POTTSTOWN >> They’re both in their first seasons as head coach of their respective prep-school programs.
But Aaron Kalb realized a more satisfactory result Saturday when his Blair Academy squad took on Bowen Borgeson’s Hill School unit. The Buccaneers got a better blend of hitting, defense and pitching as they handled the Blues, 12-5.
Blair (4-8) broke the game open by scoring three times in the third, then adding four-run outbursts in its next two at-bats. That complemented the pitching of starter Arlyn Lopez and reliever Jose Martinez, who combined to limit the Hill to seven hits and the bulk of its run production in the fifth inning.
“We’re putting it together well,” Kalb said following the rain-washed Mid-Atlantic Prep League contest at the Hill. “We’re coming off a good win (14-1 over St. Benedict’s), and the guys are putting the bats on the ball … great offense.”
The Hill, like its guests, was coming off a non-league victory — against Princeton Day School — in its previous outing. But the Blues couldn’t sustain that winning feel against Blair, falling 11 runs back before they got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth.
“That’s kind of been our MO the last couple games,” Borgeson said. “We don’t put runs on the board for four or five innings, then explode for six. Now we’ve got to get the idea of being consistent, playing a full seven innings.”
Lopez ended up a two-way leader for Blair on the mound and at the plate.
He gave the Bucs a solid five-inning pitching stint, with five strikeouts and three walks, before giving way to Martinez for the Blues’ last two at-bats. Lopez also was big with the bat, driving in six of Blair’s runs off two of his three hits; the big blow came in the fourth, when three Blair baserunners came around off his hit to right field.
“We’re getting into it a bit,” Kalb, who came to Blair off a stint as head coach of Oklahoma-Panhandle State University’s NAIA Division III program. “I coached at the college level for five years, so there’s a different way of preparing the players.
“We only had a week or two to get ready for the season,” he added, “So we picked up some ideas.”
Borgeson, who stepped up to lead the Hill program after Chris Drowne ended his five-year tenure, is working to get his youngish roster some seasoning.
“We have young guys … a large number of juniors and freshmen,” he said. “We’re trying to work out the kinks, being positive with the guys and putting them where they can be successful.”
One of the Blues’ positives against Blair was the pitching of Ethan Andresen.
Coming on to replace starter Charlie Hogan with two out in the fifth inning and Blair holding a nine-run lead, Andresen got the Hill out of the inning after yielding Lopez a two-run single up the middle. He was touched for the Bucs’ final run in the sixth but shut them down the rest of the way, aided by a 6-4-3 double play that helped close out the seventh.
“That was a nice relief effort by our first-baseman, a junior,” Borgeson said. “Our pitching is thin across the board … we lost one starter to injury early in the year.”
Hogan, to his credit, had five strikeouts on the day against three walks. But he was hurt by four Hill errors.
“Hogan gave us a good couple innings. But pitching is a priority, and we’re thin right now.”
Danny Monzo drove in two of the Blues’ runs in the fifth with his double to the right-center fence. That came after Michael Eze plated the Hill’s ice-breaking run with a single to right.
The Blues got one more in the sixth, Monzo’s sacrifice fly to right enabling Andresen (single, stolen base) to score from third.
The output paled in comparison to Blair’s 13-hit offense, which featured two-hit efforts by leadoff hitter Michael Whalen, Kyle Walker (triple) and Matt Tung (three runs scored). The Bucs were bolstered by doubles from Walker, Cameron Grant and Tung.
NOTES >> The Hill defense turned two double plays on the afternoon, to one by Blair. The Blues’ first was recorded in the second, Eze spearing a line drive by Grant and forcing David Conta out at second base.