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Helverson, Perkiomen Valley win pitchers’ duel against Spring-Ford

ROYERSFORD >> The last thing suddenly-skidding Spring-Ford wanted was to look out and see a Division I prospect dealing from the mound.

Unfortunately for the Rams, that’s just what they ran into Thursday.

West Virginia commit Brock Helverson spun a complete-game three-hitter during Perkiomen Valley’s 2-0 win over Spring-Ford inside Ram Stadium.

The win, which mirrored the result of their Pioneer Athletic Conference semifinal last season, improves Perkiomen Valley to 4-1 in the PAC (4-2 overall). Spring-Ford drops its fourth straight, moving to 5-2 in the conference (5-4 overall).

“This is a big jump for us,” Helverson said afterward. “We’ve been struggling defensively – that killed us last game (3-2 loss against Upper Merion Monday). Our energy really picked up today.”

The junior right-hander scattered seven strikeouts and a pair of walks across seven full innings of work. He never let a runner reach third base. Relying on his fastball, then pulling the string with a changeup, Helverson kept the Rams off-balance on his way to finishing just three batters above the minimum. He benefitted from a double play in the field as well as catcher Matt Szczesny gunning down a runner attempting to steal second.

“He struggled with his changeup last time out,” said PV head coach Ryan Hinkle, “and we talked about it. He tweaked it a little bit to get more dip and dive on it. That helped him induce a lot of groundball outs. He did a great job mixing up that fastball-changeup combo.”

Perkiomen Valley manufactured two unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to hand Spring-Ford starter Jake Kelchner the tough-luck loss. The St. John’s commit was similarly dominant to his counterpart, scattering just two hits and a pair of walks with nine strikeouts.

On an afternoon where the Spring-Ford offense couldn’t get anything going, Kelchner kept the Rams afloat.

“He’s a bulldog,” said Spring-Ford head coach Jamie Scheck. “He threw seven innings and stayed under the pitch count in a time that we really needed him. I talked to him before the game and he knew that we were short behind him.

“He wanted the ball and gave us a chance.”

Kelchner also brought a spark batting out of the lead-off spot where he finished 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Conor Larkin had Spring-Ford’s only other hit — a lead-off single to left field in the fourth inning.

Perkiomen Valley did virtually all of its offensive damage in the top of the fourth inning. Szczesny broke Kelchner’s no-hit effort with a single back up the middle followed by a walk by Joe Gorla. On the next at-bat, Colin Buckwalter rolled a grounder to third, where the SF defense missed the tag on Szczesny then fired it over the first baseman’s head. Szczesny came around to score on the play while Gorla then scored on Helverson’s squeeze bunt on the ensuing at-bat.

“We only got two hits off (Kelchner), but we took advantage, said Hinkle. “The one inning where we were able to get guys on, we found ways to push them across.

“This early, it’s about strides. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”

NOTES >> Shortstop Ryne Moore and third baseman Quinn McKenna were each healthy scratches, according to Scheck. “Our bats are struggling a little bit right now,” he said. “We’re gonna use this time as a little break away from the game, hopefully that time off will do our guys some good. For us to have any success in the PAC, Ryne and Quinn have to be a part of it. Today just wasn’t a good day for them to try and break out of it.”

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