Avon Grove breezes to playoff win, 7-0
05/31/2016 02:13PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
Just moments after he spoke to his players following his team's crushing 7-0 victory over Central Bucks East on May 27, Avon Grove head coach Mike Deluzio leaned against the protective fence of the dugout. Although it was just the latest rung climbed in a season of many rungs, the moment deserved reflection, and Deluzio spoke eloquently about his team.
“This is something we talked about from the beginning, of creating an atmosphere and a chemistry that developed into a 'no-die' culture,” Deluzio said. “At first, people didn't all buy into the system, but day by day, game by game, it started to seep in. As they bought into the system, they realized that the system will carry them, and this is the end result.”
Behind pitcher Maggie Balint's 14-strikeout, one-hit performance and a timely collection of clutch hitting, the No. 2-seeded Red Devils moved to the semifinal round of the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs, against No. 19-seed West Chester East on May 31. (The game began too late for this edition.)
As has generally become the working plan of this year's Avon Grove team, all Balint's teammates need to do is get her one run and she'll take care of the rest. A look at the game's line score demonstrated a shared responsibility on offense, as eight Red Devils recorded at least one hit, but Allyson Wallauer's double in the third may have been the most important hit.
After Megan DeFeo and Balint knocked back-to-back singles with two away in the third inning, Wallauer clubbed a double to right-center to score two against Central Bucks West starter Theresa Haus. The Red Devils tacked on three more runs in their fifth, that began with Meghan Nolan's lead-off double. Nolan then went to third on DeFeo's sacrifice bunt. Balint was then hit by a pitch and replaced by designated runner Becca LeStourgen. Wallauer's drag bunt down the third base line was ruled a fair ball, sending LeStourgen to third. She then came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Rachel Butler. A single by Camryn Laterza then drove in Wallauer, and that gave Avon Grove a 5-0 lead.
In the sixth, a two-out bloop single by Butler drove in the final two runs for Avon Grove.
In what was her final game on Avon Grove's home field, Balint was spectacular on the mound, striking out eight of the first nine batters to the plate and not giving up a walk the entire game. Her only trouble came in the fourth, when Hailey Aspinal led off the inning with a triple to right field. But in true Balint fashion, she left Aspinal helpless at third, as she mowed down the next three hitters on strikeouts.
“We knew that we had one of the best pitchers – if not the best pitcher -- in the state, with Maggie,” Deluzio said. “What we asked the girls to do was play a role. We gave them a role, we explained that role to them, and then we asked them to fulfill that role. It's all about doing what you need to when you're up at bat to make our team winning, whether it's bunting or running the bases. You need to do your job. This is a team.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.