NETHER PROVIDENCE >> Luke Zimmerman couldn’t resist the opportunity at Saint Joseph’s University.
A Division I baseball program had recruited the Marple Newtown senior for his talents on the mound and in the batter’s box.
“I’m going in as a two-way player, so I’m going to hit and pitch,” Zimmerman said. “That, obviously, was very important. I like the coaches a lot, they’re good guys, and the kids I’m going in with … they’re all real nice kids. Looking forward to it.”
On April 9, though, Zimmerman is focused on leading Marple Newtown to its second consecutive District 1 Class 5A title. If he can be half as effective as he was Monday, the Tigers will be in pretty good shape.
Zimmerman pitched six innings of dominant baseball in a 5-0 Central League victory over Strath Haven. Showcasing a repertoire that included a fastball, cutter, changeup and curve, Zimmerman struck out 11 and allowed only four hits and one walk.
“This offseason I worked a lot on switching up my wind-up,” Zimmerman said. “Late during the year (last season), especially during playoffs, I was having a little bit of trouble throwing strikes. This outing and in my last outing, I threw a lot of strikes.”
On a dreary 40-degree day, the 6-0, 215-pound Zimmerman had no issues with his command. He threw every one of his 92 pitches with conviction and didn’t give the Panthers any chance to get comfortable in the box.
“He was throwing a really nice curveball,” Strath Haven catcher Brady Mutz said. “He was painting corners for strikes and really hitting his spots. We just have to keep working and getting better every day.”
This is strikeout No. 11 for Luke Zimmerman
— Matt Smith (@DTMattSmith) April 9, 2018
Zimmerman gave up a pair of singles in the first inning but was dominant the rest of the way. All-Delco shortstop Anthony Viggiano, who reached on an infield single, was thrown out by left fielder Andrew Cantwell while trying to go from first to third on a single by Mutz. It was the final out of the inning and, effectively, the last really good scoring chance Haven had against Zimmerman.
The Panthers managed to get runners on first and second in the fourth, but Zimmerman squashed the threat when he struck out Jack Mon and got Andrew Yates to fly out to center fielder Reilly Fillman.
“Once I am out there throwing, I don’t even realize that it’s cold, to be honest,” Zimmerman said. “I was kind of locked in and I didn’t think about the weather.”
Zimmerman’s opposite number threw the ball very well through five innings. Haven starter Henry Dawes limited the Tigers to no runs on three
singles until the sixth, when the visitors sent seven batters to the plate and scored two runs. Fillman reached on a one-out single, and Zimmerman laced a single to make it first and third with one out. Senior catcher Luke Cantwell shot a single through the hole at shortstop, enabling Fillman to score the game’s first run. Moments later, Zimmerman — who isn’t known for his fleet feet — swiped home plate on the front end of a delayed double steal. Zimmerman sprinted down the third-base line and dove headfirst safely to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
“Not sure if it was really planned that way,” Zimmerman said, “but I just knew I had to score.”
Zimmerman, who collected two base knocks, could do no wrong on this day.
“I see Luke out there commanding the whole field,” said Luke Cantwell, who next year will play at Division II juggernaut West Chester. “He’s in control of everything that’s going on (and) has a good tempo. Sometimes I don’t even call a pitch because he already knows what kind of pitch he wants to throw in his mind. He’s got that kind of craft and he just knows how to go at batters. It’s awesome to even be behind the plate to catch him, watching a Division I pitcher is one thing but catching one is a whole other thing. He was working every pitch today and throwing them for strikes.”
Marple Newtown (5-0, 3-0 Central) tacked on three runs in the top of the seventh. Alden Mathes (3-for-4) and Fillman each supplied run-scoring singles, and Tyler Bogan hit a double. Steve Morrison shut the door with a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
Viggiano was 2-for-3 with a stolen base for Strath Haven (3-2, 2-2). Dawes scattered six hits and two runs over six solid innings. He struck out two.
In other Central League action:
Ridley 5, Haverford 2 >> Jack Liberio pitched 6.2 innings with 11 strikeouts as the Green Raiders (1-3) registered their first win. Ryan Meyer was 3-for-4 with a double, while Connor Warwick and John Lockhart each singled twice. Ridley plated all of its runs in the top of the first.
Shaun Jones doubled, scored a run and walked once for Haverford.
Lower Merion 5, Garnet Valley 1 >> LM starter Alec Deegan stymied the hot-hitting Jaguars, who were limited to two hits. Cole Palis tripled and scored GV’s only run. All-Delco Mason Miller knocked in a run.
Deegan, who struck out four and issued two walks, collected two RBIs for the Aces.
Harriton 14, Springfield 0 >> The Cougars managed only two hits, including a double by Eddie Ronayne, and committed six errors en route to their third straight loss. Harriton ace Jonah Frankel threw a two-hitter over six innings with nine strikeouts.
Penncrest 9, Radnor 6 >> The Lions erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth inning, erasing a two-run deficit along the way. Evan Rosenberg picked up the win.
Nick Scheri banged out two doubles and scored a pair of runs for the Raiders. Doug Campbell was 2-for-3 with a double.
Conestoga 13, Upper Darby 3 >> Chris Anderson went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, but the Royals made seven errors. Justin Rimel notched two hits and Alec Maniz laced a double.
In the Catholic League:
Archbishop Carroll 3, Cardinal O’Hara 2 >> Tyler Kehoe’s single with two down in the top of the seventh brought home Trent Pierce with the go-ahead run. Chris Grill’s clutch two-out double in the sixth evened the score for the Patriots (4-1, 2-0).
Kehoe pitched three innings of scoreless relief for the win.
O’Hara ace Liam Nihill recorded nine strikeouts over 5.2 innings, but had to leave the game when he reached his pitch count limit. Dan Hopkins and Luke Sprague each went 2-for-3 with a double for the Lions.
In the Ches-Mont League:
Great Valley 4, Sun Valley 0 >> Ryan Duplicki tossed five scoreless innings and was 2-for-3 at the dish, but the Vanguards couldn’t get their bats going.
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