Considering the situation, the hero had a rather fitting surname.

On an occasion when Malvern Prep's baseball players and fans kept hoping for a wonderful ending, Matt McEndy provided it.

The Friars yesterday hosted Haverford School in a last-day Inter-Ac League makeup with a chance to earn a share of the title with Chestnut Hill Academy at 8-2 (still no playoffs in this loop, folks).

It took a while - nine innings, in fact - but Malvern claimed a 5-4 win.

"I was happy to be a part of it," McEndy said.

No wonder. He delivered the winning hit, then successfully withstood a playful but relentless attack by his joyous teammates.

The ninth-inning particulars:

Matt Allen reached second on a dropped fly ball. Tyler Young bunted him to third. Connor Kepke and Phil Gosselin were waved down to first with intentional walks.

"My teammate, Pete Greskoff, actually predicted that they were going to do that, so I tried to get myself ready," McEndy said.

Trying and succeeding, at least to start, do not always go hand in hand.

"In my previous at-bat, they started me with a slider and I missed," McEndy said. "Then I pulled a changeup foul. It was the same order this time, though I took the changeup for strike two. The next pitch the previous time was a fastball, so I figured they'd do the same. They did."

Clang! Ping! Whichever sound you prefer.

Well, first, a thought that was bouncing around inside McEndy's head.

"C'mon, it's 0-2. You need to get a hit here. There's a championship on the line."

McEndy jumped on dead-red and delivered a walkoff single a shade to the right of centerfield.

"They had the infield up," he said. "I knew it was going to be a hit. There was no way [an infielder] was going to get it. And it was out of reach of the centerfielder. Great feeling.

"Everybody ran out to celebrate. They were jumping around and pounding on me and pulling on my shirt . . . They never knocked me over. No bruises. Just lots of fun."

McEndy earlier smacked a double. Other hitting highlights were an Allen homer and RBI by Greskoff (sacrifice fly) and Pat McGinley (triple) in a two-run fourth. Rick Kazigian (five innings, all four runs) and Mike Francisco (one) combined to pitch the first two-thirds of the game, then Chris Cowell successfully walked the game-on-the-line tightrope.

Nick Genuario (single) and Ben Ware (sac fly) posted RBI for Haverford in a two-run sixth. The Fords loaded the bases with one away in the seventh, then Gosselin, a Virginia-bound shortstop, started a doubleplay; he finished with six assists and two putouts.

McEndy, a Malvern resident, is headed for Monmouth on a partial baseball scholarship and plans to major in business. He'll take a good lesson with him, as the Friars left behind a 2-2 start to win their last six. They also clipped Chestnut Hill twice.

"Our kids feel like we won this," coach Mike Hickey said. "And now [in the independent schools tournament] we'll get a chance to prove it."

Said McEndy: "After we got off on the wrong foot, our seniors really stepped up."

Football commitment

Ryan Nassib, Malvern's junior quarterback, has made an oral commitment to Syracuse. The 6-2, 209-pounder last fall earned third-team Daily News All-City honors after completing 68 of 130 passes for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns. *