Radnor Prepared For A Critical Week With Two Overwhelming Victories

Posted: April 12, 1999

Radnor, entering a big week on its schedule, is coming off two solid performances in which it totaled 24 runs and its pitching staff allowed almost nothing.

The Raiders knocked off Lower Merion, 12-2, last Monday behind the pitching of Frank Grabuski, then came back Thursday and drubbed Penncrest, 12-0, with Ed Furlong earning the win. Each game lasted only five innings because of the 10-run rule, and both Grabuski and Furlong threw no-hitters.

The pitchers received plenty of offensive support. Frank Grabuski, just a sophomore, went 4 for 4 against Lower Merion and added two hits against Penncrest, and he is hitting .710 this season. His brother Steve, the team's senior catcher, is hitting a comparatively paltry .529.

Senior shortstop Justin Mattson and senior third baseman Pete Mohoric are also hitting better than .400 for the Raiders (4-1), as is centerfielder B.J. McFarland, who recently was offered a baseball scholarship by Drexel University.

``Our defense has really improved, too,'' said coach Jim Balk, now in his 33d year at Radnor. ``In [Furlong's] no-hitter, he only had two strikeouts. We had very good defense behind him.''

The Raiders, now 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Central League, will see if they can stay in the league race as they play their season's first three-game week. After hosting Haverford High today, they will face league leader Conestoga on Wednesday and Springfield on Friday.

That means that the hot-hitting Raiders could face two of the area's best pitchers - Conestoga's Marc Cappelletti and Springfield's Taylor Buchholz - back to back.

Fuel for a fire. After an intensive week of training in Florida that would have made a boot-camp instructor proud, and with driven seniors who seem to be hitting everything in sight, all Coatesville needs now is a little extra incentive.

That should come Wednesday, when the Raiders play Malvern Prep in a nonleague game that they hope will boil with playoff intensity.

The Raiders have won six consecutive Ches-Mont League championships and two straight District 1 Class AAA titles, and they reached the PIAA state final last spring. Plus, many of their players were on the Caln American Legion team that won the state Legion crown last summer before playing in the Mid-Atlantic regional tournament.

That's why the Raiders were perplexed and upset when Malvern was ranked in one national preseason poll and they were omitted.

The Friars are coming off an Inter-Ac League championship, and they do have one of the area's best players in Arizona State-bound Ryan Edginton. And their program has made a habit of producing first-round major-league draft picks.

But Coatesville is, well, Coatesville, and the Raiders, who are never afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, are always up for a challenge.

``It's going to be quite a game,'' coach Hal Ziegler said. ``My kids have been anxious to play [Malvern] ever since they saw [Malvern] was ranked 13th in the nation. They're keyed up.''

Ziegler said his troops are about ``three weeks ahead of themselves'' after their recent week of 10-hour sessions in Cocoa Beach, Fla. His infielders took as many as 200 ground balls per day, and each player got two 200-swing sessions each day in the batting cage.

At any rate, the Raiders are ripping the ball right now. They came back from Florida and immediately unloaded on Spring-Ford last Monday, smacking 11 hits in a 10-0 rout of the perennial Pioneer Athletic Conference power.

Then, on Saturday, in another five-inning romp, Coatesville went to 6-0 with a 19-1 waltz over Upper Merion.

Senior cleanup hitter Dan Newton continued his torrid pace, going 4 for 4 with a grand slam, four runs scored, and seven RBIs. After hammering the ball in Florida, Newton is hitting .788 this season.

Seniors Tim Duff, Glenn Woolard and Eric Kosek had multi-hit games Saturday, too.

Haverford hustles. Haverford School coach Bob Castell thinks he has one of the area's best 1-2 punches at the top of his lineup in brothers Andrew and Eric Hoffman.

Who can blame him?

Andrew, the team's leadoff hitter, scored 38 runs last year, and Eric, batting second, scored 26 and drove in 27. Those numbers came in just 19 games.

The two are back at it this spring. On Tuesday, Andrew Hoffman blasted his second home run of the season as Haverford beat Roman Catholic, 9-1. Then, on Saturday, Eric Hoffman scored five runs as Haverford mauled Devon Prep, 21-3.

Castell hopes the Hoffmans stay hot at least through tomorrow, when the Fords (7-2) will play Malvern Prep, the defending Inter-Ac champion, in the league opener for both.

Main Line and Delaware County Baseball Top 10 Rk.TeamRec.Comment

1.Ridley 4-0 With a close win over Strath Haven, the Raiders can seemingly do no wrong.

2.Springfield (Delco) 3-1 When Taylor Buchholz is on the mound, the Cougars can beat anybody.

3.Conestoga 4-1 The Pioneers bounced back from their loss with a strong win over Upper Darby.

4.Archbishop Carroll 5-2 The Patriots must shake off a wild loss to St. Joseph's Prep.

5. Haverford School 7-2 The Fords will need to stay hot in a test at Malvern Prep tomorrow.

6.Upper Darby 4-1 The Royals rebounded with a neighborhood win over Monsignor Bonner.

7. Radnor 4-1 Keep an eye on the Raiders in the tight, tough Central League race.

8. Sun Valley 2-1 The Vanguards posted a big Del-Val League victory over Chichester.

9. Academy Park 2-1 The Knights should not look past Glen Mills tomorrow.

10.Delco Christian 7-5 Perkiomen School blanked the Knights in a Keystone Conference showdown.

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