DOWNINGTOWN >> This is getting to be quite a habit. One Downingtown West would love to continue.
Monday afternoon, the host Whippets rode the strong right arm of ace pitcher Drew Britt to a convincing 7-0 victory over Great Valley that gave Downingtown West its fourth straight Ches-Mont League National Division championship and a first round bye in the upcoming District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
Britt got an early lead for himself in the bottom of the first inning as Tom Eliason led off with a single and was sacrificed to second base by Evan Williams. Up stepped Eric Grintz, who took a 1-1 fastball from Patriot (5-14) starter Wylie Muck and deposited it over the left center field fence for a 2-0 Whippet lead. That was all Britt would need as he fanned 11 batters and allowed just five hits in his complete game win, walking none. Britt had great command of his fastball and was pounding the strike zone all game.
“This championship means so much too us because we had to chase Downingtown East this season,” Britt said. “They had a two-game lead and they are a very good team that had a great year. But, we dug down and battled so, yes, this does mean a little more. And we are not done yet. We feel we can make a run in districts and states and if we do not beat ourselves we are going to be very tough.”
Great Valley posed a threat to Britt in the top of the second inning. Ryan Giandonato led off with a single and went to second on Sean Gowen’s single to center, putting two men on with no one out. But Britt reared back and struck out Connor Ryan, and got Cade Reat to hit into a double play.
The score stayed 2-0 until Downingtown West erupted in the bottom of the fourth inning and took control of the game and the championship. Muck walked the first two Whippets (16-3) and Dylan Dirocco loaded the bases with the first of his two hits on the day. Josh Willenbrock was walked, scoring a run, and after Muck struck out Eliason, the Whippets followed with three consecutive singles by Williams, Grintz and Britt and the game was broken wide open.
Downingtown West scored five runs on five hits in the inning and took a 7-0 lead after four innings. Britt was on fire, striking out two Great Valley batters in the fifth inning and fanning all three Patriot batters in the sixth. Great Valley did get two men on in the top of the seventh, but Britt fanned Reat and Matt Alleva to end the game, sending the Whippets charging off the bench to mob Britt and the celebration was on.
“This is a great group of guys that worked real hard and have a lot of talent,” Williams said. “We had to chase Downingtown East so this is a little more special because we were behind in the standings and this is a great feeling to win another Ches-Mont title.”
West will be off for nine days now as it prepares to host a second round game in the district playoffs after losing in the same round last season.
“We want more than the league,” said West coach Dave Oleszek. “But to win four in a row shows how hard these kids work. We were down in the standings by two games so every game was a must win whether we were home or away. And that puts a lot of pressure on the players but we prepare to play with pressure. These kids really deserve this because they are a very hard working bunch. Now, we will prepare for the playoffs and get ready again.”