Malvern Prep might not have the same overall talent as it did last season, when it went 31-5 overall and defended its Inter-Ac League baseball title. But things appear to be fine in the refuse-to-quit department.
In Tuesday's Inter-Ac opener against Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, the host Friars climbed out of a 6-0 hole and, with nine runs in their last two at-bats, somehow triumphed, 9-7, in 2 hours, 34 minutes.
"We're young this year," Malvern senior catcher Steve Robinson said, "but there's a lot of scrappiness in this team. We showed that today."
After scratching out four runs in the fifth inning, the Friars struck for five in the sixth. The difference was Robinson's one-out, two-run blast over the left-field fence.
"I was looking for something outside, because that's where they had been pitching me all day," said Robinson, a Penn State recruit. "[Ross Mintzer] hung a curveball. It was middle in, and I just pounced on it."
With no outs in the sixth, shortstop and Seton Hall recruit Joe Poduslenko launched a three-run shot to left to forge a 7-7 tie.
"It was a fastball right over the middle," Poduslenko said of the 1-2 pitch from Tim Menninger. "I got a good look at it, was able to turn on it."
Of the homers from Poduslenko and Robinson, Malvern coach Freddy Hilliard said, "Special players make special plays."
The Friars, who went 7-1 in their recent week-long trip to Florida, improved to 10-3 overall; the shocked Blue Devils slipped to 7-3.
With the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, Malvern's Anthony Gruenling, a junior righthander, caught Matt Caldwell looking at a third strike. Caldwell had protested that an earlier pitch had plunked him in the elbow, but the plate umpire ruled that it had caromed off his bat.
"The game never should have come down to that," Blue Devils assistant coach Danny Toto said. "We had a six-run lead. I give them credit for hanging around and finding a way to win."
Toto filled in for first-year skipper Chris Lubanski, who was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected from Saturday's loss against Archbishop Carroll.
For the Friars, who overcame five errors, Chris Butera went 3 for 3. Mark Gentilotti delivered a two-run single past second base in the fifth.
SCHA's Matt Kozemchak, a senior lefthander and Lehigh recruit, pitched four innings of shutout ball before being lifted.
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WP: Anthony Gruenling. LP: Ross Mintzer. 2B: SCH-Matt Kozemchak, Matt Rowland. HR: MP-Joe Poduslenko, Steve Robinson.