WORCESTER >> Thursday’s game between Lansdale Catholic and Methacton featured two teams in very different positions as the regular season winds down.
The Crusaders are trying to finish strong after a disappointing season in which they will not make the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs.
The Warriors are in good position to make the District 1-6A playoffs — maybe even get a first-round bye — and wanted to get all of their upperclassmen playing time on Senior Day Thursday.
After seven innings, both teams found something to be happy about. Methacton’s seniors played all seven innings and Lansdale Catholic came away with a 6-4 win at Methacton High School.
Paul McDonald threw a complete game for LC. He surrendered four runs — all unearned — on four hits to go along with six strikeouts and no walks.
“That’s a great day from a senior pitcher,” LC coach Nick Villucci said of McDonald. “That’s Pat McDonald for you. He’s an awesome kid, great teammate. I’m happy for him.”
The most trouble he got into came in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed back-to-back two-out doubles to Shamus Shields and Patrick O’Neill that resulted in three runs and cut the Crusaders lead from 6-1 to 6-4. Methacton’s Nick Wheeler followed with what looked like a third double, but LC center fielder Tyler Owen laid out to make the catch and end the inning.
“Tyler Owen — a freshman — that’s a phenomenal, big-time play,” Villucci said. “He’s going to be something special.”
McDonald was perfect over the final two innings to close out the game.
LC took control of the game in the top of the fourth inning. Already leading 2-1, the visitors pushed across four more runs on four hits and an error to make it 6-1.
Ryan McSorely, Shane McCarthy and Drew Chiappa started the inning with three straight singles — McSorely scoring on Chiappa’s. After a strikeout, Mike Ottomano plated two runs with another single. Owen knocked in the fourth run on a sacrifice fly.
“We had a lot of good swings,” junior Bryce Cunningham said of the fourth inning.
“Ottomano’s single was huge getting two runs in. He’s usually a pitcher for us who could really hit, but he hasn’t really gotten the opportunity to hit a lot this year. When he did, obviously he came through.”
“Our offense has been struggling all year to produce runs,” Villucci said. “This was a big game for us to go out there and put six runs up and move guys around. That’s key. That’s what we’ve been looking for all year.”
Cunningham knocked in the Crusaders first run in top of the first inning, doubling to score Owen. Cunningham finished 3-for-3 with an RBI and stolen base.
“I was seeing off-speed,” he said. “I was trying to wait and see the ball in my zone — I like it a little inside. I got that today on a few occasions. I like to be patient and take what they’re giving me.”
LC’s second run crossed the plate when McSorley got to second on a two-base error, stole third and scored on a wild pitch in the second inning.
“The one inning killed us,” Methacton coach Paul Spiewak said. “We had a little bit of trouble early defensively just doing routine things. We had opportunities with them on the bases — whether it be pick-offs or just hitting the cutoff man — we made a couple mistakes that ended up giving them a big inning. Often times in a game like this it’s going to be the big inning that’s going to win or lose the game.”
Jason Eckman knocked in Methacton’s first run in the bottom of the second. He singled home Wheeler, who reached on an error.
Justin Hehn started on the mound for Methacton and took the loss. He allowed two runs — one earned — over three innings. The struck out four batters, walked none and allowed three hits.
“Our plan today was to let our seven seniors get an opportunity to play for all the hard work and effort that they put in for all these years,” Spiewak said. “This was their opportunity to get seven innings in. For Justin who’s a senior to be able to come out and throw the first three innings. He’s coming back from an arm injury and hasn’t thrown that much.
“Obviously you always want to compete and you always want to win, but priority number one was to recognize our seniors and give them an opportunity to play one last time together as all seven of them. In that sense, we accomplished our goals.”
Methacton entered this week ranked 18 in the unofficial District 1-6A power rankings. The team played its final league game Wednesday — a win over Perk Valley. The top 20 teams make the playoffs.
“We’re hoping to be able to get into the district playoffs,” Spiewak said. “The other leagues still have a whole week of league games left. So depending on how it plays out, we could be in the mix for a home game or a bye so we’re pretty excited about that.”
Lansdale Catholic is 2-9 and near the bottom of the Catholic League standings. But that’s not stopping them from playing hard in their final games of the season. The team still faces Pottstown, Conwell-Egan and William Tennent.
“Credit to our kids,” Villucci said. “Even though our playoff hopes are gone, they’re battling and they’re worried about winning baseball games. That’s important.”
“We’re just a fun group of guys,” Cunningham added. “We’ve been going to school together for these past four years. Large senior class this year. It’s just been a fun year. If we were at the top of the PCL or having the year that we’re having, we’d be having fun either way. Our care for each other and having fun together on and off the field — it’s just never not fun coming to the ballpark with these guys.”
Lansdale Catholic 6, Methacton 4
Lansdale Catholic 110 400 0 — 6
Methacton 010 030 0 — 4
TOP PHOTO: Lansdale Catholic’s Ryan McSorley steals third as Methacton third baseman Jake Tyson fields the ball during their game on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)
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