FALLS TWP. – In a big game, sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference between a win and a loss.
In a duel for the right to claim first place in the Suburban One National League (SONL) all to itself, Neshaminy’s number nine hitter Owen Foraker, slapped a leadoff single between first and second base, then stole second before leadoff hitter Anthony Raposelli pushed him to third with an infield single up the middle in the top of the sixth inning.
On third base with no outs, Foraker had a better chance to score than any other runner that went before – or after – him in the contest. So it was no coincidence that he would be the only one to cross the plate as the visiting Skins nipped the Falcons 1-0 in a SONL pitchers’ duel Tuesday afternoon (April 18) at Pennsbury.
With Foraker on third, No. 2 batter Brian Nicolas jumped on a first-pitch, fastball served up by Falcons starter Billy Bethel and nearly sent it sailing to the left of the 310-foot marker in right field for a two-run homer. The physics of a baseball swirling around in a stiff April wind pushed the ball to the right side of the sign, however.
“I’m not gonna lie; I wanted it to stay fair pretty bad but it’s alright,” said Nicolas. “I came back, one or two pitches later and got the job done so I was happy with it.”
Nicolas swung and missed at the next pitch, fouled another one off then sent a long fly ball to center field that plated Foraker with the winning run. The stolen base by Foraker proved pivotal to the win.
“That was huge,” said Nicolas. “If he didn’t steal, we probably wouldn’t have gotten that run in so that was big.”
As things turned out, No. 3 hitter Cory Joyce crushed a sinking liner to center field that was caught by Vaughn Ward, who very nearly doubled up Rapposelli at first base. Parry hit another single up the middle but DH Evan Matthews ended the rally with a grounder to third base.
The Falcons’ turn came in the bottom of the frame. Ward drew a leadoff walk then reached second on a pass ball. When Bethel followed with a single to right field, putting runners at the corners with one out, it gave Pennsbury its best chance to score.
Neshaminy starter Zach Boop had his own agenda, however. The righthander committed to Lehigh already recorded the first out when he sent Falcons leadoff hitter Justin Massielo down swinging. Boop got red-hot Ryan McCarty to foul out to the first base side on a full count then got DH Dave Murphy to ground out to second base to end the inning with no harm done.
“He is lights out when he gets out there,” said Skins head coach Dan Toner. “He is the real deal when he pitches and he’s going to battle all the time.
“That’s exactly what you need from your ace; we never get nervous with him in there.”
Boop was in control from start to finish, scattering three singles while walking just two batters and striking out six.
“I was just trying to pound the zone,” said Boop. “I struggled getting ahead early (in the count) and my off-speed just wasn’t there today.
“But I stayed confident, just tried to get ground balls and fly balls. The guys are phenomenal behind me.”
For his part, Bethel was nearly as good, limiting Neshaminy to a lone single until the sixth inning when the Skins strung three hits together to get the run.
“It’s disappointing. Billy pitched a great game,” stated Pennsbury head coach Joe Pesci. “You only give up four hits and one run, you should win the high school game.
“We did a good job with our approach today; some guys were a little off. He (Boop) is a good pitcher but something we definitely need to improve upon is coming up clutch in certain key situations when you have guys at second and third.
“But that’s high school baseball.
“You have seven hits in a game like that, it’s disappointing that we can’t come away with the win.
“But we get to see them again in a couple weeks.”
Foraker and Parry were the only multiple hitters in the game, each with a pair of singles. Parry recorded the first hit for the Skins when he led off the second inning with a single up the middle. But he was picked off first base by Falcons catcher Josh Tesarck.
Right then, you just knew this game was going to be a knockdown.
And it was.
TOP PHOTO: Neshaminy outfielder Owen Foraker, left, slides home safely with the game’s only run in win at Pennsbury Tuesday afternoon on the Falcons’ home field. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Neshaminy 1, Pennsbury 0
(April 18 at Pennsbury)
NESHAMINY (7-1) 000 001 0 – 1 4 1
PENNSBURY (6-3) 000 000 0 – 0 3 4
WP — Zach Boop (N) 7IP, 0R, 3H, 2BB, 6SO.
LP — Billy Bethel (P) 7IP, 1R, 4H, 0BB, 3SO.
MULTIPLE HITS: N — Eddie Parry 2-for-3, Owen Foraker 2-for-2; P — none.
RBI: N — Brian Nicolas; P — none.
RUNS: N — Foraker; P — none.