By Phil Anastasia
It was Mark Scarpa's most important start of the season.
It also was his best.
A senior right-hander, Scarpa pitched a two-hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks as Washington Township clinched the Olympic Conference American Division title Monday with a 5-0 victory over Cherokee.
Senior third baseman John Schoelkopf was 3-for-3 and senior shortstop Colin McAllister reached base three times and scored two runs for Washington Township (16-5, 8-2), the No. 6 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Junior left-hander Brian Marconi went 5 1/3 innings for No. 7 Cherokee (12-8, 8-2).
"Scarpa was fantastic," Cherokee coach Marc Petragnani. "He did a great job of mixing it up and keeping us off-balance."
Scarpa knew the importance of the game as both teams entered play with a chance to clinch the division title. Washington Township earned the crown on the basis of a season sweep of Cherokee.
"It was our biggest game of the year," Scarpa said. "I was focused right from the start. I wanted this win."
Scarpa also was motivated by his last outing, a 12-7 loss to Eastern on Tuesday.
"This was a bounce-back game for me," Scarpa said.
The victory improved Scarpa's record to 5-2. It also was the 19th win of his career, a school record.
"He was focused from the first pitch," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "He knew what was at stake."
Scarpa, who plans to attend Mercer County College, showed great command of his curveball and maintained the velocity of his fastball for all seven innings.
"We chased some pitches but he set us up to chase," Petragnani said.
Schoelkopf singled and scored in the first and added an RBI single in the fifth. Sophomore right-fielder Dylan Baratti added a two-run single in the sixth.
"We want to win the Diamond (Classic) again and made a deep playoff run," Scarpa said. "But the first thing was winning the division. This was huge for us."
Cherokee 000 000 0 -- 0 2 2
Washington Twp. 200 012 x -- 5 10 2
WP: Mark Scarpa. LP: Brian Marconi.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org