Wayne 2, Upper Darby 0

Mathes was a pitcher to count on for Wayne

By Jack McCaffery

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EASTTOWN TWP. » With each of his pitches in Game 3 of the Delco League championship series last Thursday, Cam Mathes had two goals in mind.

One: Win that game. Two: Be ready for another.

“That was the plan,” Mathes said Sunday. “I wanted to keep my pitch count low in that game so, if I had to, I would be ready for this one.”

Not only was Mathes ready to provide 3.2 innings of hitless relief Sunday, but he was named the championship series MVP after helping host Wayne to a 2-0 triumph over Upper Darby in the deciding fifth game at Devon Prep. The Villanova righthander by way of Marple Newtown High was the winning pitcher in all three Wayne victories, twice in relief, and as the starter in the 8-3 Game 3 victory.

“He’s a horse,” Wayne manager Brian Fili said. “He is one of the best pitchers in this league. He’s a proven player. He’s got guts. His arm was sore, but he wanted the ball.”

For that, Fili had a two-ply Game 5 pitching plan. He would start David Ferguson, convinced the righthander would keep the game close, then make sure to use Mathes in reserve. The result: A combined one-hitter.

“I didn’t want to bring him in too early,” Fili said. “And David Ferguson did a nice job.”

After allowing a line-drive, stand-up double down the left field line to Upper Darby leadoff hitter Adam Fine, Ferguson steadied, striking out two in his 3.1 innings.

But when Vince Gasbarro walked with one out in the fourth, Fili summoned Mathes, who immediately coaxed Christian Strickland, the Cabrini catcher, to ground sharply into a 6-4-3 double play to keep the game scoreless.

Upper Darby righthander Jackson Snyder struck out eight in his five innings, but encountered turbulence in the sixth when Nate Sides singled to right and Steven Wells walked. Blue Sox manager Dave Jerdon turned to 2021 finals MVP Johnny Gonzalez, but Wayne loaded the bases when Bill Ford survived on well-placed infield hit between third and short. Second baseman Steve Theisen would make a nice throw to nail Sides at the plate, and when Gonzalez struck out Tommy Bradley, the Sox seemed to have an escape hatch. But Wells and Ford would score when Jake Siani bounced toward third and a throw from Max Anastasio sailed wide of second on an attempted forceout.

“I knew our guys were going to score,” Mathes said. “We’ve had a relentless offense all year and I knew we were going to through. And I knew the defense would be behind me. All I would have to do is throw strikes and they would make the plays.”

With that, Mathes added a scoreless seventh and Wayne had its 18th championship, the fifth under Fili, ending Upper Darby’s one-year reign.

“It was a great series,” Jerdon said. “It went five games, and that’s what we wanted. Both teams had their best guy out on the mound at the end. Jackson Snyder pitched really well and Johnny came in and almost got us out of that jam. Johnny has just been unbelievable.”

Wells, who homered twice in the series had a single, a walk and scored a run Sunday. Ford, Sides, Matt Briner and Reece Malek each chipped in with a base hit.

“From the start, I said this series was going to be tough,” Wells said. “Everybody was pitching well and fighting their heads off. It was just an all-around great series.”

Mathes threw 63 pitches in Game 3, didn’t work Game 4, and was at his best in Game 5.

“They were five close games,” he said. “And they never stopped fighting. They had a great offense and they kept putting up good at-bats. It was a tough one.”

In the end, though, Mathes was ready, a play broke right, and Wayne had the championship trophy.

“He’s the MVP for a reason,” Fili said. “He is a great competitor and he wants to win.”

He was not alone. “We’ll regroup,” Jerdon said. “And we’ll be back battling Wayne or Aston whoever it is for the championship next year.”