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Perfect Picone bounces back as Garnet Valley rolls

Garnet Valley’s Dom Picone delivers a pitch against Penncrest Friday afternoon. Picone retired all 15 batters he faced in a perfect game, a 14-0 win for the Jaguars.

MIDDLETOWN >> Dom Picone’s most recent start on the mound prior to Friday is one he would like to forget.

“He hit a few guys and lost his composure a little. It was very unlike him, too,” Garnet Valley coach Rudy Schiller said. “I know he was feeling down on himself after that start and was looking forward to get back out there.”

The 5-10 junior right-hander lasted only one inning and gave up two runs against Lower Merion on April 9. Friday afternoon at Penncrest, Picone was ready to redeem himself.

“We know what he is capable of,” said senior Mason Miller, the Jags’ All-Delco center fielder. “He’s got great stuff … and had it today.”

Picone was masterful in a five-inning Central League contest Friday. He authored a perfect game, striking out 11 of the 15 batters he faced, as Garnet Valley cruised to victory, 14-0.

Garnet Valley’s Dom Picone delivers a pitch against Penncrest Friday afternoon. Picone retired all 15 batters he faced in a perfect game, a 14-0 win for the Jaguars.

Of the 62 pitches Picone threw, 47 went for strikes. He had an eight-pitch third inning and struck out the side on 10 pitches in the fourth.

“It feels good,” Picone said. “I’ve thrown a no-hitter before, but I never threw a perfect game.”

Picone used a three-pitch mix to keep the Lions guessing: Fastball, curveball and change. But what made Picone really stand out was his fast pace.

Needless to say, he is a get-the-ball-and-go pitcher. He trusts catcher Steve Caruso, with help from his coaches on the bench, to call the best pitch in any situation.

“I’ve always done that, working fast,” Picone said. “I’m anxious to get the next pitch, and I like for us to go quick.”

When the Lions were lucky to make contact, they grounded out three times weakly and hit a soft liner to second baseman Reece Malek.

“He is usually very quick to the plate and has a (good idea) of where to pitch,” Schiller said. “The kids were right behind him 100 percent. That is great to see.”

Picone’s teammates appreciate how quickly he works, especially during a season plagued by cold temperatures.

“It’s definitely great as a fielder,” Miller said. “He’s always in the zone with his pitches and likes to work fast. You have to always be ready.”

It didn’t hurt Picone’s cause that Garnet Valley’s lineup was blistering the ball all afternoon, either. Penncrest starter Dylan Bittle will have better days, too. He began the game by plunking leadoff hitter Cole Palis, who scored on the first of Miller’s three base knocks, an RBI triple smoked to the left-center gap. Braydon Morandini, the son of Phillies legend Mickey Morandini, hit a bomb to center field for an RBI double to give GV a 2-0 cushion.

Miller has made some tweaks to his swing, but nothing too drastic. He’s locked in at the dish, and it shows with every at bat. He barrels the ball and can hit to all fields, as evidenced by his opposite-field single in the second that knocked in a pair of runs. It was a thing of beauty.

“When I’m up there, I’m not trying to do too much,” Miller said. “I’m just working on getting my hands set and making sure I put a good swing through.”

Miller will continue his baseball career at Monmouth next spring.

“They were really the first school that I talked to, the first to really recruit me,” Miller said. “It was a great fit for me and I’m happy to end up there.”

The offensive onslaught continued for the Jags in the fourth. Malek smacked an RBI single, and Miller collected a two-run single as the Jags went ahead by six. In the third, GV sent 11 players to the dish and scored six runs on six hits. Morandini doubled for the second time, and Palis stroked a two-RBI single. Miller, John McLaughlin and Steve Theisen also added run-scoring knocks.

So is this the type of offensive production the Jags can expect going forward?

“We feel pretty great with our bats right now,” Miller said. “This was a big game for us, and everyone (contributed) with the bats. We feel we’re in every game and that’s a good thing.”

Every Garnet Valley starter managed at least one hit. Palis singled, walked and was hit by pitch. Malek had a single, an RBI and two runs scored. Miller went 3-for-3 with a triple and four ribbies. Morandini had a pair of two-baggers, while McLaughlin, Caruso, Paul Zappala and Theisen all chipped in with a hit.

In the Del Val League:

Glen Mills 11, Chester 0 >> Jamil Brinson hurled a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts as the Bulls thumped the Clippers in five innings. Marli Alonso and Anthony Hockensmith collected three hits apiece in the victory.

In the Inter-Ac League:
Haverford School 11, Penn Charter 7 >> The Fords stormed back from an early 5-1 deficit and scored at least one run in every inning.

Justin Meyer continues to lead the Fords at the plate. He went 2-for-2 with a homer, double, three walks and two runs scored, recording his 100th career hit.

Pat Toal singled and walked three times, Joe Bonini tripled and scored three runs, and Isaiah Winikur finished 2-for-3 with a double.
Toal pitched 5.1 innings of relief, striking out three while allowing one earned run on three hits.



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