DOWNINGTOWN — When you have an experienced baseball team throwing its number one pitcher against a young squad trying to figure things out early in the season, you usually have to favor the veteran outfit.
Wednesday afternoon at Downingtown West High School, the veteran Whippets rode a superlative three-hit, five-inning performance from ace left-hander Doug Conrad to a convincing 7-0 Ches-Mont National win over West Chester Henderson team.
Downingtown West (2-1 Ches-Mont National, 2-1 overall) scored six runs in the bottom of the third inning off Warriors (1-3, 1-3) lefty Jason McMahon, who did not pitch badly, but some shoddy fielding and a few well-placed hits were Henderson’s undoing.
“We had some balls that were very well placed in our last game and we worked on that yesterday (Tuesday) and then today, some balls were placed even better and found green for Downingtown,’ Henderson coach Luke McNichol said. “We have a lot of young guys and we are working on things. We may be starting slow and hopefully finish strong because we play 19 league games. We will be working very hard.’
Downingtown West looked menacing in the first two innings, stranding four runners without scoring.
The third-inning rally started when Allan Jankowski led off with a walk. Ken Jaremma then laid down a bunt in front of the plate that resulted in a single, putting runners on first and second with no one out. Toby Welk then hit a fly ball to left field that should have been caught, but fell in to load the bases.
Colin Domblesky scored Jankowski with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Then, the flood gates opened. Conrad singled home a run, right fielder J.P. Bell laced a two-run double to center field. Eric Small hit a fly ball to right that found green. Two more walks later and a RBI single from Jankowski, the Whippets batted around and staked Conrad to a 6-0 advantage.
“We left some men stranded in the first two innings, but then guys started to relax the second time through and we got some runs,’ Downingtown West coach Dave Oleszek said. “And with Doug pitching, we were in good shape. He is our ace and he spots the balls well. He has good command of three pitches and he hits his spots and does not try to overthrow the ball.’
Conrad had set down the first nine Henderson batters he faced, with four strikeouts. He was mixing a good curveball with a rather lively fastball.
In the fourth inning, the Warriors tried to mount a rally of their own. Vinny Feola led off with a grounder to short that was booted. Tommy Caulfield then skied to center for the first out. Cole Bement followed with an infield single to put two men on.
Matt Dinacci, the number four-hole hitter, struck out on a low fastball. Conrad then induced Mike Hill to ground out to third base to end the inning and keep Henderson off the board.
“I was locating my pitches very well today,’ Conrad said. “And when I am hitting my spots, it is a good thing. My defense really had my back today.’
Henderson did not threaten after that, while the Whippets added a run in the bottom of the fifth, aided by another error.
Two relief pitchers, Joey Zettlemore and Josh Marcelli finished up the sixth and seventh innings for West.
“We are an experienced team that has been through a lot of Ches-Mont games and we are confident in our chances this season.’ Conrad said.