McGurl keeps mistakes to a minimum for Radnor

NETHER PROVIDENCE — Garrett McGurl made one big mistake Wednesday afternoon.

It wasn’t on the mound for Corey Ziring’s fourth-inning home run which tied matters between Radnor and Strath Haven. It was actually how McGurl broke the tie.

“It was a curveball, and it was outside,’ said McGurl of his fifth-inning fielder’s choice that scored pinch-runner Pat Scheri and gave Radnor a 3-2 win. “My coach said, ‘˜swing at everything inside.’ So I kind of messed up, but I was lucky.’

The rest of McGurl’s day didn’t depend on fortune. He made his own luck in seven stellar innings, scattering nine hits (the Ziring dinger plus eight singles) and walking none to earn Radnor’s fourth win in five games.

Most importantly, McGurl managed to keep a quiet Haven lineup from busting out. Ziring’s home run, which flew out over the deep left-center-field fence and tied the game at 2, could’ve been the catalyst for an offensive resurgence. But McGurl made sure that didn’t happen.

He pitched around two singles and a hit-by-pitch in the fifth, getting Ziring to fly out to center with the bases loaded. After a 1-2-3 sixth, McGurl got consecutive groundouts to second base, the latter on a sliding stop by Sean Corelli, to overcome Casey Rosier’s second single of the day with one out in the seventh.

“I just wanted to throw strikes because last time I pitched I walked a couple of kids, doesn’t usually end well,’ McGurl said. “And I know my fielders had me. It worked out well.’

Radnor, meanwhile, strung together just enough hits to get the job done. Mike Lanzone pounded out an RBI groundout after Connor Wilson led off the game with a walk, and Will Girton drove home McGurl, who’d doubled, to double the lead in the second inning.

The fifth started with John Lord singling, then pinch-runner Scheri was moved over on a walk and a sacrifice. McGurl hit a three-hopper up the middle that Haven shortstop Mike Dougherty slid, caught and threw home all in one motion, but Scheri, off at the crack of the bat, got in fractions of a second ahead of David Shore’s tag.

That at-bat illustrated the difference between the teams. Despite leaving nine men on base, Radnor (8-5, 7-4) replicated its knack for mustering just enough to stay in the thick of the Central League title picture.

Part of that surge has been the return of Connor Wilson, one of a handful of players who had been suspended for off-field issues. In addition to strengthening the team’s defense in center, he reached base three times, collecting two hits.

Wilson’s table-setting ability has accentuated the clutch hitting in the middle of the order, helping the Raiders find consistent offense in a Central League where that quality is alarmingly scarce. That’s increased the lineup’s confidence, which has heightened their sharpness at the plate.

“I think it’s very important that, people at the plate, you need to have confidence,’ Wilson said. “Because if you don’t have confidence, you’re going to be timid, you’re not going to swing at the pitches that you need to swing at, and things aren’t going to fall through well. So definitely there’s a confidence aspect to it, and I think that team has developed it more.’

Strath Haven (7-7, 6-6) continued an alarming trend of feast-or-famine hitting. Over the last 12 games, the Panthers have either scored seven runs or more, or two runs or less, a stretch that has left no middle ground.

It’s also been unfriendly to pitchers like Matt Eiel, who saw a solid effort wasted Wednesday. He gave up seven hits and walked two, but he pitched out of danger thanks to seven strikeouts, stranding five Raiders in scoring position.

While Eiel was understandably disappointed with the result, he was encouraged by the process. The Panthers hit some balls hard and put the ball in play more often than not, two meaningful signs of progress.

“We’re trying to change our mentality as a team, make a push here and make the playoffs,’ Eiel said. “I think we did a much better job at the plate today. Even though we only squeak two runs across the plate today, I personally think it could’ve been more.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply