Bucks County Herald

Jenkintown outduels first-place Plumstead

DON LEYPOLDT

Plumstead Christian manager Bill Weaver was not at a loss for words postgame on Monday.

It would be easy to understand if he were. It was the first time this season Weaver had to speak after a loss.
The home Panthers fell to Jenkintown, 3-1, behind John Contoudis’ jewel. Contoudis struck out 10 in 6.1 shutout innings as Jenkintown improved to 16-2 overall and 12-2 in the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL).

“He was good locating the ball. He had a nice curve,” Plumstead starter Austin Pfaff assessed.

Michael DiValentino singled home centerfielder Jake McGrath to put Jenkintown up 1-0 in the first. Contoudis singled and came around to score in the third.

With two outs in the third, Pfaff was lifted for Brock Hewitt. Hewitt matched Contoudis’ excellence, striking out eight and allowing just two base runners in four innings.

“It starts before the game. Doing my normal routine as though I’m starting helps me to come in later,” Hewitt said. “My three pitches were working and that is always a huge help.”

Plumstead got its first two runners on in the fourth with a Pfaff single and Christian Roberts reaching on an error; Contoudis extinguished the rally and gave the Drakes a 3-0 lead with a seventh-inning RBI knock.

When Contoudis was lifted with one away in the bottom of the seventh, things got interesting.

The Drakes plunked first baseman Josh Ruch, got a strikeout and plunked second baseman Brendan Meyer. Centerfielder Ben Weaver singled, scoring Ruch.

“You’ve got to stay in the box prepared to swing,” Weaver said. “If it’s a ball, lay off, but prepare to swing from the beginning.”

Hewitt ripped a liner; McGrath robbed him with a diving grab to secure the game.

“If that ball dropped,” Weaver noted, “it’s a whole different story.”

“When we played Faith Christian, the ball just dropped and we won the game,” Bill Weaver reminded. “When it comes down to one play, I have a short memory.”

The Panthers used a four-run sixth inning to beat Jenkintown, 8-6, on May 5. Roberts had a triple and two singles.

“We needed more timely hits today,” Roberts felt. “We had runners on base, but we didn’t get the hits when we needed them. But we’ll be back at it and probably see them in the playoffs. We’ll give them our best then.”

Plumstead, which improved to 15-2-1 after blasting The Christian Academy, 11-0, on Tuesday in Brookhaven, is in a dogfight with the Drakes, both for the BAL Constitution crown and the top seed in the District One Class A tournament.

The Panthers average just under 10 runs a game.

“Top to bottom has been getting hits,” Roberts noted.

“There are no easy outs in our line-up,” Weaver echoed.

The Panthers have also delivered outstanding pitching performances. Plumstead topped Faith Christian, 2-1, in eight innings on May 9 behind Hewitt’s and Pfaff’s stellar mound work. The duo three-hit Dock Mennonite, 3-0, three days later. Dock is District One’s top-seeded Class AA team.

“The energy was real high in those games,” Pfaff said. “We need that switch on in every game.”

“It all starts with the fastball. If you can set that up and throw it by kids, then everything else will come with it,” Hewitt added.

“The greatest surprise has been Austin Pfaff,” Weaver commended. “He has made great contributions pitching. In my tenure of coaching, I haven’t had as many skilled players as I have on this field.”

Hewitt and Pfaff also lead the Panthers with 29 and 21 RBIs, respectively; Meyer’s .433 average and Ben Weaver’s 13 extra-base hits pace Plumstead. Roberts has a .559 on-base percentage.

The Panthers had played only three games through April 17. Starting with its 12-4 win over The Christian Academy on April 20, Plumstead rattled off 11 wins in the next 22 days. Plumstead’s only other loss was a forfeit.

“I think we’re dealing with it pretty well,” Roberts stated. “We won all of our games until now and we just have to keep grinding through the playoffs.”

Plumstead plays archrival Faith Christian at Coca-Cola Park on Thursday. The thought of that experience brought smiles to the Panthers’ faces despite the recentness of the Jenkintown ending.

Sometimes, it’s good to have a short memory.

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