For six innings, there didn’t look like there’d be much to write about a blowout win for Strath Haven over Radnor Tuesday. Then things got interesting in a hurry, the tying run getting as close as the on-deck circle in the seventh inning as the Panthers hung on for a 7-3 win.
So some odds and ends from what didn’t make the print cut.
– Billy Greenfield’s line – 4 innings pitched, four hits, four runs, three earned, three walks, eight strikeouts – didn’t exactly flatter him. But the lanky Radnor left hander’s stats outside the disastrous third inning didn’t look bad: Two hits, no runs, six Ks. Early in the season, it was probably wise not to push him much past that disastrous 40-pitch third. But a lot of Greenfield’s stuff was working. He induced six swing-and-misses. Four of his eight strikeouts were looking, the Haven hitters struggling to pick up the cutter and two-seamer he used to ride in on the hands of righties. If he can more adeptly blend and locate his off-speed pitches, he could avoid some of the trouble he got into Tuesday.
– I’m not pointing fingers, but the third-inning rally that spelled the early end to Greenfield’s day could’ve been circumvented. The frame started out with Nate Engleka’s double over the head of center fielder Connor Wilson in which Wilson turned the wrong way. Had Wilson played it better – or had Greenfield been more clinical in handling the nine-hitter – the kindling for the rally may not have been placed. Back-to-back walks to Kevin Mohollen and David Splain doused that in gasoline. By the time Caedon Saltis laced his double down the line, it was aflame.
– I discussed the day of Haven starter Donovan Davis at length in the game story. But it’s worth mentioning that he hasn’t given up a run in 11 consecutive innings. He’s developing into the kind of ace that Haven is looking for.
– Speaking of developing arms, you have to be impressed by what Ashton Raines did. He came in out of the bullpen, runners at first and third, the potential tying run on deck, and struck out two straight batters to clean up Jack Welden’s mess. Not only does he get the outs needed, he did so after tough at-bats. The Panthers have big aspirations this season; a guy who can get high-pressure outs late in games could go a long way toward achieving them.
– When you really boil it down, this game came down to a tale of two halves … of the third inning. Consider how Radnor started its inning, beginning with the eight-hitter: fly out, single, walk, groundout, walk. Davis then got Adam Erkis to ground out to third to end the threat. Radnor, like Haven, is the kind of team that is top heavy in the lineup, the drop off coming after the first five or six hitters. When those bottom-of-the-order guys get on, it has to translate into runs. Radnor didn’t Tuesday; Haven did.
– That third inning was the second time that he Red Raiders stranded the bases loaded (they did the same in the sixth). In all Radnor left nine men on base, seven of them in scoring position.
– Saltis deserves credit for his two hits and three RBIs, but he also managed to force the issue in the third with his legs, a part of the game that the burly first baseman isn’t known for. He got a good jump on Greenfield to steal second, then popped up to scamper home when the throw went into the outfield. “That surprised some people,” Saltis said, laughing. “I’ve been trying to run a little bit more. I certainly don’t look fast, but I try to catch some people off guard.”
– It didn’t look like it would matter much, but Strath Haven coach Brian Fili did a great job dialing up pinch hitters in a sixth inning that appeared academic but ended up being vital. James Kantner delivered an RBI double then scored on Mohollen’s double. And Mike Viggiano delivered a single. Such offensive depth bodes well.
– How about a defensive plaudit? Matt Raimo made a nice diving catch for Strath Haven in left field, denying Josh Katz a base hit in the second inning.