LEGION BASEBALL: Offensive struggles sink JP Mascaro in Region 3 Tournament opener

JP Mascaro’s Ben Christian pitched well despite the loss to Nether Providence in their Pa. American Legion Region 3 Tournament game on Friday, July 19, 2019. (Ed Morlock/MediaNews Group)

UPPER PROVIDENCE — It wasn’t the start JP Mascaro imagined.

Pitcher Ben Christian and the Haulers allowed three runs in the bottom of the first inning and that proved to be too much for the Greater Norristown American Legion champions to overcome.

JP Mascaro lost 4-0 to Nether Providence in the first round of the Region 3 tournament Friday afternoon at Ram Stadium at Spring-Ford High School.

The reason the early three-run deficit was too great was because of Nether Providence pitcher Tristan Corcoran. The right-hander allowed just two hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out seven batters to no walks.

“He was good,” Christian said. “He was locating his fastball and breaking ball really good. His breaking ball was great, 12-6, had a lot of movement and he was just keeping us off-balance.”

“With the (GNALBL) playoffs last week I think we went through the loser’s bracket, gave it our all, won it on Tuesday night,” Mascaro manager Lucas Denczi said. “The couple days off we weren’t able to get together — guys doing different things like working, different commitments. We came out a little flat today.”

Christian took the loss, allowing four runs — three in the first inning and one in the second — on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three batters to one walk.

Christian walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the first and a wild pick-off throw landed the runner on third base. Three of the next four batters singled — two of those base hits bringing in runs — and another got hit by a pitch. A bases-loaded no-out double play scored the third run to make it 3-0.

“I thought I was making some good pitches,” Christian said. “They were putting the bat on the ball pretty good. They were sitting fastball pretty early in the game, so I had to mix it up. I got a couple big outs in the second and third inning. First inning went a little rough, but it’s alright. We’re coming back (Saturday).”

After allowing a run in the second inning, Christian kept the Bulldogs bats quiet in the third and exited after recording one out and allowing a single in the fourth.

“After the first inning I started mixing in more curveballs,” Christian said, “starting guys off, working them a little backwards, mixing in my changeup here and there. Just not starting first-pitch fastball because they were sitting on it.”

Exiting the game kept Christian’s pitch-count low enough that he will be eligible to throw Monday if the Haulers make it that far. They will be playing elimination games the rest of the tournament, starting Saturday at 1 p.m. against the loser of Yardley-Morrisville and Spring City.

“The boys played well all year,” Denczi said. “I’ve got no doubt in my mind they can again do the same thing (as GNALBL playoffs) and run through the loser’s bracket and put a couple games together with a couple wins. We seem to play better when we’re playing everyday. Let’s see if we can put a roll together.”

Chad Evans and Richard McDonald came on in relief for Mascaro. Evans threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out one batter, walking one and allowing one hit. McDonald threw a scoreless sixth inning despite allowing two hits.

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