UPPER CHICHESTER >> Zach Halliday hasn’t had many chances at the plate this year, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching him grind out good at-bats Tuesday.
The Interboro senior has missed a handful of games this spring, and when he’s around, coach Anthony DiNicola counts on Halliday to give him innings from the mound. Halliday is one of the team’s best pitchers.
Halliday, though, was slotted in the No. 9 spot in the lineup for the Bucs in the all-important rubber match with Chichester. He began the day as the designated player, and finished it on the hill.
At the dish, Halliday was clutch. He had four tremendous at-bats resulting in three walks. He scored three times and belted a key two-run double in the seventh inning that gave Interboro a six-run cushion. It turned out the Bucs needed those two insurance runs against Chichester, which rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh.
But it was Halliday who closed the door on Chi’s bid to claim the Del Val crown. Halliday got Jason Riberio to fly out for the third out as Interboro held on for an 11-10 victory.
With two games remaining, Interboro (13-2 overall, 9-1 league) is in the driver’s seat to repeat as Del Val League champions.
Halliday replaced Mike Ventura, who pitched 4 1/3 solid innings of relief before running out of gas in the seventh. While Halliday allowed three hits, including an RBI double by Marcus Williams and a bases-clearing triple by Nick Jones, he entered with the with the bases loaded and nobody out, then struck out two of the first three hitters he faced
“There were some jitters in there, knowing that the game is for the Del Val title. Chi’s a great baseball team,” Halliday said. “I came back and knew I had to focus. Thanks to Joey Pitts for the centerfield catch, that really helped me out. I had my team behind me — and that’s the biggest thing that helped me finish that seventh inning.”
Halliday’s job was to seal the win. That’s never easy, especially when your biggest rival is mounting a comeback and sole possession of first place is on the line. But Halliday, despite giving up three hits, kept his cool. In that spot, there was no one better to win the game for Interboro than Halliday.
“Coming in mid-inning, I know I have to locate my pitches better,” Halliday said. “I can’t just come in and throw pitches, I have to locate and really think where I want to go (with the pitch). Coming into an inning with runners on base, if I don’t locate, they’re going to drive them out.”
On the other side, Halliday gave the best ABs of the game. He saw a total of 24 pitches in his first three plate appearances, resulting in three bases on
balls. Ironically enough, in his fourth trip to the dish, Halliday wasted no time. He jumped on a first-pitch fastball and drove it to left field, scoring Ventura and Jared Dellipriscoli. Ventura’s flare to shallow left field brought home Pitts with the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, as Interboro stormed back from a pair of four-run deficits to grab a 6-5 lead.
“Both teams played the whole time. It was almost like hoops, it was a game of runs,” DiNicola said. “They had four runs early and then we answered with a couple. It was back and forth. We were able to build that big lead, and we needed three outs, but Chi put together a big rally there.”
The Eagles’ ability to fight back — and nearly complete an improbable comeback — wasn’t lost on Chi coach Dan Singley, who praised his players’ resilience.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Singley said. “When you’re down six runs in any game, I don’t care what level you’re playing at, it’s a championship game. You have the opportunity to win and you have a good hitter at the plate, and all we needed was two more guys to score and we would’ve won the game.
“I tip my cap to Interboro. They got it done and played a heck of a game. We almost got it done, too. My kids wanted a part of the title, but we’re still in this and we’re getting better. We have a young team here, and we still want to take it to the next level.”
Both starters didn’t last very long. Chi plated four unearned runs off Bucs ace Brandon Welden in the first inning. He gave up five runs — one earned — on three hits while striking out three before he was lifted with two outs in the second inning.
Hunter Killinen toed the slab to start the day for Chi. The lefty needed 104 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings. Aaron Smith relieved Killinen and pitched the rest of the way.
Dom Scrivano was 2-for-4 with a three-run double and four RBIs for Interboro. Pitts scored two runs and Shawn Flynn chipped in with two hits, an RBI and two runs scored.
All nine starters had at least one hit for the Eagles. Dylan Cordingly went 2-for-4 with a double and leadoff batter Larry Jackson singled and scored two runs.
In other Del Val League action:
Academy Park 19, Penn Wood 1 >> Taylor Moors pitched a four-inning complete game with four Ks, singled twice and doubled to lead the Knights (7-5, 7-4), who won their third in a row. Zach Cleary collected two hits, including a double, and had four RBIs. Robert Long added two hits, three RBIs and three runs scored.
Chester 8, Glen Mills 2 >> Christopher Gonzalez pitched a complete game as the Clippers handled the Battlin’ Bulls.
In the Inter-Ac League:
Haverford School 5, Germantown Academy 2 >> Joe Bonini delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to put the Fords in front. Tyler Dunbar tossed five strong innings for the No. 1 team in Delco, and Zak Summy recorded the final six outs for the save. Dave Hogarth, Tommy Toal and Bryan Hyland each contributed two hits to help the Fords to the comeback victory.
SCHA 6, Episcopal Academy 0 >> The Churchmen were no-hit by SCHA’s Aidan Frye, who struck out five and allowed two walks.
In the Bicentennial League:
Jenkintown 13, Christian Academy 2 >> Joel Griffith provided the lone highlight for the Crusaders (1-11, 1-10) with a steal of home in the second inning.
Top photo: Interboro’s Zach Halliday slides into second base as Chichester second baseman Joe Renzi readies for the catch. Halliday was on base four times, with three walks and a two-run double, and got the save as Interboro earned an 11-10 victory to take a commanding lead in the Del Val League.