Fords Battle, But Fall To Quakers Penn Charter Started The Baseball Game Like World-beaters. But Haverford School Made It Close.

Posted: May 07, 1997

HAVERFORD — The way Penn Charter southpaw Joe Larkin opened yesterday's baseball game against the Haverford School, it didn't look like the host Fords had a chance.

Larkin struck out the side in the first inning, had eight strikeouts through four innings, and didn't allow a hit as he efficiently put the Fords down on just 55 pitches.

``Those first four innings were the best I've thrown all year,'' the sophomore would say later.

But nothing comes easy in the highly competitive Inter-Academic League. The Fords didn't let Larkin off without a fight, loading the bases three times in the final three innings and eventually scoring four runs, only to fall just short, 5-4.

The victory put the Quakers (14-5 overall, 5-1 league) in the driver's seat as they try for their second league championship in three years. Malvern (20-6, 4-2) was rained out yesterday; Haverford School (8-5, 4-3) will need help to stay in the hunt. The good news for both challengers is that each still has a game left with Penn Charter.

Actually, both Larkin and his older brother, Pat, a senior outfielder, combined to lift Penn Charter early on.

Joe Larkin, after helping to lead Broomall-Newtown to the 1996 state Babe Ruth championship, has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the area. Before yesterday, he was 5-1 with a 1.60 earned run average, having struck out 68 hitters in just under 40 innings.

And while he was dominating the first half of yesterday's game, his Quakers were establishing a 5-0 lead. The big blows were a two-run single by Marshall Roslyn and a three-run, opposite-field homer by Pat Larkin, both in the third inning.

``But we've come back quite a few times this year,'' said Haverford School coach Bob Castell, ``so even down five runs, we felt we had a chance.''

The Fords proved him right, scoring an unearned run in the fifth on a single by Bernard Bygott before loading the bases again in the seventh.

Matt Leone had the big hit in that inning, looping a Larkin fastball to right field to score two runs. Larkin was starting to run out of gas, and walked Steve Compton and Jon Burling to tighten the game even further at 5-4.

When he missed with two balls to Todd Rosato, it was gut-check time.

``But my father gave me a Tiger's Eye, which I keep right around my neck,'' Larkin said. ``It reminds me to pitch with the Eye of the Tiger, to not back down.''

And he didn't, throwing three straight fastballs past Rosato to end the game.

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