As they took the field on a cool, cloudy afternoon, Thursday, May 6, the SCH Blue Devils baseball team and Germantown Academy (GA) Patriots were on opposite sides of the spectrum when it came …
As they took the field on a cool, cloudy afternoon, Thursday, May 6, the SCH Blue Devils baseball team and Germantown Academy (GA) Patriots were on opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to Inter-Ac play. SCH held a 3-3 record in conference play and is fighting with Haverford, Malvern and Penn Charter for the league title. GA, on the other hand, is sitting at 1-5 in conference play and is not in the fight for the league title.
The starting pitchers were SCH junior, Jakob Runkel and GA junior, Raphy Gariano.
Gariano took to the mound first for the home team and retired all his first three hitters in order for a quick half-inning.
Runkel, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to find his footing. He walked the first batter he faced and an error at second base allowed GA to have runners on first and second. Senior Alexander Bouchard of GA hit a two-run RBI single and both baserunners scored, giving the Patriots a 2-0 lead over the Blue Devils going into the second inning.
SCH hit back in the second inning as sophomore shortstop Sean Finn got the Devils’ first hit of the game. When the next batter came up to bat, junior catcher Joseph Cava of GA, couldn’t block the ball and the pitch got by him. Finn advanced to second base on the error and soon stole third base. Senior pitcher and designated hitter John Bautista of SCH brought him home hammered with an RBI single and SCH brought the score to 2-1.
GA was able to add another run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly to stay ahead. 3-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, SCH came to life as Gariano walked the first batter, and Cava missed another throw, allowing the runner to get to second. The runner for SCH then stole third base, which put him in prime scoring position. Cava missed another pitch low in the dirt, and the runner scored to make it a one-run game. Junior left fielder Darius Isaacs singled, giving SCH baserunners on first and second. Senior third baseman Brian Finn then hit an RBI double to tie the game up, 3-3.
SCH continued its comeback in the next inning. Sean Finn hit a routine ground ball towards the pitcher’s mound. After SCH put runners on second and third through a series of pitching and fielding errors, GA replaced Gariano with Zachary Genovesi. Genovesi’s first pitch skipped past Cava and SCH took the lead as the runner on third came home to score. SCH now led 4-3 and never looked back.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, SCH put Christian Vetter on the mound to close out the game and he retired his first three batters in order.
If GA had any hopes of making a comeback, it all went away in the top of the seventh. Senior and second baseman Bobby Markey of SCH, laid down a beautifully placed bunt that gave SCH baserunners on 1st and 3rd. John Bautista got a 2-run to give SCH a comfortable 6-3 lead. Darius Isaacs then hit an RBI single which then made the score 7-3. Brian Finn then belted a two-run RBI double moving the score to 9-3. Senior right fielder Brian Hennessy hit a hard ground ball into the outfield which brought in another run for the Blue Devils. Chuck Norton joined the party as he hit a 2-run RBI double. GA made a much-needed pitching change as Alexander Bouchard came onto the mound and got GA out of the inning.
GA had a quick 1, 2, 3 inning and SCH secured the 12-3 victory. They scored a total of eight runs in the seventh inning alone as they put any thought of GA’s comeback to bed.
SCH Head Coach Joe Ishikawa praised the efforts of the team and noted his starting pitcher, Jakob Runkel.
“This was his first start,” Ishikawa said. “Normally we have him coming out of the backend to close games for us. But Jakob is a pitbull and one thing about Jakob is, he does not surrender...He’s just a quiet, methodical young man. But let me tell you, within that stomach of his, the tiger growls loudly and he’s just tough as they come. Bottom line.”
Walk off homer in extra innings lifts SCH over Perkiomen
Following the teams’ come-from-behind 12-3 win at Germantown Academy, the SCH baseball decided to give its regulars a rest in a non-league game against the Perkiomen Panthers on a chilly May 8 at their home field.
Freshman Ha’oa Bode started on the mound for SCH, and sophomore Shane Baird was the starting pitcher for Perkiomen. Through the first two innings, it was clear that both teams were defensively sound as the game was at a 0-0 stalemate as both pitchers were in the zone on the mound.
It was not until the top of the third when Perkiomen scored the first run of the game. Senior, Tony Holden hit an RBI single to bring home a run to give Perkiomen a 1-0 lead. The Panthers’ defense held and they shut out the Devils in the next inning.
It was the bottom of the fourth inning and SCH was down 2-0. Like its last game against GA, the comeback seemed inevitable. SCH got consecutive hits by junior Tommy Shelinsky, junior Chuck Norton and sophomore Ryan White. Senior Nick Weston walked to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a two-run RBI double to even the game at 2-2.
In the top of the fifth inning, SCH held Perkiomen scoreless as their defense stood strong. A missed pickoff attempt by SCH allowed the runner on first base to advance to third, but Perkiomen couldn’t bring him home.
SCH kept their bats going as freshman Rory Finn nearly hit a home run to open the bottom of the fifth but got a double instead. Senior, Matt Elliott then hit a double of his own to give the Devils base runners at second and third. Tommy Shelinsky then got an RBI single to give SCH the lead, 3-2. A sacrifice fly ball allowed for another run to come home and the score was now 4-2. Perkiomen got out of the inning before it got any worse, but everything was going SCH’s way.
The Devils decided to bring in sophomore Tyler Kidwell to close the game. Tyler couldn’t find his rhythm to start as he walked his first batter and let Perkiomen get within one run of tying the game. He then walked the next batter and the game was now 4-4. A fly ball allowed SCH to get out of the inning.
The bottom of the seventh inning was SCH’s opportunity to end the game with a score. Perkiomen made a pitching change with hopes that a fresh arm will help push the game into extra innings. The Panthers held the Devils scoreless throughout the inning so the game went into extra innings.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the 10th inning that SCH was able to do something offensively. They got back-to-back hits and to put runners on first and second with no outs. It was then junior Chuck Norton who hit a moonshot to end the game on a walk-off, three-run homerun.
“We have a real bright future,” said Head Coach Joe Ishikawa on the performance of his young players. “That’s what baseball is, it’s a character game and they showed a tremendous level of character.”
“He threw really well,” said Devils Head Coach, Ishikawa of Bode. “Coach Eddie [pitching coach] has been working with him before the game on a new pitch and he brought it to the game and he executed it. He was battling and battling so he did a great job for us.”
The man of the hour, Chuck Norton was smiling ear to ear and rightfully so. After he played two straight games as catcher, he seemed physically tired by the end of the game. Hitting a walk-off helped take his mind off his sore legs for a little while.
“I’m not gonna lie, my legs were a little dead by the eighth inning,” he said. “So it was a little hard to get back there each inning. I just wanted to end it [the game] so that I could feel my hamstrings tomorrow morning...It was a fun day behind the plate and a fun ending to the game.”