Devon Prep's season took a turn for the worse when ace pitcher Zach Schellenger was shelved with a strained flexor muscle in early April. Then, No. 2 hurler Sean Phelan experienced elbow tendinitis.
In high school baseball, where quality pitching goes a long way, that put the Tide's bid for success in a precarious position.
"That's a lot for a team to deal with," Devon coach Mark Aquilante said. "We had to figure out a different way to win. We had a lot of younger players who had to step up and contribute."
The Tide handled the adversity well. Thursday at Penncrest, boosted by junior righthander Pat Rohr, they captured the PIAA District 1 Class A championship with a 7-0 blanking of Bicentennial Athletic League rival Calvary Christian.
Rohr, who started the year as the No. 3 pitcher, pitched a two-hitter with five strikeouts. He mixed a fastball clocked in the mid-80s-m.p.h range, curveball, and change-up.
"He locates his fastball, changes speeds, and keeps the ball down," Aquilante said. "Because he throws a ton of strikes, he's easy to play behind."
In a sixth-run fifth inning against the Cougars, junior rightfielder and No. 8 batter Tyler Klicka blasted a three-run shot over the left-field fence to make it 5-0.
Schellenger, a Seton Hall recruit and possible selection in next week's first-year player draft, has not pitched off the mound since his injury. He is throwing long-toss.
Aquilante credits the senior righthander, who is unlikely to return for the state tournament, for working with the Tide's other pitchers, including sophomore lefthander John McSurdy.
Phelan, a junior lefthander who doubles as a first baseman, returned to the mound recently. The Penn recruit is available as a reliever. Also in the rotation is senior righthander C.J. Kohlbrenner.
Devon Prep has been led on offense by sophomore second baseman Tony Gallo (.414 average, 20 RBIs, 13 runs), junior catcher and Boston College recruit Dominic Hardaway (.411, 23, 20), and Phelan (.389, 24, 21).
Monday, at a neutral site and time to be determined, the Tide (12-8) will face District 3 runner-up York Catholic (11-10) in the first round of states. McSurdy (2-2, 2.75 ERA) is scheduled to start.
Erstwhile skier. Jake Bufo, a senior lefthander who was scheduled to start for Conestoga Friday in a District 1 Class AAAA third-place game vs. Spring-Ford, first made a name for himself on the ski slopes.
A downhill racer for Camelback Mountain since he was 7, Bufo was part of Pennsylvania's alpine team the last six years. He gave up competing this year to concentrate on pitching for the Pioneers.
Entering Friday's consolation game, Bufo was 5-0 with a 0.36 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 36 innings. He was a second-team all-Central League selection.
Extra bases. With last Saturday's sweep of Haverford School and Perkiomen School, Malvern Prep claimed the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament. The Friars, led by ace righthander Gardner Nutter, finished 27-9. . . . Cheltenham's Max Perilstein and Kevin Graham batted .469 and .426, respectively. Teammate Calvin Salazar went 8-1 with a 1.24 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 442/3 innings.
Perkiomen School shortstop Joseph Pena hit .576 with 28 runs and 17 RBIs. He is bound for St. Thomas Aquinas, a Division II school in Sparkhill, N.Y. . . . Friends' Central's Bryan Rubin went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA and 37 Ks in 392/3 innings.
Church Farm's Luiny Monegro batted .500 with 22 RBIs and 17 runs. . . . Penncrest's Matt Briner hit .533. On the mound, he was 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA . . . For Episcopal Academy, Mark Washington went 4-2 with a 2.67 ERA and 42 Ks in as many innings.