By Phil Anastasia
Pitchers dream about powering through lineups.
They don't dream about dancing out of danger.
But there comes a time for every guy who takes the mound when he has to make good pitches in tough situations.
Washington Township junior Chris Haruch found himself in that predicament in the first inning of Saturday's game against Millville in the opening round of the Grand Slam Classic.
And in the second inning.
And in the third, fourth and fifth, too.
"It was good to battle," Haruch said after Washington Township's 8-1 victory on a sunny, breezy afternoon.
Senior first baseman Mark Scarpa rapped an RBI double and senior shortstop Colin McAllister delivered a two-run single in a six-run first inning rally for Washington Township (7-1).
The Minutemen, who will face the Vineland-Cinnaminson winner in Monday's semifinals, took advantage of six walks to send 11 batters to the plate and take a 6-0 lead in the top of the first.
"It's a coach's cliche but you can't give a good team like that one or two (walks) much less six like we did in the first," Millville coach Roy Hallenbeck said.
Gabe Rosado hit a lead-off home run and Robert Rivera and Harry Montero hit doubles for Millville (4-4).
The Thunderbolts outhit the Minutemen, 6-5, and put runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings.
But after surrending Rosado's lead-off home run, Haruch found a way to work out of trouble time and again.
"We're a pitching and defense team," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "When he (Haruch) needed to, he hit his spots."
Haruch was backed by a solid defense that ended two innings with double plays, both with the bases loaded.
After Rosado's home run, Haruch worked out of a two-on, none-out jam in the first. In the second, he escaped bases-loaded, one-out trouble as second baseman Mike Hammond speared Rivera's line drive and tossed to shortstop McAllister for the third out.
In the third and fourth, Millville got a runner to second with one out and didn't score. In the fifth, the Thunderbolts loaded the bases with no outs, but Haruch got a strikeout, then induced a grounder that McAllister turned into an inning-ending double play.
"My defense was huge," Haruch said.
Haruch entered the game with a 2-0 record and 11 scoreless innings this season. He had powered through two lineups in his first two games.
This game was different. The right-hander pitched six innings, allowing six hits with two walks and a hit batter. He struck out five -- four with runners in scoring position.
"I was facing hitters who really challenged me," Haruch said of Millville's lineup. "It was good to see that I could get out of it."
Washington Twp. 602 000 0 -- 8 5 2
Millville 100 000 0 -- 1 6 2
WP: Chris Haruch. LP: Calvin Clark.
2B: WT-Mark Scarpa; M-Robert Rivera, Harry Montero.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com
-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter