WORCESTER >> Methacton pitcher Zack Griffin dazzled from start to finish Monday afternoon.
The right-hander scattered four hits over a complete seven innings to lead the Warriors to a 2-1 Pioneer Athletic Conference win over Upper Merion at Methacton High School.
Griffin finished with six strikeouts to one walk to go along with his one earned run.
“I was just hitting my spots,” Griffin said, “especially working the outside part of the plate. The umpire was giving me a little outside so I kept working there, ended up going seven innings and working well.”
“Great start by Zack,” Methacton coach Paul Spiewak said. “Every start he’s had so far he’s come out and thrown strikes with two pitches, keep us in the game and they made some hits here and there but we played good defense for him.”
Griffin didn’t get in much trouble until the sixth inning.
The only run he allowed was on a home run with a bit of confusion. Upper Merion Anthony Swenda ripped a pitch to the right-center gap. Methacton centerfielder Perry Corda saw the ball roll under the fence and raised his arms. Before the umpire could come see the ball, Corda picked up the ball while Swenda was rounding third base. Since the ball was touched, the umpires could not make a ruling and Swenda crossed home plate for a run, cutting the Vikings deficit to 2-1.
“That’s just me failing to make sure my outfielders knew that,” Spiewak said. “The good news is — a sort of silver lining — the next guy hit a double so he would have scored anyway. I can live with myself now.”
Mike Hutchinson hit the double and Jonathan Eyer followed with an infield single. With the tying run on second base and go-ahead run on first. Griffin buckled down and got a fly ball to left field for the second out and a grounder to third to end the threat.
“They were in my head a little bit,” he said, “but I knew that my guys behind me had my back. I just had to throw to contact and they played great defense all game. I’m really proud of them.”
Griffin faced more trouble in the seventh. After a strikeout, he issued his only walk of the game and then an error put the winning run on base with one out. He got out of it with a grounder to third that resulted in a game-ending double play.
“Their pitcher did a heck of a job,” Upper Merion coach Matt Mitchell said. “He was mixing speeds pitching backwards a lot.”
Methacton broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning. After Demetrio Rodriguez was ejected for his reaction to a called strike, Josh Dubost was called upon to enter the game and finish the at-bat. He worked a walk and stole second. After an error, Jordan Lukas bunted him to third and Mark Engelman scored him on a sacrifice fly.
“With things we’ve been struggling with all year,” Spiewak said, “moving runners, scoring runners with less than two outs and stealing bases. We struggled over the last couple weeks with them. We were able to do that today … While we’d certainly like to be better offensively, we hit some balls hard right at them today, but that was really good to see that we were able to throw strikes and play good defense and offensively be able to move runners and score them when we had the opportunities to.”
The second run, which turned out to be the game-winner, came in the fifth. Erik Timko and Conor Smith hit back-to-back two-out doubles, with Smith’s scoring Timko to make it 2-0.
Zach Hooven pitched all six innings for Upper Merion. He allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits. He walked two batters.
“Hoov was great,” Mitchell said. “The one ball that really killed us our centerfielder lost it in the sky (Smith’s double). It’s one of those deals where baseball is strange like that sometimes. It’s a game of inches. If that last ball is a little bit further down the line or in the hole then I’m waving them around. Instead it turns into a double play ball. I told them to keep their chins up, they played a good game today.”