WORCESTER >> Methacton didn’t need to do too much in the bottom of the third inning against Norristown Friday — just put the ball in play.
The Warriors took advantage of two errors, a walk, a hit batter and a catcher’s interference in a four-run inning that sparked an 8-3 Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division win over the Eagles at Robert Morris Childress Memorial Field at Methacton High School.
Trevor Rambo led off and reached on an error before stealing second. Perry Corda followed with a walk and — after a failed bunt attempt — Conor Smith battled back from an 0-2 count to hit an RBI double and break a 1-1 tie.
“I was not going to let that pitcher beat me,” Smith said. “I was going to do anything I could to get those runs across that were on base for my team.”
Corda scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1 and Demetrio Rodriguez reached on an error, plating Smith.
“The Smith at-bat and the Rodriguez at-bat really changed the game,” Methacton coach Paul Spiewak said. “We were just trying to put some pressure on them.”
“The approach at the plate is just to put the ball in play,” Smith added. “Strikeouts kill us because they don’t have the opportunity to make a mistake in the field. Any chance you have to put the ball in play. We had Demetrio, he went down with two strikes, too. He put the ball in play and got an RBI out of it.”
Mark Engelman singled home Rodriguez to extend the lead to four, 5-1.
Ben Christian reached on catcher’s interference and Tyler Whitton got hit, but Norristown turned a double play to stop the bleeding.
Smith led the way offensively for the Warriors (2-2). He went 3-for-3 with three RBI, two runs scored and two doubles.
Methacton’s used three pitchers — Josh Dubost, Rodriguez and Jordan Lukas — and they combined for 17 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
“Very happy to see that,” Spiewak said. “This is Josh’s first time out, so the plan of action was to be between 70 and 80 pitches and hopefully get four or five innings. I thought he did a really nice job keeping us in the game early.”
Dubost got the win, striking out nine and walking three over four innings. Rodriguez thew the next two innings and struck out five batters to two walks. Lukas was perfect in the seventh, striking out three.
“Obviously the strikeouts are great,” Spiewak added. “Our biggest goal is to minimize the walks. I think we did a pretty good job with that today.”
The Eagles (1-4) struggled offensively, especially with runners in scoring position. In the first inning they had a runner on second with no outs who didn’t score. In the third runners were stranded on second and third and in the sixth a runner was left on second.
Norristown’s three runs all came on Methacton mistakes. Their first run scored on a wide pick-off throw and the other two crossed the plate on wild pitches.
The Eagles went 1-19 last year. Sitting at 1-4 early in 2018, coach Jack Sturgeon sees some improvements.
“We’re seeing progress in certain ways,” the second-year coach said. “The offense is the thing that we really don’t have an answer to. We’re getting 10, 11 strikeouts a game, it’s just way too much. We’re stressing putting the ball in play, but right now it’s not computing.
“We’re struggling to gain an identity. Offensively we’ve struggled the last week giving up too many at-bats, make it easy on the other team. We always have that one inning defensively that we just give up too much. I thought we could have been in this game, take away that (third inning). Give them credit, they stayed tough. They’re always aggressive. Paul always is aggressive on the bases.”
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