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Marple Newtown’s Jordan, Balk enjoy trip down memory lane

NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Mark Jordan knew there would be days like this when he left Radnor to coach Central League baseball rival Marple Newtown.

Good days and bad days all wrapped up in one.

The past caught up to Jordan Wednesday when he saw Will Hoysgaard, Pat McDermott, Pat Lofton and Charlie Connolly, among other Raiders, pose for a photo with Jim Balk, the venerable assistant always at his side.

All of them played roles in a storybook season producing Radnor’s first District 1 baseball championship, its first victory in the state tournament and in front of an army of MLB scouts, a stunning upset of blue chip prospect Nolan Jones and Holy Ghost Prep.

Jordan revisited memory lane before, during and after the Tigers cruised to a 6-1 win over the Raiders.

“That feeling will never leave,” Jordan said. “We got a win today but I still care for those kids. I coached some of them for three years, saw them day in and day out and we went to the top of the mountain together. Those memories will never go away. It’s tough playing these kids. After the game I hugged them down the line. We wish them nothing but the best for 18 of the 20 games they play.”

Though this was Jordan’s second win of the season over the Raiders, it was only slightly less emotional for the almost 50-year-young man who almost has to stop himself from barking orders to his old guys.

Another couple weeks and the audience would have included the indomitable Andrew Austen, now a Charleston College student. Austen played a leading role in the Raiders’ dramatic run and in doing so, became a hero for a youth with limb deficiency. Jordan considers Austen and that team family.

Jordan joined the Tigers after they declined to renew the contract of Steve Smith, who replaced Jordan after the 2010 season. Smith was let go in spite of leading the Tigers to the state semifinals.

Chris Gicking is the athletic director at Marple. He coached baseball with Jordan at Radnor.

Did we mention Jordan and Marple take on Smith and Penncrest Thursday?

“This is a weird year,” Jordan said.

On this day the drama didn’t influence the Tigers (9-5, 8-4), who are chasing Springfield and Garnet Valley for the Central League lead.

Pitcher Scott Hahn brought his reliable A game, scattering six hits and striking out seven without allowing an earned run.

The Tigers put two runs on losing pitcher Evan Moore in the first inning and four more on the board in the fifth inning. Alden Mathes (1-for-2), Cameron Mathes (2-for-2) and Luke Zimmerman (1-for-3) all drove in runs.

“All credit to Scott,” Jordan said. “Scott’s 5-0. He takes the ball every week and he’s been great. He’s saved us because our bats have not been where we thought they would be. Without Scott, I don’t know where we’d be. We wouldn’t be 9-5 and still hoping to get a home playoff game in the districts.”

Hahn said he had his curveball working. The curve and defense handcuffed the Raiders each time they seemed to be in position to strike, the exception when they scored their run in the sixth inning.

“We usually don’t lose two in a row and we lost Monday so we came back with a little fire in our butts,” Hahn said. “We know coach still loves those guys. It’s not like he left because he didn’t like them. But clearly he wants to beat them, too. He’s just out here having fun.”

Said Tigers catcher Luke Cantwell, “Coach Balk has great ties to Radnor, too. It’s baseball but it’s more than baseball sometimes.”

The Raiders still have time to make a run under coach Joe Kerrigan. They still play solid defense. They still bring that in-game chatter that took them to the states and beyond. And they still have 2016.

“It’s always good to relive those memories and talk about them,” said Hoysgaard, who ripped a double. “We started 0-5 last year and were able to pull it together. And then go as far as we could, that was special.”

In other Central League action:

Garnet Valley 10, Upper Darby 0 >> Liam Bendo, Matt Lupoli and Alex Fisher highlighted the Jaguars’ five-inning rout with a pair of RBIs, with Bendo crossing home three times. Dom Bertone scored twice.

Chris Anderson collected two of the Royals’ four hits.

Springfield 11, Penncrest 1 >> Max King gave the Lions an early 1-0 lead with a first-inning RBI single, but it was all Cougars, all the time after that. Andrew Todaro blasted a three-run home run, while Cameron Thorpe, Brandon DiChiacchio and Greg Tamaccio also drove in runs.

Mike Smith scattered four hits and struck out five to pick up the win on the bump.

Haverford 10, Lower Merion 7 >> Tre Blair and Drew Fowler combined for six RBIs, five hits and five runs scored to help the Fords hold off the Aces. Blair had three hits, three RBIs and three runs scored. Fowler knocked in three and added two hits and two runs scored.

In the Catholic League:

Archbishop Carroll 8, Conwell-Egan 1 >> The visiting Patriots got a two-RBI single from Kevin Downs and took advantage of some shaky defense by the Eagles to put up seven runs in the sixth inning.

Conwell-Egan took an early lead that Cole Chesnet negated with a fourth-inning RBI triple, while James Kelly struck out five en route to the win.

Cardinal O’Hara 9, Roman Catholic 1 >> Liam Nihill allowed one run in five innings for his fourth league win. Jim White was 3-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. Brian Bromley added two hits, three runs and an RBI.


Top photo: Radnor players (L-R) Pat McDermott, Will Hoysgaard,  Pat Lofton and Charlie Connolly pose with  Marple Newtown’s Jim Balk, a former assistant coach for the Raiders.

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