Wood's offense silent in state quarterfinal loss to Twin Valley
Jeff Courter, in effect, yesterday subjected himself to a pair of exams. He suspects he fared better in the baseball version, but alas, even that one did not turn out too splendidly.
Jeff Courter, in effect, yesterday subjected himself to a pair of exams.
He suspects he fared better in the baseball version, but alas, even that one did not turn out too splendidly.
Courter, a 6-3, 200-pound junior lefthander, allowed just two runs and retired the last 11 batters in order as Archbishop Wood High battled Twin Valley in a PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal at Boyertown's appealing Bear Stadium.
However, the Vikings' bats shot blanks - for the first time in seemingly forever - and the result was a 2-0 loss that terminated the season.
Wood's seniors already have graduated, but the underclassmen are still biding book time and Courter's day began with an exam in, hmm, let's see, he needs to think for a moment, what's that course called again?
Oh, yeah. World History II.
"How I'd do? Probably not so good," Courter said, forcing a smile.
The reason: It was tough to concentrate, knowing such another important assignment was hours away. Then the game came and, guess what, he was a shade unfocused for that, also.
In the first inning, which didn't start until 3:12 because the umps didn't even walk onto the field until the scheduled 3 o'clock starting time (then came the checking of equipment, ground rules, introduction of all players), Courter walked two, plunked another and surrendered an RBI double to mound counterpart Jared Price, who happened to spin a one-hitter.
"We came out a little flat, and it bit us in the [butt]," Courter said. "It's like they say about NFL games . . . Any given Sunday.
"I was part of [the negative vibes]. My worst innings were the first few, due to walks and throwing pitches that they wound up hitting hard. I don't know if you'd say I was tentative, or nervous, or whatever . . . tough to describe."
In all, Courter allowed eight hits and walked those two while striking out one.
He managed to keep TV - located about 15 miles west of Phoenixville, its drawing area straddles Chester and Berks counties - off the board in the second inning thanks to a nice running catch by leftfielder Jim Fannon and in the third by snagging a liner that he turned into a doubleplay.
In the fourth, three infield singles, with a bunt among 'em, loaded the bases with one away. Dan Myers directed a groundball single into right for one RBI, but third baseman Larry Brittingham made the next plays in solid fashion - to the plate for a force; to first to end the mini-uprising.
"Once we got down early, I was trying to keep their run total as low as I could," Courter said. "I got great support defensively. Goes to show: If you attack the strike zone, good things will happen."
Wood's only hit occurred with two away in the first. Kyle McCrossen sent a rope to right that - thwack - slammed against a sign advertising custom kitchens. For whatever reason (maybe he thought the ball was going to leave the yard?), McCrossen got a slow start and was easily gunned down at second.
Inadvertently, McCrossen returned to the limelight in the fourth. With Mike Spahits (walk, wild pitch) on second, Kyle was called out on a decidedly low pitch.
Jim DiGuiseppe Sr., who co-coaches the Vikings with his son, Jim Jr., barked a little at the plate ump from the first-base box. After Matt McAllister grounded out to end the inning, Jim Sr., muttered toward the plate ump, "That's a disgrace." The guy removed his mask, took a few steps toward him and growled, "Is there something you want to say about balls and strikes?' Cause here I am."
There were no further fireworks.
Wood stirred in the fifth as Brady McNab and Brittingham milked one-out walks. Hacking at the first pitch, Brett McCrossen, Kyle's brother, popped out foul and Chris Zikmund fanned.
Among those stunned by Wood's goose egg, its first of the season, was star centerfielder Brian O'Grady, who's headed for Rutgers.
"Their pitcher did a nice job, but I wouldn't say he was the dominant type," O'Grady noted. "He wasn't better than anything we've seen this season. I guess our approaches at bat, and our overall mind-sets, weren't where they should have been.
"All year our thing has been scoring runs and hitting the ball hard. Today we didn't hit balls too hard, and they didn't find holes. To get shut out; let alone on one hit . . . Didn't expect this."
O'Grady went 0-for-3 with almost identical right-side groundouts.
"All on pitches toward the outside," he said. "That's what I do with those. I roll over them and hit grounders. I was too anxious. Too pumped up."
Said Courter, who's receiving sustained early interest from Penn and Saint Joseph's: "It's frustrating not to get any runs. But at the same time, I have to say my teammates had my back all year. You just have to pitch and hope for the best."
Now, he has to prepare for the rest of his exams. And recapture total concentration.