With a case of tendinitis in his right elbow, Billy "Moose" Ford had to slowly work his way into Malvern Prep's pitching rotation. Also, instead of regularly handling the catching duties, he was made a designated-hitter.

"It's hard just sitting in the dugout and watching," the senior captain said. "You want to be doing what you usually do. It's an adjustment."

Ford made up for the missed action on Tuesday. With the 6-foot-3, 235-pound righthander notching 10 strikeouts, the visiting Friars downed Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 4-2, and clinched their third straight Inter-Academic League crown.

"I was excited about this opportunity," he said. "With us having the chance to wrap up first place in the league, I wanted the ball. I wanted to make sure it happened."

While posting a complete game seven-hitter, Ford overcame some early control issues. He threw 112 pitches, with 71 for strikes.
"His pitch count coming in was about 95," Malvern skipper Freddy Hilliard said. "He went over that number, but I don't think there was any way we were pulling him out of the game. We were either going to win with him or lose with him."

Ford, who quarterbacked the football squad last fall, thrived with a fastball and change-up. His pitch count when he first took the mound this season was 60. "I feel good," he said. "I'm 100 percent."

Said Hilliard: "He's our No. 1. In a game like this, he's the guy you give the ball to. He gives us a good chance to win every time he's out there."

Ford struck out seven of SCH's first 11 batters. In the fourth, with runners on first and third and two outs, he fired a high fastball past DH Zach Gerard to keep the advantage at 4-1. He also ended the fifth with a whiff.

"Once he gets into a rhythm, he's almost unhittable," said Friars senior catcher Steve Robinson, who produced a pair of doubles.
Malvern, which improved to 24-7 overall, earned top Inter-Ac honors with a 9-1 mark. The Blue Devils slipped to 13-5 and 6-3.

"This championship is pretty sweet," Robinson said. "I say that because I don't think many people considered us a contender before the season."

The Friars, with Robinson's RBI double and Brian Giacchino's RBI single, took a 2-0 lead in the first; Joe Poduslenko's RBI single in the second made it 3-0; and it was 4-0 after Dan Grandieri (2 for 3, two runs) scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.

Ford, of Parkside, Delaware County, plans to play baseball and football at West Chester. His projected spot in the latter is tight end. "I can't wait," he said. "I'd rather hit somebody than throw the ball to them."

Malvern Prep 210 100 0-4 9 1

Springside Chestnut Hill 000 101 0-2 7 1

WP: Billy Ford. LP: Ross Mintzer. 2B: MP-Steve Robinson 2, Chris Butera; SCH-Matt Kozemchak.