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Versaw-Barnes, Cheltenham blank Norristown

WEST NORRITON >> Cheltenham’s Kieran Versaw-Barnes knows how to shut down the Norristown lineup.

For the second time in two weeks, the freshman blanked the Eagles Thursday, 6-0, in a Suburban One League American Conference game at Norristown Area High School.

Versaw-Barnes scattered four hits over seven innings. He struck out seven batters, walked none and hit two.

“He had a masterful performance,” Cheltenham coach Craig Stein said. “He kept them off-balance really well. He had all his pitches working. He was under 70 pitches I think for the game — somebody said he threw seven or eight balls the entire day. He’s really doing well for us.”

“He pretty much dominated us,” Norristown coach Rich Campbell said. “There’s not much else to say … We didn’t hit. He obviously had our batters fooled — we had four strikeouts looking, something we’ve been working on. He had our number two weeks ago (10-0 Cheltenham win), he had our number today.”

Versaw-Barnes only allowed the leadoff batter on base once, which was in the top of the first. That threat quickly faded when the second batter hit into a double play.

Norristown’s biggest threat came in the bottom of the fourth inning, but, again, Versaw-Barnes got out of it with a double play. Norristown’s Charles Grello blooped a ball up the middle with one out and runners on first and third. RJ Magallanes ran it down from second base and doubled off the runner at first.

“We had two threats,” Campbell said, “and we hit two soft line drives that they were able to field and double us off and took us out of rallies. That was pretty much the tone of the game once we couldn’t get anything going in those situations it was pretty much over for us.”

The Panthers offense did all of its damage in two innings — the fourth and the sixth.

Jawan West ripped a two-out single in the fourth followed by a Wes Giles ground-rule double. Nissim Lebovitz followed by hitting into an error and both runs scored.

In the sixth, West, who was 3-for-4 in the game, hit a ground-rule RBI double to make it a 3-0 Cheltenham lead. The next three runs in the inning scored on a wild pitch, balk and Jack McHugh sacrifice fly.

“(West) is coming around and Wes Giles I think he’s really sparked us,” Stein said. “(Giles) started hitting a couple weeks ago and the whole team kind of followed off of him. The two of them in the order there, they’re starting to come around.”

Norristown ace Nick Edling started and threw 6 1/3 innings. He allowed six runs — three earned — and six hits while striking out four batters, walking four and hitting one. Tyler Pastella tallied the final two outs for the Eagles.

Both teams entered the game as long shots to earn a trip to the District 1 playoffs.

“We were pretty much out of it before today,” Campbell said. “We’re just trying to play to get to .500 again or a little above that and have a winning season.”

Cheltenham was not ready to give up on its playoff hopes just yet.

“We have a lot of games left because of all the rainouts,” Stein said. “We still have nine games left in a short period of time. How many are we going to get in? I don’t know. We’re going to keep going like we have a shot. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, we’ll see and we’ll go from there. The kids are coming out and they’re competing. We had a slow start but we’re playing hard now.”

Norristown’s loss came on Senior Day.

“All the seniors got into the game for at least two or three innings,” Campbell said. “Everyone got to bat. We did our best to accommodate (the seniors) and let them have a little fun.”

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