Narberth 10, Concord 1

Narberth sends clear message in Delco League rout of Concord

By Matt Smith, Delaware County Daily Times

from the daily times POSTED: 

Steve DeBarberie received three text messages from his top three pitchers Friday afternoon. 

It’s a reassuring feeling for a manager, knowing that you can rely on your three bulldogs in a must-win spot. Narberth was a win away from advancing to the Delco League finals. The Mudcats were poised to conquer Concord in Game 5 of a Delco League semifinal series at Narberth Playground Friday night.

 While Toby MacCart, Marty McKeone and Ryan Haley were all itching to take the hill, it was MacCart’s turn in the rotation. MacCart kept the Mudcats competitive in what became a 10-1 Narberth rout.

But waiting in the wings was McKeone, who twirled a 100-pitch gem in Game 3 back on Tuesday night. But pitching on short rest was not an issue.

MacCart exited after four gutsy innings of work. He gave up a run on four hits with three walks while striking out two.

McKeone warmed up twice in the bullpen. He was ready to take the ball and dominate.

“I just wanted to carry things over from the last game I pitched,” McKeone said. “Especially since we lost our last game, I knew I had to pitch well. I just had to be ready and willing to throw.”

McKeone faced 10 batters and retired nine of them. It should have been nine, but Concord’s Bryan Kirk worked a two-out walk in the top of the seventh inning.

“It was a strike,” McKeone said of the pitch he threw to Kirk, with a full count. “I couldn’t have split the plate any better than I did.”

No worries. McKeone got John Convery to bounce out to second base for the final out.

After MacCart left the game, Narberth plated nine unanswered runs to give McKeone the well-deserved win in relief.

“He’s a battler,” McKeone said of MacCart. “I knew I was coming in, I was ready. It was a team effort, anyways.”

The Mudcats, who took first place in the regular season, will try to defend their Delco League championship with a best-of-5 series against No. 2 Aston Valley. Game 1 is scheduled for 2 Sunday afternoon at Narberth Playground.

“For us, it really doesn’t matter who we play,” McKeone said. “We know it’s going to be a good series.”

What was shaping up to be a tight finish in Game 5 quickly turned into a laugher in the fifth inning, when Narberth sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs on four hits. Concord starter Andrew Belfiglio was cruising along until nine-hole hitter and catcher Steve Furman, one of several Bonner & Prendergast grads on the Mudcats, stroked a single to center field.

“It’s not always easy coming up with no outs and no real runs to drive in,” said Furman, who finished 2-for-3. “I know the top of our order has been brutal against teams all years so I was trying to get something going. We didn’t have many hits before the fifth inning. I wanted to try and get something going, and I knew the big dogs coming up would take care of the rest.”

Leadoff hitter Sean Spratt drove in courtesy runner Matt DeBarberie with a triple to the gap in left-center. Kevin McGowan followed with an RBI three-bagger.. Narberth struck for two runs on three hits to begin the fifth inning, which spelled the end of the night for Belfiglio, who allowed only a hit through four innings before everything came undone in a blink of an eye.

“I think, for the whole series, they were riding the fact that they were hanging with us a little bit too long,” said Furman, who is a rising sophomore at Iona College. “Once we got on top of them, we took control and it went right downhill for them from there.”

Narberth tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning against relievers Nate Sides and Kirk. Brian Meagher blasted a two-run double and Ryan Tecco doubled in a run.

“Last time we played them, when Belfiglio pitched, he no-hit us through six (innings),” said Steve DeBarberie, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI single. “We had to get things going a little. Furman came up big. My brother, Matt, has good wheels and we use him whenever we have to pinch run for the catcher. Spratt and Kev put together good at bats and we just took off from there.”

This was an unusual series in terms of the final scores. Game 1 was closely contested, with Narberth posting an 8-5 victory. The rest of the series featured four consecutive blowouts. Concord won Games 2 and 4 by a combined score of 27-6. Narberth outscored Concord in Games 3 and 5, 18-2.

“It was like that the whole series,” DeBarberie said. “Whoever got the momentum … the other team just laid over. We don’t really do that, but when they got up big on us, we kind of just died. The same thing for us in Games 1 and 3. We jumped out and had all the momentum. That’s baseball.”

Haley’s services on the mound weren’t needed Friday. But DeBarberie heard Haley’s text message, loud and clear. Haley will take the bump to kick off the championship series Sunday afternoon.

“It’s good to be back to defend our title,” DeBarberie said. “We know what it takes. We got a good mix of veterans and college kids. We feel like we are a better team this year than we were last year, so we like our chances.”