Springfield 5, Marple Newtown 4

Shoemaker, Farrell proving Penn can be mighty in playoffs

By Matt Smith

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SPRINGFIELD » Reed Farrell is getting a crash course on what it’s like to handle college pitching in the Delco League this summer.

It certainly helps having a college senior in Dave Shoemaker as a battery mate. Next spring, Farrell, a Garnet Valley graduate, will catch Shoemaker at the University of Pennsylvania.

They worked in tandem Wednesday night to lead Springfield past Marple Newtown, 5-3, in Game 1 of a Delco League quarterfinal playoff series.

The hard-throwing lefty gave the Colonials six solid frames on the bump. He gave up three runs (one earned) on seven hits, struck out seven and walked none.

“Working with Reed has helped a bunch because he’s coming in next year, so we can work on our chemistry. I rarely ever had to shake off a pitch,” Shoemaker said. “Us being on the same page is big for both of our confidence. That was the most in-sync we’ve been all year, which is nice.”

Farrell has been a workhorse behind the plate for Springfield since his high school season concluded. He was the top backstop in the Central League and earned second team All-Delco honors at the position in the spring. He has enjoyed catching Shoemaker in the Delco League, as not every incoming college catcher has the chance to catch his future teammate in a live game setting.

“Obviously, it means everything to me,” said Farrell, who collected two singles and drove in a run Thursday. “I mean, being able to catch a guy before you really get to be on the team with him is great. I’ve gotten to know him the past month and a half. I’ve caught him four or five times. I feel like we’re getting on the same page pretty quickly.”

Shoemaker lets Farrell call the game. If Farrell has suggestions on how to approach a certain batter, Shoemaker is all ears and trusts that his catcher will make the right decision…even if he’s an incoming freshman. The relationship has only helped Farrell develop into a batter player, a much more confident catcher.

“He’s pretty lenient out there,” Farrell said. “He respects what I know and I respect what he knows. It’s a good mix. I learn from him and he learns from me.”

At the plate Farrell has hit near the bottom third of the order most of the season for the Colonials. He is beginning to realize that not every hit has to be a bomb. Farrell led off the second inning with a single and his pinch runner, Will Ferris, eventually came home.to score on an RBI double by Will Kelley. In the fourth he smacked a run-scoring knock to right field to put Springfield up 4-1.

“It’s a great league to be in, a good mix of college guys and older players,” Farrell said. “I’ve been trying to stay a little shorter (with his swing). Not trying to hit it out. You don’t know what you’re getting every time. One day you could be facing 90 (mph) and the next day you could get 70 or 80. So staying short has definitely helped me, especially this last month.”

Shoemaker was recruited to play for Springfield by his other Penn teammate, Cole Palis, who starts at shortstop for the Colonials.

“I thought I could come in here and just throw a fastball and nobody will hit it. I found out right away that wasn’t going to work and I knew I had to switch it up a little,” he said. “It’s a good enough league that I know I have to pitch to guys with my stuff and go after them because no strikeout is easy.”

Kelley’s double gave the Colonials a 1-0 lead, but the Black Sox answered with a run in the third. Cole Connelly reached on an error by second baseman Connor Scanlan, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Aiden Johnson, and came home on an RBI single by Blaise Rantanen. The Black Sox didn’t make too much hard contact against Shoemaker, who got a bunch of swings and misses. But the Colonials’ shoddy defense (three errors) allowed the Sox to stay alive.

Johnson threw a complete game loss with five punchouts. He wasn’t bad, but seven walks caused his pitch count to rise above 100 in the sixth inning. Springfield left a small island on the base paths (10 LOBs). In the sixth, the Colonials tacked on a key insurance run. Norm Donkin, a former Daily Times Male Athlete of the Year, reached on an error and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk by Palis. Johnson escaped further damage by getting Gerard Sweeney, whose two-run single in the third put Springfield ahead to stay, popped up to shortstop Colin Myers and fanned Gabe Encarnacion for the third out.

Cardinal O’Hara grad Kyle Calderaro picked up the save with a scoreless seventh inning, fanning slugger Tom Carey to end the game.

Springfield looks to close out the series Friday evening at O’Hara. If the Colonials can sweep, they will meet Upper Darby in the semifinal round next week.