Phoenixville uses big 3rd inning to rout Upper Merion
The bright spot of Phoenixville’s baseball team has been its pitching and fielding. And while that bright spot certainly shined again on Tuesday, it was coupled with equally dominant batting.
Fueled by a monster sevenrun third inning, the Phantoms routed Upper Merion in five innings, 14-0 at Bridgeport Memorial Field.
The combined two-hit shutout courtesy Dylan Antonini and Wade Carruthers marks the seventh shutout of the season for Phoenixville (10-4, 7-1), and the third in a row against Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier opponents.
“We were very confident in our pitching going into the season,” Carruthers said. “A lot of infield and outfield practice. We’re just doing our best to back up our pitchers and help them have a lot of confidence when they go on the mound.”
Carruthers closed out the game in the fifth inning with two strikeouts. Antonini earned the win after striking out seven through four innings. Both arms let up just one hit apiece.
Already riding a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Phoenixville entered mercy rule territory with contributions from up and down its lineup. The Phantoms generated a trio of two-run singles from Sam Marsh, Colin Bull and Carruthers to surge ahead 10-0.
Coming off a 3-for-3, two-RBI outing against Upper Perkiomen last week, Carruthers once again led Phoenixville at the plate with a 4-for-4, three-RBI game with a run scored.
“Hitting is very contagious. When we get on a rally like that, guys coming in with very aggressive approaches and having some fun, they’re more confident in their swings and let their natural abilities take over,” Carruthers said.
The hitting spread like a wildfire. Eight different players combined for 12 knocks for the Phantoms, who found another chunk of runs in the fourth inning. Tommy Whitesel and Carruthers smacked RBI singles around a two-run double from Nico Nattle to go up 14-0 and cap the scoring onslaught.
Nattle plated the initial run of the game in the top of the first inning by coming home from third base on a wild pitch. One inning later, Elon commit Hudson Narke forced in a run on a groundout and a fielder’s choice off Bull’s bat gave the Phantoms a threerun cushion.
The closest the Vikings (6-7, 3-4) came to scoring a run was in the bottom of the fourth inning. Upper Merion worked three consecutive walks before a single out was made, loading the bases in a bid to carve away at its deficit.
“They were seeing the ball a little bit better than they were earlier in the game, making (Antonini) hit his spots, which he is obviously capable of doing,” Vikings coach Matt Mitchell said. “They were just seeing it better the second time through the lineup, which happens sometimes. Just didn’t come up with the clutch hit when we needed to.”
At that point, Phoenixville made its lone mound visit of the day. After the pause in action, Antonini dialed back in with a pair of strikeouts, followed by a groundout to pull out of the inning without letting up any real damage.
“I just looked him in the eye and told him how much confidence I have in him,” Phantoms coach Geoff Thomas said on his mound visit to Antonini. “‘You’re the man, get the job done. I’ll see you in three minutes. Get out of the inning.’”
The 14-0 finish bolstered an already PAC-high run differential of 59 for Phoenixville, which is currently ranked No. 4 in District 1 Class 5A.
Upper Merion saw a near identical result in the first meeting between the two this spring, a 15-0 win for the Phantoms on April 14.
“They’re one of the best teams in terms of their pitching staff,” Mitchell said on Phoenixville. “They pitch and play good defense and any time you can do that with the kind of arms they have and the defense that plays behind them, you’re going to have a shot to win every single game. That’s why they are where they are in the league right now.”
The Phantoms are scheduled to host Pope John Paul II on May 5, first pitch at 4 p.m. in a battle for control of the PAC Frontier.
Phoenixville lost 10-9 in the previous meeting between the two on April 17, an eight-run rally in the seventh inning coming up just short. But having
won the last four PAC Frontier titles (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022), the Phantoms are well within range of another divisional pennant.
“It’s a really big win for us in the Frontier,” Carruthers said. “Looking forward to keeping this momentum going forward. We’re having a lot of fun right now. Teams that are having fun are very dangerous.”