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.