A three-game week in the Central League has revealed plenty – mainly that those teams continue to beat up on each other so that no one will possibly challenge Conestoga, still undefeated in the league, for the title. That means that teams slide down the standings this week, though there’s still a general lack of teams to rise up into those spots, with the Catholic League contingent finding that league tough sledding as well. Here’s the hierarchy this week, which appeared in the paper alongside this week’s notebook feature on Garnet Valley’s Griffin Morandini. (Records based on games reported to the Daily Times through April 19.)
1. Haverford School (13-2) Last Week: No. 1
The Fords dropped an Inter-Ac decision to Springside Chestnut Hill last week, but they’ve still been able to accumulate results. I’m not sure what to make of their recent power streak: They’ve been very reliant on homers, first from Kevin McGowan, then Nick Greco and Brian Hyland, which may be partially dependent on their small home field. Nonetheless, this is a fearsome lineup, especially if it’s not an all-or-nothing approach at more spacious fields.
2. Archbishop Carroll (7-4) Last week: No. 3
The Patriots move up a spot as much for lack of other options as their recent success, highlighted by a 10-9 thriller against Cardinal O’Hara. Carroll stands at 4-2 in the Catholic League, and while they might not be in the upper echelon of the league quite yet (getting past Neumann-Goretti, Archbishop Wood and others would change that), they certainly are well-positioned to make a run at them.
3. Penncrest (5-3) Last Week: No. 4
The Lions are the poster children for the Central League’s inconsistencies. They beat a bunch of a good teams – Harriton, Strath Haven, Radnor – then lose to Springfield (thanks to a Ben Thorpe gem) and count an opening-day loss to Marple Newtown as an increasingly unsightly blemish. The key, it seems, is getting the offense going. Penncrest has produced runs in fits and starts, but it hasn’t been enough to consistently back Matt Briner and Rob Brown on the mound
4. Bonner-Prendergast (6-4) Last Week: No. 5
The fact that the Friars’ two biggest wins are nonleague triumphs (over Malvern Prep and Penn Charter) isn’t exactly encouraging. It’s again a question of getting the bats going. Bonner-Prendie has been held to three runs or fewer on six occasions this season, including four times in Catholic League encounters. The fact that they’re 2-4 in those three-runs-or-less outings is indicative of the pitching staff’s growth, but it’s time for the lineup to perk up and take some of the heat off.
5. Episcopal Academy (9-10) Last Week: No. 2
The good news is that those nine wins means that the Churchmen have exceeded last season’s total. The bad news is that they’ve lost six straight and eight of nine; at least that one was in the Inter-Ac. There’s only so much criticism you can lob at the Churchmen because of how tough their schedule is (it’s tougher, by a ways I think, than Haverford School’s). We’ll see if those lessons will pay off with a righting of the ship this week.
6. Haverford (6-3) Last Week: NR
I had my questions about Haverford, ones I figured would require more evidence. The results are in, and they look favorable. The three losses are by a combined four runs. Throw out the 2-0 dud against Ridley, and those setbacks are each one-run defeats to Conestoga and Harriton, teams that played for state titles last season. They have a great arm in Scott McKenna to lead the staff, a bevy of capable arms behind, and the lineup features several hot bats, including Nick Cerelli, Dylan Resnick and Tom Leonard. On the offense alone (the Fords have scored eight or more runs in five games), the Fords are ahead of most of the Central League.
7. Strath Haven (5-4) Last Week: No. 7
The Panthers, as they always seem to, gave Conestoga a run for its money last week, but couldn’t quite get to the Pioneers in a 3-1 loss. In the Panthers’ four losses, they have scored three total runs. This is an opportunistic team, and the bats of Will Carey, Ashton Raines and Casey Rosier showing up lately are a big boon if they hope to force their way into the conversation for second in the Central League.
Dropped out: Marple Newtown
Honorable mention: Cardinal O’Hara (5-6, you figure out the Lions: Lose five straight, scoring one run combined over the first three, then beat Conestoga last Friday and destroy Interboro, 10-0, Saturday. The offense returning to life is a very good sign); Radnor (4-4, I’m not going to shock anyone by calling a Mark Jordan team plucky, but the Raiders going 2-1 over a stretch of three-straight one-run games is still exemplary, even if the loss to Lower Merion in the middle is regrettable); Marple Newtown (4-5, Upper Darby is much improved this season under Grant Kernaghan’s guidance, but the Tigers can’t lose to them if they want to be in conversation of the Central League’s best. Losing 3-1 to Upper Darby, then 2-0 to Conestoga could be one of the most puzzling juxtapositions of results this season); Springfield (4-5, The Cougars have scored 20 runs this season. I know Thorpe, Jimmy Reardon and company are talented arms, but they could use a little help); Interboro (7-1, the Bucs failed their first nonleague test of the season against O’Hara Saturday, and with No. 1 starter Jason Lincoln getting saddled with the loss, that might be reason for concern); Garnet Valley (2-6, the Jags just have so little pitching. They cling to the bottom of the HM category on reputation and the belief that the lineup might bash its way to a better record soon).