Let’s just say it was an odd performance Friday for Haverford School in a 6-0 win over Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. There were plenty of good things for the Fords to hang their hats on in a win that helps them in the jockeying for positioning at the top half of the Inter-Ac. But there are also concerns that were clearly illuminated Friday. Some thoughts on both sides.
– Man, was Matt Galetta good. It seems that he’s turned the corner from early-season struggles and is really gaining an understanding of who he is as a pitcher: A somewhat crafty lefty who needs to use his speed (topping out in the low 80s on a good day) as an ancillary weapon rather than his primary mode of attack. His breaking stuff is above average; his ability to deploy it in such a way as to keep hitters off balance is what elevates his game. If Galetta continues to pitch like he has – OK, maybe not 14 straight scoreless innings good, but still – then the Fords have the dangerous 1-2 punch they envisioned early in the season with Pat Valentine plus Connor Burke available as a late-game specialist. It makes them dangerous when the PAISAA Tournament rolls around, though the book isn’t yet closed on the race for the Inter-Ac title.
– You have to credit the Fords’ hustle Friday. They benefited from four errors, but they made the most of them on the basepaths. The play in the fourth inning – when Steve Scornajenghi’s bunt with Chris Sukonik on first led to them standing on second and third – is emblematic of that. Part of that crispness is also a better performance in the field, where the Fords didn’t make an error, including handling six chances on the ground flawlessly, two of which turned into double plays. Adjustments have been made in the infield, with Sukonik and Kevin McGowan swapping second base and shortstop. In truth, the seamless infield at Haverford School, which is just one big artificial carpet, should be conducive to limiting errors.
– The Fords have developed a reputation this season of being a team of sluggers. Having a pair of first baseman/designated hitters in Valentine and Burke in seventh in eighth will do that. It also helps that four of their top six hitters are lefties who get to aim at the short porch on Lancaster Avenue. But the way they won Friday, with little spinners and nubbers and taking what the defense gave them, is an important attribute as well.
– Friday’s game presented an interesting dynamic, quite literally a game within a game. With the first meeting between the teams unresolved, suspended tied at 3 after 11 innings to be made up next week, both teams had a chance to impact two games at once. “We were really pumped coming out here today,” left fielder Drew Field said. “We thought we had a good chance to win the last one and we didn’t finish it. We still have a chance going forward, but we still have to finish it. But this is a big game for us. … I think people have been taking us lightly all year. I don’t know if they have or not. But this makes them takes us seriously, like ‘wow, these guys can play.’”
– While they did play well, there were a ton of guys left on, 13 to be exact in just six trips to the bat, 10 in scoring position. Steve Fitzgerald, for instance, left on six guys. Galetta and Valentine left four each. That’s not the kind of production you want from hitters five through seven. As a team, they went 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position with four walks (and a couple of those were at-bats where they reached on errors). It’s a positive that they created that many scoring opportunities, but that’s not the kind of production they need, no matter how hot the pitching is.