April 24, 2008 Issue
Chestnut Hill Local
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CHA baseball pegs Penn Charter
Hard work really does pay off. At least that was the case for CHA leftfielder Zach Lehrbaum on Tuesday afternoon after he hit a two-RBI single to give the CHA Blue Devils a 10-9 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning against visiting Penn Charter. That hit proved to be the difference as the Blue Devils found a way to win the hotly contested match
“Zach is a kid that loves baseball, and sat on the bench as a varsity player last year,” said head coach Stan Parker. “But he worked really hard in the off season. We talked to him before he went up to bat about keeping his front shoulder in, and that is what he did on the second pitch. It wasn’t the greatest hit in the world, but it got where it needed to go to give us the win.”
The game turned out to be a slugfest because neither starting pitcher was sharp. Penn Charter jumped out to a 4-0 lead off Blue Devil ace Mike Mattei, who clearly did not have his best stuff in this contest, allowing right runs on nine hits while walking six Quakers.
“I talked to Mike throughout the course of the game and he said that his arm felt good, but he just didn’t have it today,” Parker said. “He just wasn’t making the necessary adjustments that he needed to make.”
Luckily, his Blue Devil teammates found a way to pick him up all game long. In the bottom of the inning, Steel Russell hit a grand slam over the right-centerfield wall to knot the game at four.
After giving up two runs on an RBI groundout and a wild pitch in the top of the second inning, Mattei was determined to make something happen at the plate in the bottom of the frame. He found a way to help himself when he launched a titanic two-run homer over the left-centerfield fence to once again tie the game, this time at six.
Mattei pitched a scoreless third, and CHA took the lead in the bottom of the inning centerfielder John McCallister hit a bit of a flare double to left field that could have been caught, that scored Tommy Devlin that doubled two hitters prior. Sophomore second baseman Brian Dones scored on a wild pitch later in the inning to give the Blue Devils an 8-6 lead.
“These kids responded all game long,” Parker said. “We talked to them before the game about being mentally focused for an entire game and they were today.”
Despite the grit, and determination that the Blue Devils showed, the Quakers showed quite a bit of those characteristics as well. Every time CHA tied or took the lead and seemed like it snagged the momentum, Penn Charter found a way to answer. PC scored two in the fourth to tie the game, and one in the sixth to take the lead, which set the final stage for Lehrbaum.
“Penn Charter is a good program, and they always have been,” Parker said. “They really challenged us today.”
Even with the tough effort from the Quakers, the Blue Devils found a way to get the last three outs in the top of the seventh behind junior Brandon Sady, who filled in for Mattei in the fifth inning. Things got a little interesting in the seventh inning when Sady surrendered a one-out double, but he induced two pop flies, the last one fittingly to Lehrbaum in left to end the game.
Update: Sometimes, despite valiant late game efforts, five runs is just too much. CHA dug itself a five run hole against Malvern Prep on Friday afternoon, and that deficit proved to be insurmountable. Malvern, who is ranked number one in the area by The Philadelphia Inquirer, got three RBI singles, a bases loaded walk and a balk all in the first inning en route to a 9-6 win.
“In league games for some reason we have been very tight, and playing the number one ranked team in the area may have had something to do with that” said head coach Stan Parker. “This is the third time we have dug ourselves a first inning hole, and we could’ve packed it in in any of those games, but we didn’t.”
One thing the Blue Devils have done all season long is swing the bats very well, but they could not manage anything off Friars’ starter Rick Kazigan. Kazigan was brilliant for the five innings he pitched, allowing no runs on just two hits, striking out two and not walking a batter.After a hectic schedule with four games this week, things slow down a little bit for the Blue Devils with only one non-league contest this week. CHA hosts Academy of the New Church on Thursday for a little Friends League – Inter-Ac league tussle.