Befitting the chaos it took to actually get on the diamond this spring, the early returns from the Delco baseball contingent is conflicting, to say the least. Through three weeks (only two of which really involved playable fields), there’s little consensus to glean from the performances of the Central League squads, and while the Catholic League teams appear solid relative to their fellow Delco opponents, they’re finding it tough sledding in a Catholic League that is all one division this season. In the early-season inconsistency plaguing many teams, it’s no surprise to see such tumult in the Super 7 this week, where only four of the teams ranked in the preseason hold their spots. Here’s the rundown for this week. (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through Sunday, April 12.)
1. Haverford School 11-1 Last Week: No. 3
The Fords’ only loss came in their fourth game in two days in Orlando, losing 3-2 to Niles North of Illinois. Given some of the stumbles by teams behind them, it’s hardly a regrettable loss. Locally, the Fords have eked out one-run wins over La Salle and Episcopal Academy and a two-run triumph over Garnet Valley. It seems the Fords haven’t yet settled on an ace as in previous years, but they have groomed enough serviceable arms to take a communal approach that has been effective thus far.
2. Episcopal Academy 9-6 Last Week: NR
EA’s candidacy has taken a hit by losing four of five. Three of those losses, though, have come in Saturday doubleheaders against the likes of Jersey power Bishop Eustace, St. Joseph’s Prep (though they beat Prep a week ago) and Harriton. Manager Mike Hickey’s tactic seems to be to test his team often, and the early results are promising. They played Haverford School to within a run in a game that could’ve looked much different if not for Kevin McGowan bashing a pair of homers over the Fords’ short porch, then blanked Germantown Academy, 8-0, behind a Cam Van Hoorebeke gem.
3. Archbishop Carroll 5-4 Last Week: NR
The Patriots are another team that started strong on its preseason trip (to South Carolina) and has collected a few impressive wins in Pennsylvania. Carroll has claimed Ws against Bonner-Prendergast and La Salle, with Max Frederick on the mound for both, and their record would look drastically different if they could’ve generate some offense in 1-0 losses to EA and Archbishop Ryan.
4. Penncrest 3-2 Last Week: No. 2
Let’s start trying to unravel the mystery that is the Central League. Penncrest got trounced by Marple Newtown, dominated Harriton, Strath Haven and Radnor, the got shut out by Springfield. The Springfield game was a third in four days, and the unfortunate implication for the Lions is that the Cougars possess more pitching depth. The fact is that the Lions’ bats aren’t in gear yet, and while Matt Briner (emerging as the staff ace after blanking Harriton and shutting down Haven) and Rob Brown are doing the job on the mound, the Lions need a third hurler to emerge … or at least for a little offense to paper over the cracks.
5. Bonner-Prendergast 4-3 Last Week: No. 1
Losses of 3-1 to St. Joe’s Prep and 5-2 to Carroll got their Catholic League slate off on the wrong foot, but they’ve since righted the ship with wins over Malvern Prep and Roman Catholic. If there’s a spark to be found, it likely comes from Richie Tecco and Steve Furman, who are batting a combined 9-for-39 (.231) on the young season.
6. Marple Newtown 3-3 Last Week: NR
Here’s another up-and-down team that makes the rankings by beating both Penncrest and Strath Haven. The Tigers have just four runs in the last four games, getting goose-egged by Harriton and Phoenixville. It’s a good thing that the pitching staff, led by Ricky Collings and Grant Wallace, has allowed just 13 runs in six games.
7. Strath Haven 3-3 Last Week: No. 4
Speaking of offensive challenges, the Panthers were held to one run or fewer in three of their first five games and seemed headed to a fourth such instance before exploding for an 11-spot in the seventh inning against Radnor Saturday. They’ve had solid pitching performances (Matt Eiel’s six innings of two-run ball against Marple foremost among them) that have been wasted, and someone other than James Kantner and Corey Ziring has to step up and consistently deliver offense.
Dropped out: Cardinal O’Hara, Garnet Valley, Radnor
Honorable Mention: Haverford (3-2, they trounced Garnet Valley and went into the seventh leading Conestoga, but a 2-0 loss against Ridley gives pause in valuing the Fords too highly, though they’re in every game where Scott McKenna is on the hill); Garnet Valley (2-3, while Penncrest, Marple and Haven struggle to find offense, they may consider trying to borrow some from the Jags, who have scored 12 runs or more in three of their five games. Now the wait for pitching is on); Radnor (2-3, Garrett McGurl threw a shutout against Springfield and Charlie Connolly was superb in his first varsity start before things hit the fan against Haven, easing concerns of who logs innings when Sean Corelli can’t); Springfield (2-4, the Cougars have played one game (a 7-5 loss to Harriton) that featured more than seven total runs. In the offensively-challenged Central League, the Cougars’ could consistently scrape together enough hits to support their quickly-maturing pitching staff); Interboro (5-0, the Bucs have breezed through the first turn of the Del Val League, though with the group assembled, I doubt that’s the standard by which they’re measured. They’ll need to go outside the league – a difficult proposition given all the rainouts – to move up); Cardinal O’Hara (3-4, the Lions have just one run in their last three games. It’s been a tough slate featuring Penn Charter, Malvern Prep and La Salle, but getting no-hit by the Explorers still stings).