Due to Covid-19, the Inter-Academic League decided to host a postseason tournament for their spring sports which included softball, baseball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys tennis, boys and girls track and field and girls golf.
Seeding for the the Inter-Ac baseball tournament was determined by their coaches and listed below:
By: Cole Nowak
Photos: Mike Nance
MALVERN, PA– There was not a cloud in the sky for Saturday’s Inter-Ac baseball tournament championship game. A large crowd gathered as the No. 1 seed Malvern Prep Friars (26-4) played host to No. 2 seed William Penn Charter Quakers (16-5). This was a highly anticipated match-up coming into Saturday as the teams had previously split the season series.
“It was awesome, we could not have asked for anything more. The buildup made our energy so much higher this season. Everyone was in the same boat in terms of losing a season last year, but to take it home yourself feels so great,” said senior standout and Duke Commit Fran Oschell when expressing the emotion of winning a championship after an unprecedented year.
Penn Charter’s leadoff hitter Jake Siani kicked off the afternoon with an infield single but did not last long on the base paths as Malvern Prep’s starting pitcher Connor Street picked him off to stop any ideas of an early run. He would walk one more in the inning but allowed no hits and no runs to end the top of the first inning scoreless.
Malvern Prep would plate their first run in the bottom of the first aided by miscues from the Quaker defense. PC starting pitcher Danny Will would walk MP’s second batter, Penn State commit Lonnie White, and attempt to pick him off which was followed by an overthrow to second. After White tagged up on a flyout to right, he would score due to an overthrow to first a batter later, which would extend the inning.
The Quakers would tie the game back up at one in the top of the second caused by two walks from Street, which would force a pitching change to bring in senior Scranton commit Dom Chieffalo to close out the inning. He would throw two wild pitches, allowing the Quakers to bring across their first score of the ballgame.
The Friars bats would come alive on the other side of the inning. Lehigh commit Ryan Cochran would jumpstart the inning on a single to center, which would be followed up by Will walking a batter, then hitting one to load up the bases. Freshman Tague Davis would poke one through the middle to score one to pull ahead 2-1, still with no outs.
Will would get the Friars leadoff hitter to pop out to short to record his first out. White would then break the game open for Malvern. After a pass ball that would bring in the Friars third run, White ripped a double to the wall to bring home two more Friar runs and extend the lead to 5-1. White would come in to score on Jimmy Kirk’s single to left to cap off the explosive inning by the Friar offense, 6-1.
“Top to bottom, I don't think anyone in the state has a lineup as deep as ours, they're definitely one of the best lineups we've ever had at Malvern Prep because of all the speed and firepower from top to bottom. I think the biggest thing was we made their pitcher work in the first inning and saw 26 pitches and just continued to control the strike zone and force him to give us pitches we could handle, and it was only a matter of time before we could string some runs together,” said Malvern Prep head coach Fred Hilliard.
“This team scored a lot of runs versus a lot of really good pitchers this year because they trust the next guy in the order enough to pass the baton. Our goal from day one was to be relentless and not allow pitchers to get comfortable or feel like they could take a break and get an easy out, and that's pretty much what they did all year so I'm really proud of them for that and the level of buy-in and trust they had to the plan,” said Hilliard.
The scoring would settle down from there. Malvern would bring in their third pitcher, Cam Marcus who would contribute two strong innings out of the pen allowing no runs and only one hit. PC’s Will would find his rhythm pitching a 1,2,3 third inning. He would allow a single to start the fourth but would get a double play to end the inning and get the Quakers back in the dugout.
The Friars would then turn it over to their top guy Fran Oschell to start the fifth. Oschell would make quick work of the Quaker lineup, facing only six hitters through the fifth and sixth innings keeping the score where it was. PC’s Will continued to grind through the afternoon, getting through the fifth and working into the sixth with two outs. PC’s reliever would make quick work and get a groundout to end the sixth with no runs crossing.
“We wanted to play matchups a bit and were hoping to give them different looks all day until we could get Fran in there. We also have certain guys we like to bring in for a clean inning, (for example) nobody on base vs. other guys that are better at putting out fires and can come in with men on the bases. Ultimately, it was just about figuring out how to keep them off balance and get 12-15 outs until we could go to our top guy,” said Hilliard.
The Quakers would not rollover in the seventh. With two outs, PC had runners on first and third when Duke commit Vince Fattore scorched a double in the gap to score both Quaker baserunners and cut the deficit to 6-3. Oschell would walk another, bringing the tying run to the plate.
“Honestly, I was looking to just get outs. End of the game, I was just trying to close things out. Get the dog pile going. My teammates made a lot of great plays behind me, it was great coming in with a lead. My teammates really did a great job, in conjunction with a great game plan from the coaches,” said Oschell.
Ultimately, Oschell would win the battle and force a groundout to shortstop Cam Conley who would rifle a throw to first to record the final out and initiate a dog pile the Friars had been waiting for.
“This was the most special group of guys I have ever played with, from top to bottom. Every single guy came in ready to compete every single day. I can honestly say I look at all these guys as my brothers and I would do anything for them. Defiantly was a special group,” said Oschell.
A special group indeed.