LANGHORNE MANOR – When Council Rock South senior Zach Mayer’s season ended on May 30 when the Golden Hawks were ousted from District 1 play by state qualifier Hatboro-Horsham, Northampton Senior American Legion coach Brian Collins told Mayer to shut it down for a week before coming out to play summer ball.
The week off proved fruitful. The coach took Mayer off the shelf Tuesday night at Cairn University in a Lower Bucks American Legion League (LBALL) contest against Yardley-Morrisville.
Mayer limited Y-M to just three hits in six innings in an 11-0 shutout win over the youthful Riversharks.
The lefthander went 8-4 during the high school season in at least 15 starts so a week off was in order in between varsity and Legion campaigns.
“He looked fresh tonight so I think it was a good move,” said Collins. “He’s fun to watch – he works quick, he throws strikes – he just has a great presence on the mound.
“I know anytime he has the ball, we’re going to be in the game.”
While Mayer saw plenty of action at South including D1-6A playoff battles with sister school CR North and Suburban One League rival Neshaminy, he says his pitching methods prevent him from wearing down.
“It’s a lot of starts but I keep my pitch count low – a lot lower than a lot of other pitchers,” said Mayer. “I let (the batters) put it in play, I don’t really worry about strikeouts and I let the defense work behind me.”
That’s exactly the strategy the Southpaw employed June 6 vs. Y-M. Mayer retired the side in order including the last three innings.
Defensively, the Bombers (3-2) played mistake-free in the field while the offense cranked out 12 hits including doubles by Shaun Stackhouse, Josh Kim and Joe Preciado.
Northampton got all the runs it needed to record its third win of the season in the second inning, stringing together four two-out hits including run-scoring singles by Pat Scheffey and C.J. Kilgariff and an RBI double by Stackhouse.
“It’s amazing pitching with a lead – you let the batters put it in play more often, you don’t have to worry about runners on base because you know there are people behind you hitting,” said Mayer. “The bats definitely helped us out today.”
Outfielder Jared Ennis, a rising junior at CR South, had a big day with the bat, reaching base in all three of his at-bats including a two-run single down the left field line in the third inning and a run-scoring single to right field in the fifth that pushed the score to 6-0.
Northampton sent five runs across the plate in the sixth, starting with Kim’s RBI double to right field and continuing with Preciado’s two-run double to left.
A single by second baseman Ryan Vetter and a walk to first baseman Kyle Fleming loaded the sacks, set the table or pinch-hitter Brandon Bumm. A ball tapped to third base by Bumm, gloved by Dalton Elmer and thrown home, was dropped behind the plate, allowing the last two runs to score and putting the Mercy Rule into effect.
“Northampton is always a tough team,” said Y-M head coach Mike Decembrino. “Some things got away from us and they jumped on it.
“They do that; they take advantage. They’re a good team.”
Coming off their second LBALL championship in three seasons and a 23-7 record in 2016, the Bombers look poised for a repeat of last season.
Northampton is manned with five college freshmen including Kilgariff (Philadelphia), Stackhouse (Cabrini) and Cody Cutler, fresh off a collegiate campaign where he helped Ohio State’s club team to a District VI championship and a third-place finish in the NCBA Division II World Series.
“It’s early so we have a lot of guys who are still learning how to play with each other and trying to figure things out,” said Collins. “We’re still trying to find our footing but I really like our talent.
“If we play the game the right way, we have a chance to be really good.”
In addition to Mayer, the Bombers have righthanders Joe Preciado – who is headed to Quinnipiac – and Kilgariff, who went 3-4 in 16 appearances at PhillyU this spring.
“If we can get some pitching on the back end and play good defense, we’re going to be tough,” said Collins. “I’m excited for the season.”
After beginning its 2017 campaign June 1 with a 5-0 loss to Newtown Post 440, Northampton crushed Bensalem 20-4 June 3 then split with Bristol Post 382 in a doubleheader that took place June 4 at Northampton Civic & Recreation Center.
In game one, Preciado tossed five innings of hitless baseball in a 4-3 triumph over the Blue Jays, whom the Bombers beat in the LBALL final last year. Collins says his team kicked the ball around, however, in game two, where Northampton suffered a 14-3 defeat.
“In that second game against Bristol, we were a little sloppy in the field and we extended some innings,” said Collins. “Bristol played a good game. We made some miscues and they took advantage and the game got away from us.”
Y-M starter Sam Spadea, a rising junior at Pennsbury, suffered the loss for the ‘sharks, now 2-1-1 in LBALL action, 2-3-1, overall. Spadea was charged with just six of those runs after working 4.2 innings on the hill.
“Sam is only 15 but we brought him up from Junior Legion because we think he can play at this level,” said Decembrino.
“We’re a really young team all the way around – pitching, hitting, everything.”
“They’re young but they’re eager and there’s some talent here.
“I’m not sure they know how good they can be.”
Spadea, Elmer and leftfielder Sean Fuller recorded the hits for the Riversharks.
Yardley-Morrisville opened its season May 27 at CU with an 11-4 win over Bristol. The ‘sharks also outpaced Newtown 6-5 on June 2 at home. They’ve suffered non-league losses to Hopewell Valley and Boyertown while battling Bensalem to a 3-3 tie, called on account of darkness, June 6 at CU.
NOTES: The Lower Buck League has adopted a 10-run Mercy Rule in light of the new limitations imposed on pitchers this season.
TOP PHOTO: Northampton Senior Legion shortstop C.J. Kilgariff, right, is picked off first base by Yardley-Morrisville infielder Sean Hochhausler (5) in Lower Bucks American Legion contest between the teams June 6 at Cairn University. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Northampton 11, Yardley-Morrisville 0
(June 6 at Cairn University)
NORTHAMPTON 032 015 X – 11 12 0
YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE 000 000 X – 0 3 1
WP: Zach Mayer 6IP, 0R, 3H, 0BB, 7SO, 0HB; LP: Sam Spadea 4.2IP, 6R, 7H, 2BB, 3SO, 2HB.
MULTIPLE HITS: N – Josh Kim 2-for-4, Ryan Vetter 2-for-4, Jared Ennis 2-for-2; YM – none.
DOUBLES: N – Shaun Stackhouse, Josh Kim, Joe Preciado; YM – none.
RBI: N – Stackhouse, Kim, Preciado 2, Ennis 3, Pat Scheffey, C.J. Kilgariff; YM – none.