SPRING-FORD 3, METHACTON 2
When he was younger, Conor Larkin many times pictured himself 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 tabbed the starter against Methacton in a PIAA Class AAAA state quarterfinal, he expected that to happen later in his high school career.
Larkin handled the pressure in impressive fashion, striking out seven in six innings to help the Rams edge their Pioneer Athletic Conference rival, 3-2, in 1 hour, 41 minutes at Neumann University in Aston.
The 15-year-old was informed by coach Bruce Brobst that he would get start against Methacton, marking his first taste of varsity ball, 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 changeup while allowing four hits and walking three. He threw 90 pitches, with 54 for strikes.
Larkin, a pitcher and infielder for Spring-Ford's jayvee squad, said a 1-2-3 first inning, with only 10 pitches, served as a "confidence builder."
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 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 semifinal, at a site and time to be determined, vs. either La Salle or Hazleton.
Larkin's brothers, Sean and Dan, are now playing at Cedarville University in Ohio. As a righthanded hurler and first baseman, Sean was a member of Spring-Ford's 2011 team that reached the state final before losing to Conestoga.
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, aided by a throwing error on a sacrifice-bunt play, struck for three runs in the fifth. The highlight was Ryan Markey's two-run single to left field.
After making it 3-2 in the sixth, Methacton, which was without two injured starters, 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.