2016 Delco League All-Star Game

MVP Bosco, National staff take intra-league showdown


By Matthew DeGeorge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.@sportsdoctormd on Twitter

from the daily times POSTED: 

 RADNOR >> When you’re in charge of a 109-year-old league, it takes a little creativity to spice things up and offer something different.

 Delco League president Nick Ducomb pondered in the offseason what nuance he could throw at the league’s all-star game that has seen

its fair share of tinkering down the decades, hoping to come back especially strong after last year’s game was rained out. He finally settled on a

familiar yet fresh plan, taking a tip from the prevailing trend sweeping pro sports’ all-star soirees with rosters drafted like pickup teams.

 “We thought that way guys can play against each other and have a real entertaining element to it,” Ducomb said.

 The result was an intriguing — if pitching-dominated — affair Thursday night, won 2-1 by the National squad coached by Wayne’s Brian Fili

over the American squad piloted by Aston Valley’s Marc Spero at Radnor High School.

Those were about the only distinguishing marks of the teams, which pitted plenty of teammates against each other. That is, except for Wayne

and Aston Valley, the two Delco League rivals whose players were partitioned neatly into separate dugouts around their managers. Both skippers swear that was an unintentional quirk borne of loyalty when they picked the teams a week ago out of a pool of players available on the day.

 The Delco League has toyed with a number of formats through the years, from military appreciation days to games against other leagues like the Perky League and Delaware’s semi-pro league.

 But ahead of a league-wide hiatus for the holiday weekend, Ducomb wanted something different to reward a greater swathe of players for the contributions and generate some excitement. With an odd number of teams and no divisions in the league, he was dissatisfied with schemes to allocate players. So he followed the lead of the NHL and NFL extravaganzas by letting Spero and Fili pick players, schoolyard style.

 The format lent itself to oddities like having both starting pitchers drawn from second-place Narberth — Toby McCart for the Nationals and Marty McKeone for the Americans.

 “They’ve been awesome,” Narberth coach/American outfielder Steve DeBarberie said. “Usually when you think of Narberth, you think of our offense. But our three top pitchers have been stellar, and it’s a big reason why we’re 15-4 right now.”

 It was less fun for DeBarberie when McCart brushed the coach back with a pitch in his first plate appearance, then went to the breaking ball to retire him swinging with a man on third. Springfield’s Eric Berman picked him up, though, singling to score Nate Sides of Concord, who’d doubled to lead off the game, putting American up 1-0.

 National got the run right back when Wayne’s Kevin Mohollen led off with a triple and Narberth’s Sean Spratt lofted a sac fly off his usual teammate McKeone to tie the score at one.

 From there, the pitchers took over. Brian Bosco of Springfield, who won the Top Lumber Bat Company MVP award, was the only one of the National’s six pitchers to work two innings, not allowing a hit while striking out one. Glenn Stanners of Chester, Wayne’s Kyle Menchaca and Springfield’s Joe Samohod each worked scoreless frames, while Matt Briner of Middletown closed it out with a 1-2-3 seventh. They limited American to just three hits.

 Menchaca allowed the only American hit of the last six innings, the second double of the game for Concord’s Sides. But he was gunned out at third by Mohollen from deep right-center field.

 The game was a chance for Bosco, a recent Penn State Brandywine graduate, to play again for Fili, his manager at Strath Haven. Between that and his former high school teammate Mohollen in center, it felt like old times.

 “I loved playing for him in high school,” Bosco said of Fili. “He was probably my favorite coach I ever had. He knows the game better than anyone. And just to hang out in the dugout is probably the best part. His jokes, they never change.”

 Narberth again was at the heart of the winning run, when backup catcher Conor Hinchcliffe doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Upper Darby’s Nick Valori followed with a single, and Hinchcliffe scored the winning run when Wayne’s Bryan Rubin pounded into a double play.

 As players huddled near same-colored jerseys after the game, reuniting with teammates-turned-enemies for one night, the consensus was that the experiment was certainly memorable.

 “It’s awesome and it gets a lot more people involved,” DeBarberie said. “Usually we’ve played the Perky League in the past, but this is a nice little game, in between the season you get to see guys from other teams and play against them and being teammates with some of these different guys is a great experience.”

 “Our players are still some of the best promoters of the league,” Ducomb said. “So when you bring all the guys together like this, you mix them all up like this, they come out for a night like this, they have a good time, a little pageantry, and they take that back to their teams. They take that outside their teams to their leagues, to their friends, to other people in the baseball network. I think it’s good for the league.”