WESTTOWN >> Under gloomy skies the District 1 Class 5A playoffs got underway at West Chester Rustin as the eighth-seeded Golden Knights hosted No. 9 Bishop Shanahan.
Things would get gloomier in a hurry for Shanahan as Austin O’Dell allowed five Rustin runs on four walks, two hit batters and two errors in a nightmarish first inning, and the Eagles could never recover as they fell to ace pitcher Chris McMahon and the Golden Knights, 5-3. Rustin will play in the second round Wednesday against the winner of the Interboro vs. Upper Merion game, which, like most baseball outside of Westtown Monday, was rained out.
Being down 5-1 to McMahon after one inning and hoping to come back is a little like trying to eat soup with a fork. The Rustin (13-7) ace allowed just three hits, struck out seven and walked just one Eagle (12-8) in his six and one third innings of work before he gave way to Ben Watson in the seventh inning due to the 100 pitch count limit.
“It just was not Austin’s day today,” said Bishop Shanahan coach Brian Boyko. “He just did not have it and on this stage with it being his first district game and all the scouts here for McMahon it was tough on him. But the kid battled and almost got through it. He has a lot of character and he is a real good pitcher. We had our chances today against McMahon but he kept his composure and give him credit for getting through it.”
The Eagles actually struck first as McMahon plunked Nick O’Day with the first pitch of the game. O’Day then stole second and came home when Kevin Dodds lined an RBI single to right field to give Shanahan a surprising 1-0 edge.
But, Rustin actually put the game away with the five-run burst in the bottom half of the inning. O’Dell walked the first two batters he faced and then loaded the bases when he hit Evan Dumont with a pitch. With Nick Mariono up, O’Dell threw a wild pitch, bringing in the runner from third. Jack Brosnan hit a chopper to third base but the throw home sailed to the backstop and Rustin scored two more runs. After Dylan DeMarco was hit with a pitch, the second of the inning, Peter Fox walked with the bases loaded to make it a 4-1 game. Ben Watson singled in a run and it was 5-1 Rustin after just one frame and O’Dell was gone in favor of Matt Thomas.
“It was definitely good to get those runs back right away,” McMahon said. “The whole bench was locked in and real loud. Today, it was a whole team effort. If we nmake an error I try to pick the guys up and if I make a mistake, they pick me up. I kind of put my curveball in my pocket today and I used a cutter and fastball and always tried to get ahead of the hitters and go right after them.”
The Eagles, who were no-hit 14 days ago by McMahon, fared a little better this time with the help of three Golden Knights errors. Shanahan had men on base in all but the sixth inning against McMahon, but the Rustin ace remained in control.
“The thing with Chris is that he never gives in,” West Chester Rustin coach Brad Harkins said. “He has such composure and determination and the kids have seen him give up a run before and they know it is a team. The have their job to do and he has his job to do and I really liked our guys approach in that first inning. We had some good at bats and showed a lot of energy.”
Maybe the best Shanahan threat came in the top of the fifth inning. McMahon got the first two outs of the inning, striking out the dangerous O’Day and getting Matt Samson on a pop out to short. But P.J. Heintz lined a fastball to left center for a double. and then Dodds drew a walk to put two men on with two out. Up came Dan DiBeneditto, who hit a screamer to center that looked like it may drop. But Ben Watson got a great jump on the ball and ran the liner down and Shanahan was still down 5-1, although Thomas gave the Eagles a chance to come back with six great relief innings.
After McMahon left with one out and one on in the seventh, Watson came in to pitch and got in trouble. O’Day scored on a wild pitch to make it a 5-2 game and then Samson lined an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. Heintz and Dodds walked and the Eagles made it a 5-3 game on an RBI groundout by DiBeneditto. But, Watson ended the threat and the Eagles’ season by getting Anthony Squillante to ground out and Rustin moved on to Wednesday’s second round.
“It would be an incredible feeling to win a district title and get into the state playoffs,” McMahon said. “It has never been done in school history and I was lucky enough to be on the team as a sophomore that won the first round game and lost in the second round. We hope that does not happen this time.”
West Chester Rustin 5, Bishop Shanahan 3
BISHOP SHANAHAN ab r h bi W.C. RUSTIN ab r h bi
O’Day cf 3 2 0 0 McMahon p 3 1 0 0
Samson rf 4 1 1 0 Geisler ss 2 1 1 0
Heintz c 3 0 1 0 Dumont c 3 0 1 0
Dodds 1b 2 0 1 1 Harkins pr 0 1 0 0
DiBeneditto lf 4 0 0 1 Marioano rf 2 1 0 0
Squillante dh 4 0 0 0 Brosnan lf 3 1 0 0
O’Dell p 0 0 0 0 DeMarco 3b 2 0 0 0
Thomas p 0 0 0 0 Fox 1b 2 0 1 1
Ziegler 3b 3 0 1 0 Watson cf 3 0 1 1
Hurley ss 2 0 0 0 Giufree 2b 0 0 0 0
Angelo 2b 3 0 0 0 Shubert dh 3 0 0 0
Totals 28 3 4 2 Totals 25 5 4 2
Bishop Shanahan 100 000 2 – 3
W.C. Rustin 500 000 x – 5
2B — Heintz.
Bishop Shanahan IP R H BB SO
O’Dell, L 0 5 0 4 0
Thomas 6 0 4 1 3
McMahon, W 6.1 2 3 1 7
Watson .2 1 1 2 0