First-year Penn Charter baseball coach David Miller wants his players to take chances. And if someone makes a mistake in doing so, the Quakers, taking a cue from Louisiana State's vaunted program, are supposed to "flush it" and move on.
"I think the kids kind of played like robots last season," Miller said. "They played a little too tight. Mistakes are going to happen. You have to learn from it and get better."
Continuing its turnaround from last season, Penn Charter, buoyed by 11 hits and a strong effort from freshman righthander Matt Gorman, easily downed Germantown Academy, 10-4, Thursday in an Inter-Ac League contest in Fort Washington.
"Before every game, we huddle together and shout, 'family,' " Quakers senior T.J. Pagan said. "We're very close. We're like brothers. That closeness has helped us a lot."
After starring on the diamond at Chestnut Hill Academy and Clemson, Miller played professionally - he was a first-round pick in the 1995 amateur draft - in the Cleveland Indians organization. He spent one year as a Penn Charter assistant under then-coach Jon Cross.
"When we started this season, a lot of the kids had to turn the page from last year's disappointment," Miller said. "We had to learn how to play as a team, do the little things that successful clubs do."
The Quakers are 10-3 overall and 3-1 in Inter-Ac play. Last year, with a 3-7 mark, they placed fourth in the league.
"A lot of it has to do with us playing as a team," senior catcher Jordan Della Valle said. "Last year, some guys played selfishly."
Against GA, the Quakers broke open the game with a seven-run, third-inning outburst. It was highlighted by Pagan's two-run double to right field and Steve Brown's two-run single to center.
Pagan, used as a designated hitter against the Patriots, is a righthanded pitcher and corner infielder. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, recently committed to Delaware.
Last fall, after suffering a labrum injury and losing some velocity, Pagan (4-0 record) switched to a submarine pitching style.
"He's put in more work than anyone I've ever seen," Miller said.
Gorman allowed just five hits and fanned five in six innings vs. GA (6-6, 0-3).
"His composure for a freshman is outstanding," the Penn-bound Della Valle said. "He's got good command of his fastball, and he mixes his off-speed stuff well."
Penn Charter 027 001 0 - 10 11 0
Germantown Ac. 100 003 0 - 4 5 2
WP: Matt Gorman. LP: Ryan DeWalt. 2B: PC-Dillon Malandro 3, T.J. Pagan; GA-John Aiello. HR: GA-Ryan Calhoun.