UPPER SOUTHAMPTON — With each outing, Mike Iller feels better and better on the mound, and the defending champs keep picking up steam.
Iller threw six strong innings on Thursday night and the Horsham Astros locked down a 5-3 victory over the Bucks County Blue Jays at Gravel Hill Road.
"The change-up was working well and the fastball was grooving in there," said Iller, who allowed two runs off of four hits while striking out six with one hit batter in a winning effort.
The victory lifted the Astros' record to 13-9, with a home game against Upper Moreland on deck for Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We're clicking," Iller said. "We're playing pretty decently and we're gonna be hard to beat. It's getting hot out here but we just gotta keep chugging."
Iller also contributed at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a walk, a sacrifice, and two RBI.
"I was seeing the ball pretty decently," he said. "I wished I could have gotten under it a little bit more but a hit's a hit and a win's a win."
The Blue Jays (8-14) scored in their first at-bat.
Dylan Jackson was hit by a pitch, from starter Ryan Schamming, and Mason Fisher flared a single to right to put runners at the corners.
Jake Houk (3-for-4, RBI) legged out an infield single, allowing Jackson to race home for a 1-0 lead.
Horsham pushed ahead in the third against right hander Ryan Schaming.
Brandon Newcomb lined a single to center to lead things off and Dennis Higgins (two runs scored) drew a walk.
With one out, Mike Kelly's RBI single to left tied things up, and with two outs, Iller, who had taken the mound in the second, smacked a single to center to put the Astros in front, 2-1.
After the Jays evened things up at two apiece in the fourth, when Anthony Zupito (double) scored on a ground ball by Tyler Farrell, Horsham again took control in the fifth.
Mike Kerns' double off the wall in left was sandwiched in between walks by Higgins and Mike Kelly.
Luke Piontek and Stafano Garofalo each had sac flies for the Astros to make it a 4-2 advantage.
Bucks County tightened things up in the sixth.
Pinch hitter Steve Sable came through by smacking an RBI double to the gap in right center, bringing the Jays within 4-3.
But fittingly, Iller contributed again, his sacrifice fly to right scoring Kelly (walk) to provide more breathing room at 5-3.
Iller struck out Jackson to start the seventh, got Fisher to fly out, and after Houk reached on an error, the right hander got Evan Urglaviteh to ground out to first to end it.
The Blue Jays host Rake Baseball Academy Sunday at 11 a.m.