Freshman lifts Spring-Ford to semis

Methacton centerfielder Kyle Feaster dives for a sinking liner off the bat of Spring-Ford's Zach Wedemeyer in the fourth inning. He made the catch. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Methacton centerfielder Kyle Feaster dives for a sinking liner off the bat of Spring-Ford's Zach Wedemeyer in the fourth inning. He made the catch. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Posted: June 07, 2014

When he was younger, Conor Larkin pictured himself many times following in the footsteps of his two brothers and playing a key role for Spring-Ford in a high-stakes situation.

Before Thursday afternoon, when the wide-eyed freshman righthander was picked to start against Methacton in a PIAA Class AAAA state quarterfinal, he expected that to happen later in his high school baseball career.

Larkin handled the pressure impressively, striking out seven in six innings to help the Rams edge their Pioneer Athletic Conference rival, 3-2, at Neumann University in Aston.

Coach Bruce Brobst told Larkin, 15, that he would start against Methacton, marking his first varsity action, about an hour before game time.

"That's when I got mixed emotions," Larkin said. "I was happy. I was nervous. A lot was going through my mind. Once I got on the mound, I was ready."

The 6-foot, 160-pounder mixed a fastball, curveball, and change-up in allowing four hits and walking three. He threw 90 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Brobst went with Larkin partly because junior righthander Cam Simmons, who took over in the seventh and notched the save, experienced some arm issues after closing Monday's 2-1 victory over Parkland. Junior righthander Bret Clarke went six innings in Monday's win over Parkland.

"When Cam was not 100 percent, we had to piece things together," Brobst said. "We made it as simple for Conor as we could. We said, 'You throw the ball over the plate, and we'll do the rest.' "

In beating Methacton for the third time this season, the Rams (20-7) earned a berth in Monday's state semifinals, at a site and time to be determined, against District 12 champion La Salle.

Larkin's brothers, Sean and Dan, play for Cedarville University in Ohio.

Taking advantage of a leadoff walk, the Warriors (22-7) gained a 1-0 lead in the visiting second on Erik Marburger's RBI single.

Held to three hits in the first four innings by senior righthander John Wiedmayer, the Rams struck for three runs in the fifth, aided by a throwing error on a sacrifice-bunt play. The highlight was Ryan Markey's two-run single to left field.

After making it 3-2 in the sixth, Methacton threatened in its final at-bat.

But after Tim Carfrey drew a two-out walk and brazenly stole second and third, Simmons clinched the win with a strikeout.

Methacton 010 001 0 - 2 4 1

Spring-Ford 000 030 x - 3 7 0

WP: Conor Larkin. LP: John Wiedmayer. 2B: M-Glenn Seymour; SF-David Gulati.


robrien@phillynews.com

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