Pennsbury beats Neshaminy for berth in district baseball final

Billy Bethel's all-business approach was evident in his first trip to the mound as he retired the side in order on six pitches.

In arguably his best and most efficient effort of the season, the Pennsbury senior righthander limited Neshaminy to three hits in Tuesday afternoon's PIAA District 1 Class 6A semifinal playoff.

Bethel's complete-game outing, along with a pair of RBIs off Kyle Dear's bat, lifted the host Falcons to a 2-0 victory over the Redskins a contest that lasted 1 hour, 21 minutes in an intermittent drizzle.

"I was just trying to throw first-pitch strikes," said Bethel, who tossed only 66 pitches, with 49 for strikes, in upping his record to 8-2.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder mixed a fastball, curveball, and change-up while giving up three singles. He kept Neshaminy from advancing anyone past first base.

"He's a big-game pitcher, the type of kid who rises to the occasion," Pennsbury coach Joe Pesci said. "You couldn't have asked for a gutsier performance."

Bethel and the Falcons (17-6) will try for their first district championship since 1993 at 4 p.m. Thursday at Immaculata University. They will take on the survivor of Wednesday's semifinal between Perkiomen Valley and North Penn.

The Perkiomen Valley-North Penn contest was postponed Tuesday due to rain. "For us, it's nice to have an extra day of preparation," Pesci said.

Tuesday marked the third meeting between Neshaminy and Pennsbury. The Suburban One League National Conference rivals and Bucks County neighbors split regular-season games.

Bethel, who has struck out 54 and walked 13 in 572/3 innings, suffered a 1-0 home loss to the Redskins (16-7) on April 18. He evened things in a 6-1 road triumph on May 8.

In the second inning of Tuesday's rubber match, Dear drove home David Murphy (leadoff single) with a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Falcons a 1-0 edge.

Dear, a first baseman who broke out of a recent slump, provided an insurance run in the fourth with a double to left that plated Ryan McCarty.

Bethel, who plays second or third base when not pitching, is bound for Chestnut Hill College. "It felt like a second home on my visit there," he said.

The 17-year-old's father, Bill, played baseball at West Catholic (class of 1989) and Widener. His eighth-grade brother, Ryan, will soon be an infielder for Pennsbury.

Neshaminy 000 000 0 - 0 3 0

Pennsbury 010 100 x - 2 4 1

WP: Billy Bethel. LP: Zach Boop. 2B: P-Kyle Dear.

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