Narberth 6, Aston Valley 4

Tecco’s schnozz helps Narberth levy first blow in Delco League finals

from the daily times POSTED:  

NARBERTH >> A broken nose is rarely a good thing, for the player or his team. Richie Tecco’s busted snout, though, turned out to be beneficial for the Narberth Mudcats.

Tecco broke his nose late last month while playing for the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer league in the upper Midwest.

Because of that injury Tecco was around to play shortstop and drive in the tying and winning runs Sunday as the defending champion Mudcats rallied from a three-run deficit to beat Aston Valley, 6-4, in Game 1 of the Delco League championship series at Narberth Park.

“Things happen for a reason,” Narberth player-manager Steve DeBarberie said. “He gets injured, comes back in the Delco League finals and hopefully can help us win another championship.”

Tecco played the first 17 games of the season with the Mudcats and expected to be with the team for the entire season until he received an offer he could not refuse.

In early July, Tecco received a phone call from former major leaguer Chris Sabo, who is the manager of the Bullfrogs. Sabo was looking for a sure-handed fielder to play shortstop and was given Tecco’s name through Sabo’s contacts with the coaching staff at Rider, where Tecco will be a junior.

Tecco was down the shore at the time, but he saw it as a chance to expand his baseball horizons. Tecco accepted Sabo’s offer, jumped in his car and headed to Wisconsin.

On July 22, Tecco squared to bunt in a loss to the Kalamazoo Growlers and fouled the pitch off. The ball hit Tecco in the face.

“It started bleeding right away,” Teccho said.

He knew immediately his nose was broken and that his time with the Bullfrogs was done.

“As soon as it happened I said, ‘Oh well, I’m going to go home and play in the Delco League playoffs,’” Tecco said.

It took a little convincing, though. Tecco came home because he was initially told that he had to have surgery. So he got in his car and made the nearly 1,000-mile drive back to Drexel Hill. Once home, however, Tecco went for a second opinion and found surgery was not necessary.

DeBarberie stayed in touch with Tecco during his time with the Bullfrogs and when he learned Tecco was home, DeBarberie asked him if he wanted to come back and finish out the season with the Mudcats.

Tecco hesitated. He wanted the injury to heal. But when John Banes, Tecco’s replacement at shortstop, went down with an ankle injury in Game 4 of the semifinals against Concord and would be out for the championship series, DeBarberie reached out again.

This time, Tecco agreed to come back just in time for final. The Mudcats are glad he did.

In his first game back Tecco blooped a two-run single into left field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the defending champions a 5-4 lead. Sean Spratt followed with a RBI single to make it a two-run advantage. Tecco also had three assists and turned an inning-ending double play in the second inning.

“I wanted to hit the ball hard there, but I’ll take that 10 out of 10 times,” Tecco said. “It’s two runs and a W so I’m happy with that at-bat.”

The hits by Tecco and Spratt helped the Mudcats erase a 4-1 deficit. Narberth scored two runs in the fifth inning on a two-run triple by Kevin McGowan and then tacked on three more runs in the sixth.

Until that point, Aston Valley was in control. Wild pitches in the first and fourth innings, and back-to-back sacrifice flies by Max Carney and Rob Caruso in the top of the fifth inning gave the Knights a three-run cushion. Meanwhile, starter Zach Rumford was cruising. The lefty allowed just two hits and one run through the first four innings. Both hits and the run came in the top of the first inning. After that, Rumford settled down and retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced.

Although it took a while, Narberth showed why it led the league in runs scored during the regular season. After Joe Lake struck out to start the sixth inning, Steve Furman singled and Spratt drew a walk. McGowan followed with his second triple of the game to cut Aston Valley’s lead to 4-3.

“I knew we needed something and I jumped on a pitch,” McGowan said. “This is probably the third time we’ve faced (Rumford) and he likes to throw me sliders away until I chase. He threw one and got it over for a strike so I knew the second one was coming. He got it up a little bit and I got it.”

An inning later, Tecco jumped on a pitch in on his hands and got enough of it to put Narberth in front for good, something that would not have happened had he gotten the bunt down.

“It’s good to be back,” Tecco said.