CHELTENHAM >> It’s fitting that Hatboro-Horsham clinched its outright Suburban One League American Conference championship with a 4-0 win over Cheltenham at Cheltenham High School Tuesday afternoon.
The Hatters haven’t allowed a single run in six straight games.
“Six shutouts in a row, I don’t know how to explain it,” Hatboro coach Peter Moore said. “I’m sitting here and I’m watching it and it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
“Our pitching is doing really well right now,” Hatters senior Colin Kennedy added. “Being one of the pitchers is also amazing. Six straight shutouts is somewhat unheard of. It’s a big thing for us. Pitching is taking us a long way. I really, really enjoy doing it.”
Kennedy looked like he was enjoying it against Cheltenham. He threw all seven innings and struck out 10 batters. He allowed three hits and had one walk.
Hatboro (14-4, 12-2) entered the game knowing they secured at least a share of the SOL American title with Quakertown, but when Kennedy struck out the final batter in the seventh inning, the team celebrated between the pitcher’s mound and home plate knowing the league crown was all theirs.
“We were pretty hungry for that, we didn’t want to share it with anybody,” Moore said. “Not that it’s not a good thing to split a title, but we wanted it for ourselves. Just feels a bit better knowing it’s all yours. This group was hungry from the get-go. When we sat down with them in the beginning of the year and had player meetings one-on-one, to a man they all had the goal of winning the league title.”
“Knowing that 2017 is going up on our banner and only our banner is big for us as a team,” Kennedy said. “It’s something we really wanted to go after and get.”
The champs found a way to manufacture some offense and take advantage of the Panthers mistakes to push four runs across.
Eric Jester worked a two-out walk in the second inning, reached third on Brian Edgington’s infield single and scored on a wild pitch.
Ryan Long led off the third by reaching on an error, got to second on an Eddie Schultz sacrifice bunt and scored on a Kennedy single. Shaun Thomas also scored in the third when Ryan O’Donnell hit into a fielder’s choice.
Drew Passerini scored in the sixth inning on a Jake Bianchini sacrifice fly.
This is the way the Hatters have won most of their games this year. They don’t have an overpowering offense but they find ways to score and rely on their pitching. That has helped them go from 2-4 to 14-4.
“Our mental toughness is there,” Kennedy said. “It’s absolutely above and beyond. We all have that toughness that we’re going to win this game no matter what the situation is. We lost those four games in that one week and we battled out of adversity and we came back. So we know what adversity is like and coach Moore says it all the time — sometimes you’re going to face adversity, you just have to learn how to overcome it. We overcome a lot of things, so I think as a team we just put things together and make things happen.”
Hatboro was No. 2 in the latest District 1 Class-6A power rankings released over the weekend. They should have a first-round bye before kicking off the postseason next week.
Cheltenham (3-15, 3-11) got a great effort from Jake Petrisko on the mound. He threw a complete game and allowed four runs on seven hits. He struck out one batter and walked three.
“I thought he did really well today,” Cheltenham coach Craig Stein said of his pitcher. “He’s been battling for me. Third-year, senior varsity player. He came out, pitched his heart out. He came to me in the last inning, only had nine pitches to give, and he said, ‘I’m going to finish this game.’ And he did.”
The Panthers first hit came with two outs in the third inning and they only had one runner reach scoring position in the entire game.
“Colin’s a good pitcher,” Stein said. “I’ve known Colin for a couple years, this is the first time we’ve actually faced him. He’s a real good pitcher. He threw strikes, pounded the zone. We took a little while to get the bats off our shoulders and finally we started swinging. He was good today.”
Hatboro-Horsham 4, Cheltenham 0
Hatboro-Horsham 012 001 0 — 4
Cheltenham 000 000 0 — 0
WP: Colin Kennedy 7 IP 10 K 1 BB 3 H 0 R
LP: Jake Petrisko 7 IP 1 K 3 BB 7 H 4 R