BOYERTOWN >> He came back from a trip to Florida with a head start on his summer tan.
Hennessey turned in a complete-game pitching effort for Owen J. Roberts, opening the 2016 season on a decided up note. Between his mound work and an offense displaying both hot bats and patience at the plate, the Wildcats worked a breezy 7-1 victory on the Bears on the first day of the Pioneer Athletic Conference schedule.
Roberts’ senior southpaw showed mid-season form coming out of his team’s recent five-day preseason trek to Sarasota, where it was slated to play a number of teams from the area. He scattered five hits, yielded the Bears a moot-point run in the bottom of the seventh and struck out three while walking none.
“It was awesome,” Hennessey said of the southern trip. “I got my pre-tan going.”
Against Boyertown, Hennessey needed just under 90 pitches to chalk up the win. He ran just one full count and two 3-1 at-bats the whole afternoon, backed by a defense that played errorless ball until the seventh, when a misplayed fly ball to left field enabled the Bears to avert the shutout.
But Hennessey was quick to shake off that one-out blip on his mound performance. He needed just seven more throws to close out the game.
“The coach just told me to keep the ball down … not get too crazy, let the fielders doing their jobs,” he recalled.
“Corey did a nice job,” OJR head coach Greg Gilbert added. “He threw his off-speed pitch for strikes, and kept his pitches down.”
It was the kind of effort Todd Moyer was hoping to see from his Boyertown hurlers. Instead, the three Bear pitchers seeing action — Pat Hohlfeld, Nate Kline, Tyler Mraz — were touched for a combined eight hits and nine walks, hampered further by two errors and a balk.
“Their kid (Hennessey) is a good pitcher who got ahead of batters and changed speeds on his pitches,” Moyer said. “Our guys wanted to do that, but they couldn’t.”
Mraz had the best showing of the Bear trio. Coming on to relieve Kline in the sixth — Kline himself taking over for Hohlfeld three batters into the fourth — the senior recorded only Boyertown’s second 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon in the sixth.
A seventh-inning walk and subsequent wild pitch were the only blemishes on Mraz’ relief effort.
“Mraz threw strikes. That’s why he’s here,” Moyer said. “The first two weren’t getting ahead of batters. They didn’t get their off-speed stuff.”
OJR threatened to get on the scoreboard in its half of the first, getting two walks and an error while having a runner (Joe Zgleszeski) get to third. But a timely double play from right fielder John DeMartino took some of the steam out of that surge.
In the third, the Wildcats parlayed four hits and two walks into a 3-0 lead. Zgleszewski (2-for-3, three RBI) doubled home Andrew Fisher before Riley McGinley (3-for-4) and pinch-runner Josh Fulmer (for Zgleszewski) then scored off Alex Condello’s two-bagger to give OJR a run advantage that ultimately proved enough.
Roberts padded its lead with two more in the fourth, chasing Hohlfeld in the process. Andrew Fisher (walk) came home off Zgleszewski’s sacrifice fly to left, and McGinley (single) followed off a fielder’s choice play that erased Condello at second.
In the fifth, Owen J. added another pair of insurance runs. A C.J. Weaver sac-fly to right plated Bobby Walker (safe on error, stolen base) before Fisher (walk) came in off a Zgleszewski single.
“The kids were patient at the plate, which we needed them to be,” Gilbert said. “They produced quality at-bats, and put the ball in play.”
Outside Longacre’s double, Boyertown’s other hits were singles by Michael Raneri, Ryan Jacobs, Corey Melchio and Tyler Kreitz. Suffice it to say, Moyer is looking for a different result Thursday when Boyertown visits Upper Perkiomen in a game rescheduled from Friday.
“I want to see us get the game in,” he said. “I want us to be on track, play a cleaner game. I told the kids before the game I didn’t was us giving them extra outs.”
OJR, in the meantime, gets to savor success built on its trip to Florida … though it was able to get only one game in, due to weather constraints.
“It was a chance for the kids to spend time together, to get to know each other,” Gilbert said. “It was a great experience for them.”
“It really does help,” Hennessey added. “While it’s cold up here, we were able to get some reps in.”
NOTES >> Hohlfeld was called for a balk in the fourth. That enabled Fisher and McGinley to move into scoring position in advance of Zgleszewski’s sac-fly RBI. … Next up for Owen J. is a Friday date at Pottstown (4 p.m.).
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