FALLS TWP. – In a District 1 Class 6A semifinal, both teams are moving on to states. That is the case for both Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rivals Pennsbury and Neshaminy.
The fourth-seeded Falcons (17-6) advance to face the winner of No. 6 seed North Penn and No. 7 Perkiomen Valley while the eighth-seeded Skins face the loser in that matchup.
If visiting Neshaminy (17-5) never has to face Pennsbury senior righthander Billy Bethel again, the Skins will be pleased. In 21 innings pitched in the span of three games including today’s District 1 semifinal, Bethel has limited Neshaminy to a single run.
And believe it or not, Pennsbury actually lost the first matchup this season.
That was not the case today. The Falcons got all the runs they needed to advance to the D-1 final on a sac-fly by junior first baseman Kyle Dear that scored senior Dave Murphy in the bottom of the second inning. For good measure, Dear added an RBI double in the fourth that scored senior Ryan McCarty in an eventual 2-0 victory, Pennsbury’s second win over the Skins in 22 days.
“I’m just looking to do a job,” explained Dear. “There’s less than two outs and a runner on third base so I’m just trying to get that run in.
“(Neshaminy starter Zach Boop) left me a curve-ball that just didn’t break. He left it up over the plate and I got my hands inside of it.”
In his third complete-game performance this season against the Skins, Bethel allowed only three hits – all singles – while striking out three and walking none. Two of those singles were erased on the basepaths with Jake Jones following Ben Raab’s one-out single in the second inning with a double play ball and Cory Joyce nailed at second base trying to stretch a single into a double in the third inning.
Bethel threw just 66 pitches and faced just 23 batters in the matchup.
“I was just trying to keep the pitch count low and throwing strikes,” said Bethel. “I know my fielders can do everything; they’ve been working hard all year and offseason so I’m just trying to get ahead.”
In addition to a 4-6-3 double-play to end the second frame, sophomore R.J. Huth continued to show why he’s been a late-season defensive replacement for Pennsbury in the outfield, snaring a sinking liner laced to left field by Neshaminy senior Eddie Parry to lead off the second inning.
Falcons leftfielder Tyrone Hodges junior was the one who cut Joyce down in the third trying to stretch that single into a double and it was Huth once again racing over into centerfield catching a ball lined to the outfield by Skins leadoff hitter Anthony Rapposelli to lead off the fourth inning.
Huth also caught a foul ball flied to right field by Jones for the second out in the fifth inning and Bethel helped himself, catching a two-out line drive back to the mound by Raab to end the game in about 90 minutes time.
Neshaminy senior Zach Boop suffered the loss, exiting the game exactly one pitch into the fifth batter in the fourth inning. There is no official status on the Lehigh University-bound righthander, though word was that he tweaked an elbow in his outing.
Classmate Zach Tredway relieved Boop and shut Pennsbury out the rest of the way, surrendering a lone hit and a walk while striking out one batter.
Both the Falcons and the Skins must await the results of the other semifinal between North Penn and Perkiomen Valley as that game was postponed due to afternoon rains that pelted the Lansdale area.
Ironically, Dear sat the first part of Pennsbury’s dramatic walkoff win over 12th-seeded Downingtown East due to some recent struggles at the plate.
“We were just looking to be aggressive early in the count,” said Dear. “Boop is a well-know, good pitcher in this area and you have to attack him early.
“Getting a run in the second inning was huge; it knocked him off his game a little bit.
“You could see it later in the game; he just didn’t have it anymore.”
Just like the last game when senior Ryan McCarty stepped up with a pair of singles including a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to help the Falcons to a 5-4 victory over the Cougars, Pennsbury had another role player – in this case, Dear – step up.
True to the Falcons’ cause, Dear pointed out the contributions of his teammates.
“Everyone contributed – R.J. had a great game in the field, Billy threw only 66 pitches and everyone showed up on defense,” said Dear. “It was just a great team effort today.”
This is Pennsbury’s first appearance in the District 1 final under current head coach Joe Pesci, who, two years ago, led the Falcons to their first SOL National League title in 19 years and first PIAA Tournament berth in 22 years. Pennsbury captured the league crown again this season with a 10-2 record.
The District 1-6A championship is set for 4 p.m. Thursday at Immaculata University, near Exton, Pa.
NOTES: Council Rock North and Pennridge competed in last year’s D-1 final with the Rams emerging a 3-1 victor.
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury infielder Ryan McCarty, left, has Neshaminy shortstop Cory Joyce dead as a duck at second base in 2-0 Falcons’ win over the Skins that puts Pennsbury in the District 1-6A Championship. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
District 1 Class 6A Baseball Semifinal
Pennsbury 2, Neshaminy 0
(May 30 at Pennsbury)
NESHAMINY (17-5) 000 000 0 – 0 3 0
PENNSBURY (17-6) 010 100 0 – 2 4 1
WP — Billy Bethel 7IP, 0R, 3H, 0BB, 3SO; LP — Zach Boop 3.2IP, 2R, 3H, 3BB, 1SO.
DOUBLES: N — none; P — Kyle Dear.
RBI: N — none; P — Dear 2.
RUNS: N — none; P — Dave Murphy, Ryan McCarty.