Aston Valley 8, Wayne 2

Hyatt checks in to help Aston Valley close out Wayne


When Dan Hyatt pitched for the Wilmington University baseball team in the spring, he was a closer.

When Aston Valley Knights player/coach Steve Maloney handed Hyatt the ball for Game 4 of the Knights’ Delco League semifinal series against Wayne at Villanova Ballpark Thursday night, the hope was that the young right-hander could keep Aston Valley in the game long enough for the Knights’ bats to earn a win and a couple of days off before the playoff finals begin Sunday afternoon.

“This was my first start,” said Hyatt, a product of Wilmington’s Conrad High — the school that turned out former Phillies manager Dallas Green — said. “After the first inning things got a little better.”

Hyatt gave up three hits in the first, including a two-run homer to right field by designated hitter Bryan Rubin. He worked six innings, and the only other Wayne hit off him was James Kantner’s second of the game, which came with one out in the fourth inning, as Aston Valley advanced with an 8-2 win.

Hyatt threw 80 pitches in the winning effort, 55 for strikes.

“I used my fastball, and my change was my go-to pitch,” he said. “I just wanted to keep the ball in the zone. I had a couple of low pitch innings (eight in the third, nine in the fifth), and that really helped.”

He got errorless defensive support from his teammates, with shortstop Jarad Carney throwing out five of the last six batters that Hyatt retired.

“I told him what a great job he did out there,” Hyatt said.

Aston Valley didn’t wait long to counter Wayne’s two-run first inning. In the top of the second, Sam Farnell was hit by a pitch and Frank Nigro singled. Matt Domian moved the runners up with a bunt before the first of four Wayne errors sent two unearned runs across the plate.

Rob Caruso got the first of his two run-scoring singles in the third to put the Knights ahead, and Nick Macey had a run-scoring double. A hit batter, a walk and another error helped Aston Valley push two more runs across as the Knights knocked starter Reilly Degen out of the game in the fourth inning.

Caruso had another hit to drive in a run, and another crossed on a bad throw in the Knights’ sixth inning.

“Bringing in all the young players we did this year was exactly what we needed,” said Caruso, who played at Northern Burlington (N.J.) High and Ursinus College. “Every one of them really wants to be here and comes to play every day.

“It’s great playing with guys like that who have this much passion for the game. (Hyatt) pitched a great game and really came back after giving up that home run.”

Aston Valley, which is looking for its first playoff title since 2013, ended Wayne’s bid for a third championship in four seasons. The Knights await the winner of Friday’s game between the defending champion Narberth Mudcats and the Concord Canes to learn whether they will open the finals at Jim Buggy Memorial Field in Aston or at Narberth Field Sunday.

“It’s nice to get out of this series and know that we’ll be back in the finals again,” Maloney said. “It’s been great the way our younger guys have come along and played so well together. It was just what Rob, Sam and I needed.

“This reminds me of what it was like for us about six years ago. We just don’t ever want the other teams to forget about us.”