Aston Valley 11, Chester 0

Aston Valley makes statement over familiar foe Chester

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ASTON >> The defending Delco League baseball champions made a statement Friday.

Danny Hyatt pitched five strong innings, and Max Carney went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Aston Valley Knights to an 11-0 win over Chester.

That sets up a huge end-of-regular season showdown Sunday with — stop me if you’ve seen Groundhog Day — Chester.

If Aston defeats Chester and Narberth loses to Marple Newtown, the Knights (18-8-1) get a bye in the first round of the playoffs along with regular-season champion Wayne.

If Narberth (18-7-2) defeats Marple, they get the bye. Narberth beat Middletown, 5-3, Friday.

And don’t count Chester out. Chester can make its first playoff appearance in three years if it beats Aston Valley to leap-frog Springfield for the sixth and final playoff spot. The reward would be a three-game playoff series with ... yes, Aston.

Did we mention that thunderstorms are forecast for Sunday right around the schedule 5 p.m. first pitch?

“If they get the win, if we lose to them and I’ve got to play them in the first round, I want to let them know they’ve got to compete against us,” Knights manager Marc Spero said. “It’s very important for us. Each one of these games matter to us. We’re playing it like we’re ready to play in the playoffs. You look at the whole season and you wish you had one more win in there and you don’t have to worry about this. But that’s just the way it goes. That’s baseball.”

Chester and starting pitcher Glenn Stanners trailed, 3-0, entering the bottom of the third inning Friday. In a matter of minutes the game slipped away, Carney doubling twice in the frame, driving in two runs with one of the two-baggers off reliever Nate Forwood to give the Knights a 10-0 bulge.

“It’s easy for guys like me when you have guys around you like Rob Caruso and Sam Farnell, who have been around, and just consistently swing the bat,” Carney said. “And definitely a lot easier when you have a guy like Danny on the mound. You just go up there with a free mind and swing the bat.

“Yeah, it’s been tough as defending champs. We’ve had a tough year. We’ve lost some guys to summer ball teams. You have a target on your back. Everybody is coming at you. Upper Darby, Narberth, Wayne, they’re all coming at you no matter what – with their ace. Especially when you won in the fashion we did — with loud mouths.”

Rob Caruso and Matt Domian drove in two runs each for the Knights. Hyatt meanwhile was locating his fastball, changeup and curveball. He allowed just four hits.

“I felt pretty good,” Hyatt said. “I threw my fastball mainly. I threw my changeup a lot. And my curve ball felt pretty good, too.

“We feel pretty confident now. Hopefully if we can get another win and get a little help, then maybe we can sneak in there, get the No. 2 seed and a bye.”

Chester has one more chance to build on the big victories it’s had this season, including a romp over Aston Valley a few weeks ago.

“We’ve played well against a couple of the top teams,” Chester manager Dan McShane said. “We can play with anybody on any night. Today was an aberration for our pitchers and a lot of balls just found holes. It was one of those nights.

“I think we’re a much better team than our record although we sure didn’t show that tonight. The way it boils down is Aston is playing for a bye and we’re playing for a slot on Sunday night at 5. We’ll be ready. Our playoff starts on Sunday.”

Aston Valley obviously prefers a little rest and relaxation before the playoffs start. Those luxuries come with the bye. They still have time to make that happen. The last time they looked, there were games to be played.

“The bye is definitely big,” Carney said. “We had it last year and I think just getting that bye would be huge. Any given night, you don’t know. We played this team I think a week ago and we lost. You want to get that assurance you’re at least playing in the second round because any team on any given night can really beat somebody.”

Said Hyatt, “We won the whole thing so we know we can beat anyone, we know we can hang with anyone.

“We’re all excited and ready to go.”