Aston Valley 4, Narberth 3

Aston Valley exploits errant throw, now one win away from Delco League title


ASTON >> Years from now Jarad Carney may recall how he produced the winning run in Aston Valley’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Narberth in Game 3 of the Delco League championship series.

Carney may or may not leave out the part that the winning run came in on a throwing error with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday night at Buggy Field. All stories get embellished as time passes. 

Either way, neither Carney nor his teammates are complaining since the victory gave the Knights a 2-1 lead in the series and puts Aston Valley within one win of its sixth title in franchise history and first since 2013. The Knights can wrap up the title with a win Thursday night at Buggy Field (5:45 p.m.).

“They’re a great team,” Carney said of the Mudcats. “They’re the defending champions for a reason, so in a game like this you have to take it any way you get it.”

The throwing error by Narberth shortstop Richie Tecco chased home Dan Hyatt and Nick Macey with the final two runs in a four-run rally by the Knights that broke up what had been a scoreless pitchers’ duel between Aston Valley’s Zach Youngberg and Narberth’s Toby MacCart.

The boot loomed even larger when Narberth third baseman Joe Lake blasted a three-run homer over the right field fence in the sixth inning, the first dinger of the series, to cut Aston Valley’s lead to a single run.

“I have to make that play,” Tecco said. “That’s a play you should make and I didn’t make it. Now we have to win the next two. That’s it.”

Narberth did that a year ago, beating Wayne in Games 4 and 5 to win its first championship in franchise history. So consider this series far from over.

“We’re not out of it,” Narberth player-manager Steve DeBarberie said. “We’re going to keep fighting. That was a tough error there that scored two runs. That was the difference in the game. Richie’s played great for us all year.”

Lake’s homer ruined Youngberg’s shutout bid, but did not spoil what was a fine six-inning performance by the crafty lefty. He struck out four of the first seven batters he faced and then settled in and pitched to contact the way he has throughout his career.

Youngberg got defending league MVP Mike White to fly out with runners at second and third to end the third inning. He then coaxed Sean Spratt and Kevin McGowan on back-to-back fly balls in the top of the fifth inning with Steve Furman at second and Tecco at first.

“I’m not a hard thrower,” Youngberg said. “It’s one of those things where I try to pitch to contact to keep my pitch count down. That way I can last innings.”

The only mistake he made was a four-seam fastball to Lake in the fifth inning.

 “It was right down the middle,” Youngberg said.

 Youngberg threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes, but needed a little help from the bullpen to get the win after he walked Tecco on four pitches to start the seventh inning. The Knights turned to third baseman Hyatt, who racked up seven saves as the closer at Wilmington University.

The hard-throwing righty did not mess around. He threw nine pitches, all strikes, to nail down the save.

“I like the pressure situations,” Hyatt said. “I like being challenged.”

The task for the Knights was to find a way to beat MacCart, one of the league’s best pitchers. Through three innings, Aston Valley had nothing to show for its collective effort against the veteran righty. MacCart allowed just four base runners in the first three innings and faced just 11 batters in that span.

It took Rob Caruso being hit by a pitch to start the fourth inning to get Aston Valley’s offense going against MacCart. After Kendall Small singled, Sam Farnell ripped a single to center field to put the first run on the board.

After Matt Domian grounded out to second, Hyatt walked to load the bases. Tecco went to his right to take a hit away from Macey and threw to Lake at third base to try to get the force on Farnell, but the throw was a tad late. Lake, however, stayed with the play and got the out when Farnell over ran the base.

Five pitches later MacCart got Carney to ground out to short, but Tecco’s throw was low, which allowed Hyatt and Macey to sprint home and give the Knights a 4-0 lead.

“You have to capitalize on any little mistake they make, because they don’t make too many,” Carney said.