WHITEMARSH >> Souderton baseball coach Mike Childs sees non-league games as an opportunity.
Sure, coming off two rough losses, it would have been easy for him to keep his starters out for all seven innings on Wednesday. But the Indians coach uses non-league contests as a chance to get everyone in the game and to reward the guys who plug away behind the scenes.
So that’s what he did on the road at Plymouth Whitemarsh and it worked perfectly. Big Red’s reserves scored four runs as they led the Indians to a 6-2 win over the homestanding Colonials.
“Everybody got in today and that’s our goal in a nonleague game,” Childs said. “We tried some stuff today. It’s little things we want to try and we want to get guys in the game. Our starters came out after the third and our secondary guys stepped up, they scored most of the runs for us.”
In losses to CB South and Pennsbury, the Indians got behind early and had to play catchup the whole game. Wednesday, they flipped the script and scored the first run and established a 2-0 advantage before the starters came out.
Souderton still has a lot of things unsettled, like its No. 1 pitcher and even its optimal lineup. One thing the Indians have been counting on so far this season is the play of Luke Barnum. The junior outfielder has been one of the team’s best bats and as a result, has moved from leadoff to No. 3 in the order.
Barnum’s replacement at the top of the order, Jack Despain, belted a leadoff triple Wednesday, then came in to score when Barnum doubled him home.
“It was essential,” Barnum said. “We haven’t had the start to the season that we wanted, we weren’t doing the little things right. To come out here and do everything we needed to do, have no errors and we hit the ball well and pitched very well too, so to do all that I think is a huge confidence booster going into these huge games (next week) against Pennridge and North Penn.”
Being unable to put a complete game together is something Plymouth Whitemarsh knows about as well as the Indians. After struggling with pitching and a little bit on defense to start the season, now it’s the Colonial bats that are in a rut.
PW had six hits on Wednesday, and half of them came in the seventh inning. Coach Chris Manero said the team had guys that started off hot and have hit a wall the last few games.
“It seems like we’re always playing from behind,” Manero said. “We put that pressure on ourselves when we’re playing from behind and pitchers are able to control the game because they’re throwing with a lead and they’re throwing confident. “
Barnum singled in the third inning, then advanced on a passed ball and stole third before he scored on a comebacker that slipped through the pitcher’s legs for a 2-0 lead. Childs started taking guys out in the top of the fourth, then made wholesale changes in the bottom half of the frame.
One of them was pitcher Aaron Groller, a JV call-up who threw well in his first two varsity innings. A hard-throwing lefty, Groller allowed one hit and struck out one in his two innings.
The starters didn’t take the early end to their day as a punishment because they know that’s how the team does things.
“I think it boosts morale,” Barnum said. “We did our jobs and this was a nonleague game so Coach always says he wants to get all the players in. For them to pick it up even more than we did and score four more runs, I think that’s a great sign.”
Reserve outfielder Kyler Meiler went 2-for-2 after entering the game while Dan Knechel and Tim Robinson each had an RBI single in the four-run sixth inning. It was a good offensive frame for Souderton’s secondary guys, with four hits and two walks before PW reliever John Pecharo induced an inning-ending double play.
Souderton faces perennial Suburban One League Continental powers Pennridge and North Penn next week and Childs said he thinks it is the first time since he’s been coaching that the Indians had both games in the same week. Big Red felt like it wasn’t playing up to its expectations early in the season, so Wednesday’s win was that much more important.
“I played with almost this same team my freshman year when we played JV and we did really well,” Barnum said. “I think we have the potential again to do really well, we just had to tighten up our defense and I think we can turn the season around. We realized we can’t just coast through the season, varsity is a different game from JV and we all had to step it up more.”
PW travels to Pennsbury on Thursday, then has a league game against Upper Dublin next Tuesday before a layoff for the school’s senior class trip. Manero hopes the bats come around before then so the Colonials can hit the break feeling good.
“We preach for our guys to be aggressive,” Manero said. “It’s harder to dial it up than it is to dial it back. If we’re getting good pitches to hit early in the at-bat, that’s great that we’re being aggressive but we have to put better swings on the ball. If we’re hitting a lot of fly balls or rolling over and hitting a lot of ground balls, the approach is fine but the result is what’s killing us right now.”
Souderton 6, Plymouth Whitemarsh 2
SOUDERTON 101 004 0 – 6 10 0
PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 000 000 2 – 2 6 2
WP: David Gulibon. LP: Jacob Nunez. SO-BB: S – Thylar Summarrell 2-1, Aaron Groller 1-0, David Gulibon 2-0, Miles Minnick 0-0; PW – Jacob Nunez 2-2, Zach Chandler 4-2, John Pecharo 0-0
3B: Jack Despain (S). 2B: Luke Barnum (S), John Pecharo (PW), Stephen Longo (PW)