THORNBURY >> Radnor continued living the dream as it earned its first District One Class AAA baseball championship with a 3-0 win over Upper Moreland Wednesday at Everett Swanson Field.
This triumph had another storybook ending. Ace hurler Will Hoysgaard threw a one-hit shutout through six innings and Andrew Austen, who was
born with a congenital limb difference, hurled the final frame for the save in front of his newest fan, 7-year-old Keoni Smith of Springfield.
Smith also plays baseball with a limb difference according to his mother, Jill Smith, who brought her boy to the game to cheer on Austen and the Raiders. You can’t make this up.
“She contacted me and wanted to meet him,” Raiders coach Mark Jordan said. “The guys had a (game of) catch here earlier. That’s what it’s all about. That is so great. We’re just tickled to represent Radnor as the District One champions and be in our first-ever state tournament. All this is just heavy stuff for us.”
Austen’s inning of relief featuring two defensive plays was inspirational not just for the Smiths but for many in attendance, including Ken Irwin, the coach of Upper Moreland.
To reach that point, the Raiders scored for all of their runs in the first inning, Connor Wilson working the count and beating out an error by losing pitcher Joe Bates to kick-start the rally.
Austen followed with a walk, Matt Schaefer singled in Wilson, Martin Connor delivered an RBI-single and the Raiders got another run on a grounder.
“Will was fantastic today on the mound,” Jordan said. “He’s getting better and better each start. He’s won his last four decisions. He put them down. They didn’t have too many rallies. We’re proud of him. And we all filled our roles.”
— Bob Grotz (@BobGrotz) June 2, 2016
The Raiders (13-10) started the season 0-5. Then they were 3-8. Now they’re on a roll Jordan calls “mind boggling.
“To come back and win a district title, we think for the first time ever, it’s kind of surreal,” Jordan said. “They had a really good ballclub there.”
Hoysgaard threw 116 pitches, striking out seven and walking eight. Each time he got into trouble, the Raiders made a play, although in the first inning baserunner Connor Case blew up a rally by interfering with the second baseman on a groundout.
In the second inning Hoysgaard walked two with two outs, bringing catcher Jack Deshan to the mound for the first of several conferences.
“He was just trying to calm me down, was telling me they weren’t really hitting the ball and just get it over the plate,” Hoysgaard said. “And it seemed to work out. We make it very close but we always get out of it. We have great defense, great offense. We’re just a good team right now so we’ll see if we can keep it going.”
In the third inning the Bears (17-5) had the leadoff man on for slugger Jon Searles, the biggest guy on the field. Third baseman Pat McDermott turned the first of two double plays, throwing to Schaefer at second, who relayed to Martin Connor to end the threat.
With runners at first and second in the sixth inning, McDermott scooped up a grounder, stepped on third and fired to first to get the Raiders out of the inning.
“We got good groundball pitching from Will,” McDermott said. “He was able to throw strikes. It was just kind of the right-spot, right-time kind of thing.”
And then there was the seventh inning.
Randy Mehl, who had the only hit for the Bears to that point, hit a smash at Austen, catching the one-armed pitcher without his glove on. No problem. Austen barehanded a throw to first for the out.
Connor Casey followed with a base hit and Searles grounded to second to make it Austen versus Nick Delucas. Austen barehanded the roller and
threw to first for the district title.
“They were fake bunting and stuff,” Austen said. “but when the ball comes to me, I just think of it as an easy out. I’ve just got to make the play. This feels amazing. Starting out 0-5, when no one had any belief in us to now. … It’s awesome to turn it around and especially to win a district championship and beat Holy Ghost Prep in the (semis).”
Jordan expected Austen to factor heavily in the win. His will and the will of his teammates are one and the same.
“Andrew has been so great all year with the bat and the glove and his pitching,” Jordan said. “He’s done it all for us. I think it’s a great story of spirit.”
Irwin called the loss “a shame, especially for the senior class” at Upper Moreland. But then again…
“You know what?” Irwin said. “You don’t ever want to lose. But if you lose to someone who’s worked as hard as he has … that’s pretty impressive.”
No one said it better than Jill Smith, her son at her side.
“Inspirational,” Smith said. “That’s what it is. I was jumping up and down.”