Seven-run first not enough to overcome Garnet Valley
By Mike McGann, Editor, The TImes
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Down four runs before even coming to bat, Unionville High School’s baseball team figured to face a long day in its season opener against rival Garnet Valley.
But then the Indians put up a seven-spot in the bottom half of the inning and it looked like it would be one of those wild, early season games where no lead would be safe. Unfortunately for Unionville, that first inning proved the highlight of the day, in a sloppy, frosty 14-7 loss, Friday.
“The first inning was good, we gave up some runs and bounced right back,” second-year Indians’ head coach Mike Magee said following the game. “But we kind of gave away some at-bats, and we made some little mistakes that turned into big mistakes. You’ve got to make the routine plays.”
Whether it was the cold weather, 42 degrees with a steady 15 MPH wind at game time, or early season jitters, the loss was a team effort, ineffective pitching, shaky infield defense and a lack of timely hitting kept 0-1 Unionville from climbing back in the game, as the Jaguars (1-0) managed to keep adding on and pull away.
In fairness, Garnet Valley brings back much of its 2012 Central League title team, meaning the Indians had little margin for error against one of what will likely be one of the top teams in southeast Pennsylvania in 2013.
And while the Jags were steadier in the field and took advantage of stellar relief pitching by junior Nick Bulisky, who tossed five scoreless innings after taking over for starter Dalton Mayberry, who battled control problems, ultimately it was their ability to swing the bat that made difference.
Garnet Valley amassed 15 hits off the combined pitching of starter Brad Grow (two innings), Kevin Looby (2 ⅓ innings), Andrew Taylor (1 ⅔ innings) and Matt Foster (1 inning), while hold Unionville to just five hits.
Still, there were some bright spots for the Indians, the first of which was, well, the first inning. Combining four hits and five walks — Unionville sent 11 hitters to the plate and the capper came on a two-out single by shortstop Nick Ward, driving in a pair of runs.
Second, Kyle Langerhans looked very sharp behind the plate, literally blocking dozens of pitches in the dirt like a veteran catcher.
“He was outstanding,” Magee said. “He blocked everything behind the plate.”
A third positive, that could be overlooked in light of the score: both Taylor and Foster pitched fairly well in relief, showing why they will anchor the front of the starting rotation. Taylor, a senior, had nasty stuff and came in the fifth and got a pair of strikeouts to quell a Jags rally, and followed with a scoreless sixth. Foster managed to collect three strikeouts in shutting down Garnet Valley in the seventh.
At the plate, the good news was more limited. Langerhans went 3-for-4 with a double to pace the Indians attack.