at the top of our game and play with energy, we’re capable of beating anyone,” said sophomore Brian Virbitsky. “We’re trying to make a strong push to finish out the Inter-Ac and build momentum going into the Independent Tournament.”