By PETER DiGIOVANNI
WEST GOSHEN -- The West Chester East baseball team has been having lot of trouble scoring runs so far this season. Wednesday afternoon at a windswept Price Field, that was okay, because they didn't need many.A first-inning run gave East an early lead and junior hurler Culver Hughes handled the rest. Hughes turned in a dominating four-hit, seven-strikeout gem as he outdueled Avon Grove's Joe Thompson for a 3-1 Ches-Mont League National Division victory.
"I felt real good today and I had a good command of both my curveball and my slider,' Hughes said. "When we got that first run it really helped. The defense was very good behind me and I felt strong out there today.'
East (3-4 Ches-Mont, 3-4 overall) used its speed to garner the game's first run. Shortstop Ian Street led off with a sharp single to right field. Street then stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kyle Block's grounder to first.
With Hughes motoring along and Thompson dialing in for the Red Devils (4-3, 4-3), it looked liked the one run would be enough. The pair traded zeroes until the Vikings broke through again in the bottom of the fourth for a couple of insurance runs, once again, their speed fueled the rally.
Hughes led off with a single to left. Alex Corialos came in as a courtesy runner and promptly stole second base. Connor Ruhl hit a grounder to short, but Elliot Forde's throw to first went awry and Corialos came around to score. Mike Sabrick walked to put two men on base with one out, then Steve Borum delivered an RBI single to make it a 3-0 game. With Hughes in control, the outcome looked like a mortal lock for the Vikings."We are not going to be blown out of any games, so when we get an early run it helps us set the pace,' Vikings coach Scott Kelley said. "We used our speed and we are going to use our speed to win games. And with Culver pitching so well, we did not need that many runs.'
Avon Grove mounted a rally in the top of the fifth against the Virginia Tech-bound Hughes. An error and a single from Dan Klinger put two on with two out. Leadoff hitter crushed a Hughes fastball, but the wind knocked in down and left fielder Mike Sabrick hauled in the drive to end the threat.
The Red Devils did score a run in the sixth inning when Matt Harrison roped an RBI single to center to make it 3-1.
Avon Grove did have the tying run at the plate with two outs in the seventh after a walk to D'Aquanno. But Hughes got the final out when Thompson rolled a grounder to short to give the Vikings had a much needed win."I really wasn't tired in the late innings, it was just a matter of bearing down and fighting through it.' Hughes said.
The loss was the second straight for the Red Devils, but skipper Dave Whitcraft saw some good things on the field."I thought Joe pitched very well,' Whitcraft said. "He is a real competitor. We had our chances in the late innings, but we could not get the timely hit. We had good energy for the whole game, so that was a real good thing.'
West Chester East 3, Avon Grove 1
AVON GROVE ab r h bi W.C. EAST ab r h bi
D'Aquanno 2 0 1 0 Street ss 3 1 2 0
Thompson p 4 0 0 0 N.Corialos rf 3 0 0 0
Forde ss 2 0 0 0 Block 3b 3 0 0 1
Guckin c 1 1 1 0 Hughes p 2 0 1 1
Ligda dh 3 0 0 0 A.Corialos pr 0 1 0 0
Swank rf 0 0 0 0 Ruhl dh 2 1 0 0
Harrison 2b 3 0 1 1 Springer c 0 0 0 0
Rice 1b 3 0 0 0 Hoffman 2b 2 0 0 0
Lincoln pr 0 0 0 0 Gulassion ph 1 0 0 0
Kim cf 2 0 0 0 Sabrick lf 1 0 0 0
Farron ph 1 0 0 0 Borum 1b 2 0 1 1
Klinger lf 2 0 1 0 O'Donnell cf 2 0 1 0
Beyer ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 24 1 4 1 Totals 21 1 4 3
Avon Grove 000 001 0-1
W.C. East 100 200 x-3
Avon Grove IP H R BB SO
Thompson, L 6 4 3 3 4
Hughes, W 7 4 1 2 7