TO BORROW and slightly alter lyrics from the Intruders, proms are just like a baseball game. Three strikes you're out.
By late last night, with a gigantic smile on his face, Tim Hart probably could have offered confirmation.
Franklin Towne Charter held its senior prom at Pen Ryn Mansion in Bensalem, and Hart's date was a friend named Samantha Morrison.
Strike one: Hart definitely missed the photo session, set to start at 6 o'clock, because he did not leave American Legion Playground, located at the foot of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and the site of a Public League quarterfinal that doubled as the Class AAA championship game, until roughly 5:45.
"I hope I make it up there for the start of the prom itself [at 7]," he said.
Strike two: Beneath his right eye was a reddish, rather sizable bump that, he figured, had been caused by a bug bite a couple days earlier.
"Not good for prom, right?" he said. "Looks bad."
Strike three: He can't cut a rug. Has trouble even picking up the scissors.
"I'm a terrible dancer," he said. "Just awful."
Ah, but Hart's only assignment, starting at 2:45, was to play quality baseball, and he certainly earned the diamond version of a boutonniere, as FTC, popularly known as Towne, rolled to a 10-3 win over visiting Ben Franklin.
On the mound: The 5-10, 165-pound righthander went four innings to earn the win, allowing one hit (Emmanuel Young's triple) and three walks while striking out 10.
At bat: He went 3-for-4 with singles to center, right-center and left.
On the bases: He stole three bases and scored two runs.
The thefts came during Hart's pitching stint (he later moved to centerfield) and were quite unusual. Not overall, but in a certain context, and that'll be detailed later.
During the school day, as he was honest enough to acknowledge, Hart gave little thought to the upcoming game. Understandable, right? Proms are such a big deal.
But once the bell rang and the Coyotes arrived at the field, if someone had asked Hart to name his date, he might have failed.
"I was really focused," he said. "I had all my stuff ready. My curve was working. My fastball was good. I was throwing harder than I have in a while. My shoulder was hurting a little recently. But today I felt good."
Hart gave major props to his catcher, junior Chris Hammerstein.
"All year, he's been the whole reason my pitching has been the way it's been," he said. "He's incredible back there. He calls every single pitch, and I always go on his judgments.
"The only time I ever shake him off is if coach [Kyle] Riley says, 'Go after him.' I know that means a fastball. Chris is great at preventing steals, too. I bet he's thrown about 10 guys out this year."
Hart registered three whiffs in the second and fourth and two apiece in the first and third. They enabled him to make sure Franklin would strand three guys in scoring position.
Towne scored once in the third as Hart singled, stole second and third, and scored on Damian Padilla's triple to center. It broke through for six in the fourth against Young, even though the outburst featured only two hits. Frosh DH Zackery Beltran collected both, a robust triple (would have departed any park) to right-center to get things started and a two-run single to plate the final two runs.
Brian Bradley (groundout), Chris Hartman (single) and Tyler Keller (sac fly) posted RBI in the three-run fifth.
Franklin, which was unable to use franchise righty Khalil Coles because of the PIAA's pitching restrictions (he'd worked five-plus innings in relief Wednesday), reached Padilla for an unearned run in the fifth and two more in the seventh on Jose Santiago's double.
Hart's next stop will be St. Leo, a Division II school in Florida. Strong grades have enabled him to earn a 43 percent tuition cut, and he plans to play baseball as a walk-on. His major will be criminal justice, thanks to injured classmate Elias Rosa.
"His father [also Elias] became a cop, and I've always looked up to him," Hart said. "I just love hearing his stories. They're all crazy."
Hart, who lives near the very end of Torresdale Avenue, almost never runs the bases on days when he pitches.
"Riley lets me choose," he said. "Today, I wanted to get as much playing time as I could. There's not much time left in our season. I want to treat every moment like it's my last.
"I liked those steals. I was feeling fast."
At the prom, let's hope he wasn't feeling clumsy.