WEST NORRITON — Norristown's bats Friday afternoon against Pope John Paul II and the winter that we're finally (hopefully) coming out of had one big thing in common: they were ice cold.
The Golden Panthers' hurlers two-hit the Eagles, getting dominant pitching performances out of Josh Lafferty, Evan Myers, and Dan Zurowski on their way to 4-0 season-opening win.
"Any time you start off a season with a ' W', you know you've done a good job,' first-year PJP coach John Duffy said. "We faced one batter over the minimum, and when you do that you're going to win a lot of ball games.'
The Golden Panthers got on the board quickly when they plated one on Joe Pedorenko's RBI single in the first. PJP scored three more times in the contest — all unearned runs thanks to errors by the Eagles' first, second and third basemen — in the second, third, and fifth innings, respectively.
Lafferty gave up a bleeder up the middle to Tommy Piccari in the opening frame, but fielded a comebacker that started a 1-6-3 double play in the subsequent at-bat to end the first. He didn't allow a hit through his other three innings pitched, and finished with eight strikeouts.
Evan Myers sailed easily through the fifth and sixth, before the side-armed Zurowski, the squad's closer, struck out the side in the seventh — only interrupted by a bloop single by Piccari.
"They have three things in common,' Duffy said of Friday's pitchers, "They're all seniors, they all want to win, and they'll all be pitching in college. As a new coach, it's a pleasure to have three kids like that.'
"We put heavy emphasis on pounding the strike zone,' Duffy continued. "They had a good defense behind them, and we only walked one guy. If you do that, again, you're going to win a lot of games.'
The trio fanned 13 Norristown hitters, and gave up only a walk and a hit batsman in addition to the Eagles' two hits.
J.T. Vaughan pitched admirably for Norristown in the loss, striking out three and only allowing one earned run in his five innings of work. Alec Proietto held PJP scoreless through the last two and struck out a pair.
"He kept us in the game,' brand-new Norristown coach Rich Campbell said of Vaughan. "He managed to limit the damage to only one run when (each of the errors occurred).'
"Their pitching held us down all day,' Campbell said. "We didn't have much going on, and when we did, we ran ourselves out of it.'
Norristown had four baserunners throughout the contest — the first three of which were immediately knocked out in the following at-bat by the aforementioned double play, a pickoff, and caught stealing on a missed hit-and-run, respectively.
"We made mistakes, and that's what the difference in the game was,' Campbell continued. "We made three errors, turning a 1-0 into a 4-0 game... Those things happen. It's early in the season and only our second (game). Being only three mistakes away from being in a game with a quality team like PJP is a good start for us.'
Campbell took over after long-time coach Vince Elsier abruptly left the team in the off-season, and has seen reason for optimism to this point in his short tenure.
"The kids are great. They're coming out here for practice and doing everything we ask of them,' Campbell said. "There are some things that we're trying to tweak. We'd like to see a little more awareness in situations, but we're teaching them when those situations present themselves.'
"The future is bright,' he went on. "This was a good start because we see what a quality opponent is like in a non-league game — so that when we reach our league schedule, it'll help make us a playoff team.'
Pope John Paul II 4, Norristown 0
Norristown: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0: 0
Pope John Paul II: 1 1 1 0 1 0 0: 4
ab. r. h. rbi.
Wayne LF: 3, 0, 0, 0
Piccari 2B: 3, 0, 2, 0
Randolph RF: 3, 0, 0, 0
Catagnus CF: 3, 0, 0, 0
Faunce 1B: 1, 0, 0, 0
Curll C: 2, 0, 0, 0
Falco SS: 2, 0, 0, 0
Detwiler 3B: 2, 0, 0, 0
Collins DH: 1, 0, 0, 0
Total: 20, 0, 2, 0
E: Faunce, Piccari, Detwiler
2B hits: none. 3B: none. HR: none. SB: none.
ip. h. r. er. bb. k.
Vaughan: 5, 5, 4, 1, 2, 3
Proietto: 2, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2
ab. r. h. rbi.
Miller CF: 2, 0, 0, 0
Citro RF: 2, 0, 0, 0
Bleming SS: 4, 1, 1, 0
Pederenko LF: 2, 2, 2, 1
O'Brien 3B: 4, 0, 1, 0
Kucewicz 1B: 4, 0, 0, 0
Williamson C: 3, 0, 0, 0
Beyer DH: 3, 1, 0, 0
Hitman: 2B: 2, 0, 1, 1
Nowakowski PH: 1, 0, 0, 0
Total: 25, 4, 5, 2
2B hits: none. 3B: none. HR: none. SB: Miller, Kucewicz, Hitman, Pedorenko.
ip. h. r. er. bb. k.
Lafferty: 4, 1, 0, 0, 0, 8
Myers: 2, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2
Zurowski: 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 3