Bishop Shanahan blossoms after slow start - again

Posted: May 10, 2001

It is a rite of spring as predictable as April showers. The Bishop Shanahan baseball team, under coach George Hadfield, starts out slowly, then begins to roar as the weather warms up.

It has happened again this season. The Eagles started 1-7 and lost two of their first three Southern Chester County League games. They seemed buried.

Since then, Shanahan has won nine straight games. The Eagles posted their biggest win of the season on Monday, knocking off league-leading Avon Grove, 2-1.

Shanahan (10-7 overall, 10-2 league) has turned things around primarily with pitching and defense. The Eagles also are getting solid production from Mike LaRosa, who is hitting .604 with 32 hits, 27 runs batted in, and 23 runs scored. He also has belted 10 triples.

"Plus, he's played shortstop almost every game for us, and I remember two errors all season long," said Hadfield, a 16-year veteran.

LaRosa will play collegiately at West Chester.

Avon Grove (12-3, 11-1) still holds a one-game lead on the Eagles. Both teams have two games left. Avon Grove is scheduled to play Devon Prep today and Octorara on Monday. The Eagles are scheduled to face Garnet Valley today and Unionville on Monday. Both Avon Grove and Shanahan should qualify for the District 1 Class AAA playoffs.

Missed chance. Haverford School will have to play the role of spoiler in the Inter-Academic League. Tuesday's 12-3 loss to Malvern Prep pretty much ended any hopes of the Fords' repeating as league champions. The Fords shared the crown with Episcopal Academy last season.

Haverford is 8-10 overall and 2-5 in the Inter-Ac. Malvern (17-8, 5-2) leads the league. Each team has three games to play.

The Fords lost a handful of key players, many of them Division I-caliber, to graduation. It did not help Tuesday that the team's leading run producer, senior Chris Cook, was sidelined with a bad back.

"The pitching staff's combined earned run average is 3.00," coach Bob Castell said. "We just haven't been scoring runs. We miss the leadership of those guys [who have graduated]."

The Fords will visit Episcopal (13-7, 5-3), another contender, tomorrow.

Colonial collision. Bensalem, seeking its first league championship in 34 years, had hoped to put some space between itself and Central Bucks East in the Suburban One League National Conference Colonial Division on Tuesday.

Some sloppy play by the Owls helped East post an 8-4 win. The two clubs are both 9-4 in the league with two games each remaining.

"I don't think the kids were pressing, and I don't think it was inexperience. We just didn't make the plays," Bensalem coach Jim Jones said. The Owls allowed six unearned runs in a seven-run third inning.

"A whole bunch of these [Bensalem] kids played together all last summer," Jones said. "Then a whole bunch of them played fall ball together, then worked out together all winter. So it would be nice to see them go 2 for 2 here and get a piece of the trophy. They'd be able to taste the fruits of their labor."

East finishes up against William Tennent today and Pennridge on Monday. Bensalem faces Pennridge today and Harry S Truman on Saturday.

East won the division last season and reached the District 1 Class AAA quarterfinals. Bensalem has never made the district playoffs.

Around the horn. Owen J. Roberts (14-0, 13-0) has five games remaining on its Pioneer Athletic Conference schedule. The Wildcats have a four-game lead and need just one more victory to clinch at least a share of their fourth straight league title.. . . Downingtown (12-4, 6-1) is on top of the Ches-Mont League standings. West Chester East (13-3, 5-2) is right behind. If both teams win today, East would need to win Tuesday at Downingtown to force a playoff.

Brian Miller's e-mail address is millerbk@phillynews.com.

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