HADDON TWP.-- Haddon Township gained an important early advantage in the Colonial Conference Patriot Division on Wednesday.
The Hawks fended off a late challenge from Gateway to move to 4-0 win an 8-5 victory on home soil.
“It’s a big win because it puts us at 4-0 and we’re sitting on top of everyone so now everyone is looking to beat us and we’re the team to beat,” Haddon Township pitcher Justin Merryfield said.
Merryfield created the first bit of momentum for the Hawks in the first inning, when he stranded runners on second and third with a pair of strikeouts.
“We were ready to play,” Merryfield said.
Chad Ball, who had three hits for the Hawks, delivered his first run-scoring hit to open the scoring, and he was quickly driven in by Brennan Marsh’s RBI base knock .
“(The first hit) definitely boosts my confidence,” Ball said. “I knew what he was going to throw me. He threw me one curveball, it was the first pitch I got and it was in the dirt. I knew I was going to get fastballs.”
Gateway provided an answer in the second inning through a three-run rally powered by Gavin Alloway’s two-run single, but the Hawks put together an immediate response.
Haddon Township didn’t relinquish the lead after a four-run second that was sparked by another RBI hit from Ball and a hit off the bat of Merryfield that forced an error that produced a pair of runs.
“It’s really important for our team because once we get on a good track, we tend to carry it over throughout the innings and keep the lead,” Merryfield said. “We really did a good job of that today.”
Gateway continued to chip away at Haddon Township’s lead, but a two-run sixth allowed Aaron Johnston to step back on the mound for his second inning of relief and shut down the Gators.
“I’m trying to mostly hit my spots, hit the outside corner,” Johnston said. “My best attribute as a pitcher is hitting the outside corner. I was making pitches.The off speed was working and mostly location, and my velocity will come with that.”
“It always helps to get a little insurance, but either way, I’ve been pitching a while I don’t really get nervous. I go out there and have fun with it.”
The victory moved the Hawks to 3-0 in the division, and those results have helped them gain more confidence with every game.
“We’re very confident,” Johnston said. “We’ve bonded very well the whole offseason, whole preseason and now we’re family. We’re feeling very confident in each other and ourselves. We’re going to keep it rolling.”
G: 030 011 0-5
HT: 240 002 x-8
WP: Justin Merryfield LP: Ryan Dipper SV: Aaron Johnston
2B: HT: Nick Squazzo, Chad Ball