RADNOR >> For Garnet Valley, the grind began in the fall.
The Jaguars were in the weight room at six in the morning. Their modus operandi was to work relentlessly in the months preceding the 2017 season.
“With all of the work that we put in,” senior shortstop Liam Bendo said, “this is what we imagined this season would turn into.”
Last spring, the Jags were upset in the opening round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. Pennridge, which went on to win the district title, edged the Jags by a run.
The bitter taste of an unexpected, first-round playoff defeat lit a fire under them. They wanted to get better.
“We’re confident in ourselves and feel like we can compete with anyone,” junior outfielder Mason Miller said. “We take it one game at time, and we don’t like to lose. We like to win.”
Actually, all Garnet Valley does is win.
Liam Bendo hammers an RBI double to left field. Garnet Valley takes a 2-1 lead over Radnor, top 3rd. pic.twitter.com/ivEFvgBi3T
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) April 20, 2017
Thursday afternoon at Radnor, the Jaguars extended their season-long undefeated streak to eight games with an 11-6 victory over the Raiders. Miller paced an 11-hit attack with two singles, a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Bendo went 2-for-4 with a double, sacrifice fly and three ribbies. Matt Burba shined out of the No. 8 spot in the order, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, two runs and three stolen bases. Cole Palis and Alex Fisher contributed two hits apiece.
Quick-working lefty Matt Lupoli pitched four innings for the win. He allowed two runs on a hit with seven strikeouts, and despite issuing five free passes, kept the Jags in the game.
“They’ve answered every question,” Jags coach Rudy Shiller said. “Every time they get down, you wonder, ‘OK, how are they going to respond to this?’ That first inning, we fell behind 1-0 and Matt didn’t have his best stuff. … They’re able to respond in a positive way. They pick each other up, and that’s the way it’s been all year.”
Radnor scored a run in the first inning thanks to three walks and three wild pitches. Lupoli didn’t have his best command, but he made big pitches when it was absolutely necessary. For instance, in the second inning, he worked around two walks and a hit batsman to strike out Sean Mullarkey and Will Hoysgaard in succession to retire the side. In the fourth, he once again recorded back-to-back punchouts of Mullarkey and Hoysgaard, this time leaving two runners stranded.
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) April 20, 2017
“What clicked for me was to do a little bit of less, to stay within myself and to stay controlled,” Lupoli said. “I do work fast and try to get into a rhythm, but if you don’t hit your spots it can kind of work against you. Up to this point in the season, working fast helps me stay sharp. I didn’t have my best stuff today, and you’re not going to have your best stuff every time. I just had to battle and my teammates backed me up. That’s why we’ve been so successful. Even when our best players aren’t playing well, other guys will step up.”
Garnet Valley (8-0, 7-0) knocked out Radnor (4-4, 3-4) starter Hoysgaard, also a lefty, in the fourth inning. Bendo belted a run-scoring double in the third and Miller drove in a pair with a two-bagger. The Jags were also able to work good at-bats against relievers Nick Scheri and Brad Henkin, who allowed a combined three runs in two innings of work.
With a perfect record, the Jags have a difficult road to hoe. Next week they face Harriton (4-3-1), Springfield (7-2) and Strath Haven (6-4). Lingering
on the horizon is a date with Marple Newtown (5-2).
“When you start 8-0, we figure that we’re going to see everyone’s ace. Everyone wants to play us,” said Bendo, a Saint Joseph’s signee. “We’re looking forward to that, though. We want to see the best.”
DeShan and George Hoysgaard both went 2-for-3 for the Raiders. Mullarkey had a single, an RBI and scored two runs. Will Hoysgaard added a double.
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Penncrest 2, Lower Merion 1 >> Sam Freedman hit a walkoff single in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Lions past the Aces. Christian Evans scored the winning run. Shane Breckenridge pitched five strong to start and Dylan Lomas tossed three scoreless in relief for the win.
Marple Newtown 5, Conestoga 2 >> Corey Woodcock’s safety squeeze gave the Tigers (5-2, 5-2) the lead in the bottom of the sixth. MN scored five unanswered runs.
Scott Hahn improved to 3-0 on the season with a complete game. Alden Mathes added two hits and a run scored.
Springfield 6, Ridley 1 >> Greg Tomaccio and Tom Quinn both went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in support of winning pitcher Mike Smith, who scattered three hits and struck out four over six innings. Ryan Tait had a single and an RBI for Ridley.
Haverford 3, Harriton 2 >> A throwing error by the catcher enabled Chris Trainor to trot home from third with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning as the Fords nipped the Rams. Drew Fowler walked four times and Pat Boyle and Shaun Jones contributed two hits apiece for Haverford.
Springfield 13, Upper Darby 0 >> Andrew Robinson pitched a five-inning shutout with three strikeouts. Will Carey crushed a home run and racked up five RBIs, while Brady Mutz (double) and Justin Malley (triple) collected two hits apiece for the Panthers.
In the Del Val League:
Glen Mills 11, Chester 6 >> Brandon Quinn struck out 10 in 4⅔ innings of work for the win. Joshua Romagna and Jahmil Brinson paced the Bulls bats with two hits apiece.
Chichester 6, Interboro 2 >> Matt Dwyer’s two-run triple and Marcus Williams’ two-run single fueled a four-run first inning for the Eagles (8-2, 7-1). Larry Jackson and Dylan Cordingly had two hits each. Hunter Killinen pitched a complete game.
Academy Park 7, Penn Wood 0 >> Taylor Moors pitched a one-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts for the Knights (4-3, 4-2). Chris Thomas was on base four times and Robert Long added two base knocks.
In the Inter-Ac League:
Haverford School 12, Germantown Academy 2 >> Bryan Hyland had a big day at the dish with two home runs and six RBIs for the Fords. Tyler Dunbar hurled a complete game.
In the Bicentennial League:
Plumstead Christian 12, Christian Academy 4 >> Jake Sitkowski doubled and knocked in two runs, and Joel Griffith added two RBIs for the Crusaders.
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