MALVERN PREP 7, PENN CHARTER 5
Dan Grandieri is enjoying his final days at Malvern Prep, as evidenced by his free-swinging approach at the plate and the long locks flowing out of his cap.
"I haven't cut my hair since September," the 18-year-old said. "It's my last year of high school. You have to do something like this at least once in your life, right?"
With the laid-back Grandieri contributing a pair of hits, the Friars took a big step toward earning their fourth consecutive Inter-Ac League crown by handing Penn Charter a 7-5 defeat Tuesday afternoon in East Falls.
Grandieri and company, improving to 6-2 in league action, gained sole possession of first place. "This is exactly where we wanted to be, in front and in control of our own destiny," the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder said.
Of reversing a 5-1 loss to PC, Malvern coach Freddy Hilliard said of the 5-3 Quakers, "That's a heck of a team. They made a couple of runs at us. Luckily, we were able to answer each of them."
As a designated hitter, Grandieri, who also plays first base, went 2 for 3. In the first inning, his two-run single to center field gave the visitors a 3-0 advantage.
"It was a 1-0 fastball," Grandieri said. "It was a pretty good pitch to hit. I was just looking to take it wherever [PC freshman Matt Gorman] threw it."
Grandieri, of Media, is the youngest of five boys. The oldest two, Fran and Chris, starred in hoops at Cardinal O'Hara. The next in line, Brian, did the same at Malvern and went on to play at Penn.
"I played basketball as a freshman and sophomore at Malvern," Dan Grandieri said. "I was a power forward who couldn't jump. I knew I was better at baseball."
His other brother, Tom, played both sports at Malvern and concentrated on baseball at Penn. He is now a baseball assistant at Inter-Ac rival Episcopal Academy.
"Dan and his brothers are gamers, all good guys to be around," said Malvern skipper Freddy Hilliard, who was an assistant when Tom (Class of 2006) was with the Friars.
In a three-run fifth that put Malvern (20-5 overall) ahead by 7-2, Grandieri singled and scored on Parker Abate's two-run single. The Quakers (16-5) responded with three runs of their own in the bottom half.
Malvern starter Gardner Nutter and reliever Chris Butera, who came on in the fourth after Nutter's pitch count reached 70, combined for eight strikeouts. In the seventh, after Zach Kurtz (3 for 3, two RBIs) laced a one-out double to right, Butera induced a pair of fly-ball outs.
"That's been a great pitching combo for us," said Grandieri, who plans to be a walk-on player and study business at St. Joseph's. "We're going to ride them as far as they'll take us."
Malvern's 11-hit total was aided by Abate (2 for 4), Tim Quinn (2 for 3), and Mike Styer (2 for 2).
PC's Gabe Smith opened the sixth with a double to left-center but, after rounding too far around second, was punched out in a rundown.
Grandieri will be joined at St. Joseph's by teammate Matt Maul, a senior shortstop who delivered an RBI single down the right-field line (the home-plate umpire ruled that the ball found the chalk) in the fourth.
Malvern Prep 300 130 0-7 11 3
Penn Charter 011 030 0-5 10 1
WP: Gardner Nutter. LP: Matt Gorman. 2B: PC-Zach Kurtz 2, T.J. Pagan, Gabe Smith.