Three double-plays, clutch hitting fuel Avon Grove's 3-1 win
● By Richard Gaw
On Monday afternoon, during pre-game ceremonies to acknowledge the seven graduating seniors on the Avon Grove baseball team, freshman third baseman and master of ceremonies Andrew Brady struggled with his microphone, which kept conking out on him as he introduced his teammates and their parents.
By game's end, all of his teammates, whether he introduced them or not, were happy that his bat and his glove did not conk out.
Backed by Brady's two-hit, two-RBI day and slick fielding that shut down a Great Valley threat in the second, the Red Devils defeated the visiting patriots, 3-1, in Ches-Mont League play. The win gave pitcher Zach Swank the victory on five and two-thirds innings pitched, and pushed Avon Grove's record to an impressive 11-5 in the Ches-Mont standings.
"We told Zach, 'Whatever we can get out of you today is your day,'" said Avon Grove head coach Dave Whitcraft. "He did that and then some. We thought about getting four out of him and going to Michael Deitz, but for Zack to go five and two-thirds deep was dynamite."
Despite three singles in the first by Daniel Klinger, Michael Deitz and Ryan Guckin, Great Valley starter Allen Barry left the Red Devils scoreless, but in their half of the second, Avon Grove jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Brady led off the inning with a double to left-center. A sacrifice bunt by Nate Sottung advanced Brady to third, and he later scored on a double by Taylor Kim down the left field line.
Brady flashed a little of the glovework that has made the freshman one of the mainstays on a team that has remained at the top of the league standings all year. Great Valley's Tom Allen singled to start the third inning, advanced to second on a walk to Austin Lenker, and was thrown out at third on a sacrifice bunt that was scooped up by Avon Grove catcher Guckin and fired to Brady at third. With two on and one out, the Patriots' Carter Rubin lined a bullet down the third base line, which Brady dove for and grabbed in a cloud of dust. He then touched third to force the runner and fired a rocket to first baseman Deitz to nab Rubin for a double-play.
Avon Grove then touched Barry for its remaining two runs in the bottom of the third inning, a rally mostly orchestrated by the baserunning of shortstop Jeremy Farrow. Leading off the inning with a single off of Barry's leg, Farrow then stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored the Red Devils' second run on a passed ball.
Brady then singled to center, scoring Zach Long who had previously walked to give Avon Grove and Swank a comfortable 3-0 cushion. Great Valley's scoring threat in the third was ended with a double-play, and its fourth inning threat was thwarted on a spectacular, diving catch by center fielder Klinger that robbed Allen of a surefire double to left-center. Swank was again saved by the double-play in the fifth, when he grabbed a line drive by Jack Nonnemacher. In a one-two motion, Swank spun and threw to Sottung at second for the force, who then threw to Deitz for a 1-4-3 double-play.
Great Valley mounted its only scoring on the afternoon on the top of the sixth, when an infield error by Farrow on a grounder by Armando Liberatoscioli scored Barry, who had reached when he was hit with a pitch by Swank. With two on and two out, Deitz replaced Swank on the mound, and promptly struck out Rubin to end the Great Valley scoring threat.
The win could not have had better timing for Avon Grove, who was looking to put out the bad taste of their April 29 loss at Sun Valley that ended their eight-game winning streak. The Red Devils will play at Downingtown West on May 6, and close out their regular season with games at Bishop Shanahan and W.C. Rustin.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .