FALLS TWP. – Heading down the season stretch and into the District 1 playoffs, Pennsbury is going to need a third pitcher who can take command.
The Falcons feel like they have found the right man for the job in Ryan McCarty. In his first ever varsity start, the senior righthander tossed a gem Wednesday (May 10) at home, helping his team to a much-needed 1-0 triumph over Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rival Council Rock South.
The win keeps Pennsbury (12-6, 8-2 SOL National) tied for first place with rival Neshaminy, whom the Falcons toppled Monday (May 8) by a 6-1 score.
“We’ve been in big situations like this before,” stated McCarty. “I just kept myself calm and I came out and threw well.
“I knew I could do it.”
McCarty kept the Golden Hawk hitters off-balance, limiting the opponent to just five hits and two walks while striking out six batters. In the fifth inning after his team took the lead, he struck out the side, getting all three hitters to look at called third strikes.
“We know he throws hard and he throws three pitches for strikes,” explained Pennsbury head coach Joe Pesci. “We’re going to need multiple starting pitchers moving forward and this is a huge week with three big league games.
“We went with him because we thought he would do exactly what he did today. He gave up five hits but he didn’t allow any runs and he kept the free bases to a minimum.”
The Yardley-Morrisville Senior Legion product had to be almost perfect on this day. That’s because his counterpart on the mound for CR South was nearly just as good.
Hawks senior lefthander Zach Mayer limited the Falcons to just six hits while walking none.
“He’s a really good pitcher, he’s got a pretty good curveball and he’s a lefty, which makes it a little tougher,” added Pesci. “But we tried to take the right approach today. We just had to sit back and wait for the ball to come to us and our kids did a really good job with that.”
The difference in this game was the Falcons strung half of their hits together in one inning, starting with Pennsbury power hitter Dave Murphy’s double that led off the fourth.
Third baseman Nick Price followed with a bunt single, laid perfectly down the third base line that put runners at the corners. It was number nine hitter Vaughn Ward, a left-handed hitter who came through with the game-winning strike, slapping an opposite field one-out single to left field.
Ward is hitting .300 for the season thus far. More importantly, his game-winner gave him 11 RBI, second on the squad to McCarty, who leads the team with 15 and one more than top hitter Justin Massielo.
“Vaughn Ward came up clutch again,” said Pesci. “He’s been doing that for the past eight or nine games so we’re thrilled.”
While Mayer induced fly ball outs to the next two batters, leaving a pair of runners stranded, the Falcons had all they needed to win in this one.
For CR South (9-9, 5-5 SOL), this was the Hawks’ third loss against a league opponent that was decided by a single run. South lost to Pennsbury 4-3 in nine innings and by a 3-2 score to Neshaminy in an eight-inning contest.
“In my opinion, we’re one of the best teams in the league,” stated senior third baseman Josh Kim, who is headed to Villanova. “We just keep dropping these really close games and it’s unfortunate.”
The Hawks had their best chance to score in the sixth inning when they put catcher Evan Fisher (walk) and first baseman John Crane (single) at the corners with only one out. While McCarty induced a force-out at second base on a ground ball slapped toward the middle infield by Eric Jeronis, it was first baseman Kyle Dear who helped put this one in the win column for his team when he stabbed a frozen rope by second baseman Trey Obarowski for the final out.
“That’s just another example,” added Kim. “We’ll barrel the ball up; we just can’t find that one big hit to fall through.”
South has just two games remaining – Friday at home vs. red hot Bensalem and next Tuesday at Neshaminy. The Hawks have to win out in order to make it to the postseason.
South last made it to districts in 2015 when it lost to Owen J. Roberts in the first round. Pennsbury has advanced to the postseason the last three years, making states in 2015. The Falcons took fifth place in the district that year but were eliminated by Boyertown in the Round of 16 last season.
While Pennsbury has also had its share of one-run losses, falling 1-0 to both Neshaminy and Bensalem and 3-2 to Souderton, the Falcons are getting hot at the right time, topping Holy Ghost, Neshaminy and now South in their last three.
In a 6-1 triumph over the Skins May 8 at Neshaminy, it was Pennsbury senior Bill Bethel’s time to shine. The righthander headed to Chestnut Hill struck out nine batters and did not allow an earned run in seven innings.
Bethel was on the hill for the Falcons’ 1-0 loss to the Skins in April. In that one, Billy limited Neshaminy to just four hits while walking none. In 14 innings pitched vs. the Skins, he’s kept Neshaminy to a single earned run.
While Skins righthander Zach Boop proved to be a little bit better than Bethel in the first duel between the schools, Pennsbury tagged the senior headed to Lehigh for five runs in the fifth inning in the rematch.
“Boop is a good pitcher but even in that loss, we had a really good approach against him,” stated Pesci.
“This time, I think we just had a lot more intensity and I think we knew how to get their hitters out. They had maybe only four or five hits but we were able to spread them out and Billy has been getting stronger and stronger throughout the year.”
Coming through with multiple hits for the Falcons were Bethel (2-for-2) and Price (2-for-4), who stroked an RBI single down the third base line during the fifth-inning rally.
Tied for first place in the SOL National with Neshaminy (both teams are 8-2), Pennsbury travels to CR North Friday and to Truman next Tuesday. The Skins travel to Truman Friday and host CR South next Tuesday.
The SOL National crown could go to either side or they could share it. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury righthander Ryan McCarty tossed a complete-game 5-hit shutout, helping the Falcons to a 1-0 win over Council Rock South Wednesday, May 10 on their home field. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
NOTES: McCarty plans to play and pitch at Penn State-Abington next year.
Pennsbury 1, Council Rock South 0
(May 10 at Pennsbury)
CR SOUTH 000 000 0 – 0 5 1
PENNSBURY 000 100 0 – 1 6 0
WP — Ryan McCarty (1-0) 7IP, 0R, 5H, 2BB, 6SO, 0HB; LP — Zach Mayer (5-3) 6IP, 1R, 6H, 0BB, 1SO, 1HB.
DOUBLES: P — Dave Murphy; CRS — none.
RBIs: P — Vaughn Ward; CRS — none.
MULTIPLE HITS: CRS — Matt Smith 2-for-4, Joe Shragher 2-for-3; P — Nick Price 2-for-3.