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BASEBALL: Malvern Prep Enjoys Nine Run First Inning, Defeating Perkiomen 13-4 to Clinch Second Consecutive PAISAA Title

By Jeremy Goode. Photos: Kathy Leister, 05/30/24, 12:00PM EDT


2024 PAISAA Baseball Champions - Malvern Prep - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister

Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister & Jeremy Goode

By: Jeremy Goode

COLLEGEVILLE, PA--The Malvern Prep Friars came out swinging in the PAISAA championship game against the Perkiomen Panthers.


If there was ever a question of who was the best baseball team in Pennsylvania, Malvern Prep answered it quickly against Perkiomen, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the first and beating the Lions 13-4 for their second PAISAA championship in a row. 

“We were able to see their starter earlier in the year, so second time through we were able to prepare a little bit better for him and what he does,” Friars’ head coach Freddy Hilliard said. “We said, ‘let’s go attack, he’s going to be around the strike zone, look for pitches to hit,’ and we hit them.”

Even for the Friars high-powered offense, that might be an understatement. Jonathan Holt kicked off the scoring with a double to right center field, giving the Friars a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Grant Kennedy launched a single off the left field wall, scoring two and giving the Friars a quick five run led. 

The Friars batted through the lineup, and Tague Davis really broke open the game with a double down the right field line that scored two and improved the Friars’ lead to 8-0. They would tack on one more run in that bottom half of the first. 

“We work the plate and just try to be dogs out there,” Davis said. “Battle everything; we call it ‘marbles in a jar,’ see what the pitcher has. We just try to be dogs out there and that’s how it turned out.”

Malvern Prep senior pitcher, Tague Davis #13 - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister

In all, the first inning took nearly 50 minutes. And that was after the Panthers were able to record an out two batters into the game. 

The nine runs would be plenty for Davis to work with as the starting pitcher for the Friars. Indeed, Hilliard said that they generally feel good giving Davis three to four runs to work with, so doubling that target run production in the first inning certainly enough for Davis, who as a two-way pitcher/first baseman is committed to play at Louisville in the fall. 

Davis dealt, throwing four scoreless innings and maintaining control throughout the 12 outs he recorded without any real scoring threat. But even after his strong outing, Davis addressed the challenge he faced in the Panthers’ lineup as a difficult one. 

“I just tried to fill it up… they have a good lineup; not a lot of easy outs,” Davis said. “So, I tried to fill up the zone, throw some strikes, and get my team back in the dugout.”

Junior second baseman Andrew Pellicciotta made the most of his at bats, going 3-3 while scoring three times, hitting in four runs, including a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to give the Friars a commanding 12-0 lead. He would also finish the game getting on base a total of four times with a walk. Out of the Friars’ 13 runs, Pellicciotta had a role in seven of them, proving to be a threat both at the plate and on the base paths. 

After a scoreless second inning, Pellicciotta knew it was important to keep the pressure on the Panthers. 


Junior Andrew Pellicciotta Scored 3 times and had 4 RBI's in PAISAA Championship Game. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

For him, that meant adding more runs, which he did in the third inning with a three-run homerun. 

“It was definitely great to add onto our nine-run inning after the first,” Pellicciotta said. “Kind of just a curveball over the plate and put a good swing on it.”

With the score still 12-0 in favor of the Friars in the top of the fifth, Davis would walk onto the mound one last time as a high school pitcher. The hard throwing lefty would get the Panthers’ Gavin Feulner to hit a tough grounder to second base, on which Feulner was able to beat Pellicciotta’s throw to first. 

Hilliard then walked to the mound, relieving Davis after his strong outing and four years of contributions to the program. He was hailed by the Friar fans in attendance, as hundreds of fans in navy blue stood and gave the senior a standing ovation. Davis was not the only senior for whom Hilliard would give a curtain call. He also pulled the seniors and juniors who started for the Friars, leaving the diamond filled with sophomores. 

What would make Davis’ performance even more impressive was the fact that the game was delayed by two hours, for which neither team had advance notice.  

No umpires were scheduled for the PAISAA championship game. A little bit of unusual “adversity” thrown both teams’ way, as Davis put it. 

Regardless, Davis stayed loose and let his arm do the talking, as it has for so many years for the Friars. 

“It says a lot about Tague,” Hilliard said. “He got hot; then the game was delayed, and then we had to get him re-hot again. And that’s hard for any kid; that’s hard for a major leaguer. But he fought through it; did what he does all year long, and was our horse.”

Junior Andrew Pellicciotta led Malvern Prep to dominate win and lauded his senior teammates for their guidance and leadership. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

Pitcher Tague Davis ends senior year with State Championship and takes in the moment to describe what it has been like playing for Malvern. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

Pellicciotta had a solid view from second base behind Davis on the mound, so his performance in the state championship game was nothing new for him or his teammates. 

“No surprise there from Tague, he’s been doing it all year,” Pellicciotta said. “Obviously, he’s been our fire on offense and defense this season, and throughout his whole career. He did great today and what we needed him to do.”

After Davis came out, things would get a bit “hairy” according to Hilliard, as the Panthers scored four runs in the top of the fifth. This prevented the game to end there if the Friars had held the Panthers to even two runs to invoke a 10-run mercy rule. 

Hilliard acknowledged that the game finishing in seven innings when it could have in five “was on him,” because of his substitutions. But he felt it was important for the team to give Davis the curtain call he deserved, as well as to give other guys a chance to play in the championship game with such a big lead. 

Reflecting on his decision to pull the starters in the fifth, Hilliard even joked, “we got to play more baseball out of it.”

Jack Ploszay finished off the game on the mound, throwing two innings, striking out three and giving up no runs. 

The Friars finished the season with 34 wins, the most they ever had under Hilliard. They were undefeated In their 18 games at home, and they outscored their opponents 295-76, all statistics that helped lead to their 10thstate championship. 

A year ago, the Friars retained the PAISAA trophy. To be in the same spot a year later? Special.

“Our guys set goals… they wanted to be back here, they wanted to have that celebration again,” Hilliard said. “We talked about getting a 30-win season which we accomplished… winning our league; which we accomplished… getting back here and winning this…. So, check, check, check.” 

This Friars’ team was close. Led by seven seniors, the 2024 class earned four league championships and two state championships.

Malvern Prep Wins 2024 PAISAA Championship. (video/ Jeremy Goode for PSD)

Malvern Prep senior class - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister

After the team repeated and met with Hilliard and the Friars coaching staff, the Malvern Prep team took 15 minutes to congratulate, embrace, and take pictures with one another. Tears flowed, smiles were not scarce. Everyone understood the tradition of baseball excellence at Malvern Prep, and while they were able to continue the trend and notch more memorable years that will forever represent championships, it is the togetherness that sticks out with this Friar team. 

“For me, it all comes down to one word and that’s brotherhood,” Davis said. “We come in to Malvern; we’re just a bunch of guys. We come out of Malvern; we’re brothers for life. You don’t really expect it to hit that hard, especially when it’s all over. For this school to keep the winning respect that we have… brotherhood and coaching.”