As much as he's enjoying the present, Joey Powell can't help but worry about the future.
While it's wonderful that Julia Masterman High now owns the Public League/District 12 Class A baseball championship, and soon will participate in the regular Pub playoffs as well as the PIAA state tournament, Powell knows the long-range stop could be oblivion.
Masterman's varsity has just 12 players. There's no JV, and no freshmen (of only 42 boys in that class) were inclined to even try out.
"Getting kids to come out for the team; that's definitely going to be one of my jobs," said Powell, a 5-10, 155-pound sophomore shortstop. "There are some kids in school who played in the past. I don't know why they didn't come out this year, but we are going to need them.
"Maybe we'll get some help from kids who are now in eighth grade. We need a bunch more players."
The jury may be out on Powell's arm-twisting skills, but there's no doubt about his diamond savvy.
Monday, under mostly threatening skies near 33rd and Diamond, in Fairmount Park, Powell went 2-for-3 with a walk, one RBI, two stolen bases and one run scored as the Blue Dragons bested Girard Academic Music Program, 2-0, in a crisp 2 hours, 1 minute. Also, his mostly smooth fielding performance was highlighted by a diving catch of a liner.
The contest featured a terrific duel between senior righthanders David Ashbridge, of Masterman, and Dom Raia, of GAMP.
Ashbridge, who's bound for Dickinson, allowed three hits (all singles, two infield), walked none and struck out seven, and only two balls reached the outfield (single to center, fly to right). Raia, headed to Chestnut Hill College, pitched a six-hitter with the same number of walks and - whoa! - 15 whiffs. There was one normal out for Masterman, off a grounder to shortstop. Two guys were erased on the bases.
"In the field a pitcher's duel is cool, but not when you're batting," Powell said, smiling. "I'd rather go up by 10-0."
Instead, the run Powell scored in the first was enough. He drew a leadoff walk, thieved second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored a two-out run on a dropped ball at second after Nate Vahedi was picked off first and got hung up.
"I knew that run was crucial, but I was expecting more like a 5-4 game," Powell said. "I didn't know if Nate was going to try to steal. But I saw him going and that they were trying to get the out on him. I figured, 'With all that going on, might as well try to score.' "
The lower part of the order came through in the sixth. Chris Woods directed a leadoff single to right, Jack Christmas and Terrell Skipper milked walks and, following a punchout, Powell managed an infield single to bring in Woods.
"I had a feeling another curveball was coming," Powell said. "I bailed out a little, yet still got the barrel on it and hit it hard. With the bases loaded and one out, I didn't think he'd throw a first-pitch curve. But he did and made me look bad, then gave me another for strike two. Then, here came another on the 2-2 count."
Masterman, a 5-year Pub baseball participant, has experienced quite the ride while going 52-5 in league play. Coach Alex Dejewski's squad began life in the lowest division (D). It spent 1 year there, 1 in C, 2 in B and this year claimed the A championship over the likes of longtime, large-enrollment stalwarts such as Frankford, Central, George Washington and Northeast.
"Going up to A, I was kind of pessimistic," Powell said. "We came out and surprised everyone . . . including ourselves."
Just then, plate ump James Scott walked over to congratulate Powell on a nice performance.
"He says he's a sophomore, but with the plays he makes out there, he looks like a college graduate," Scott kidded.
Trying to prove he's indeed young, Powell laughed and said to Scott, "Hey, my sideburns are just coming in."
As Masterman won both regular-season meetings with GAMP (its season is over), Ashbridge and Raia did not square off.
"I've gotta tip my hat to him," said an emotional Raia. "This was some of the best stuff I've had this year - this game and Central, early - but he outpitched me. I knew that first run could be big. I told the guys we needed to win inning by inning, but we didn't."
Said Ashbridge: "I tried to keep my nerves at bay, even though I knew how much this game meant. I told my guys, 'This can't be the last time I wear a Masterman shirt.' "
He added, "When we played GAMP [recently], I used more offspeed stuff and they stayed back and hit the ball hard. My plan today was to use the fastball more. I got some adrenaline going and that gave me a few more miles per hour."