Methacton's Christian gets final say against Boyertown

By DAVE KURTZ

WORCESTER - It all began on April 2, 2016 when Methacton freshman right-hander Ben Christian took the ball for the first time against perennial PAC powerhouse Boyertown.

Facing the Bears – who would eventually go on to capture the PIAA Class AAAAAA state title that season – was a baptism of fire for Christian, who acquitted himself well in a 2-0 loss, going the distance (six innings) while allowing just three hits, one earned run and one walk against four strikeouts.

Fast forward four years later and Christian was there again, facing Boyertown, for the 10th time in his scholastic career – this time with the season on the line in the second round of the District 1-AAAAAA playoffs at Robert Morris Childress Memorial Field Wednesday.

Christian, a Division I Lehigh University commit, showed his mettle and experience and earned the final say in his longstanding dual with Boyertown, delivering big time with six strong innings in an 8-2 Methacton victory to run his season record to 3-0 against the Bears and 4-3 for his career.

“I’ve faced Coach (Todd) Moyer and Boyertown eight or 10 times over the years and it’s always been a lot of fun,” said Christian, who has won his last four decisions over Boyertown after going 0-3 at the start of his career. “I was working the breaking ball in with the fastball and that seemed to be working pretty well. The guys were excited to get back out on the field and go against Boyertown.”

Coming off a disappointing 9-2 loss to Spring-Ford in the PAC semifinals after capturing the first PAC Liberty Division title in program history, Methacton used a six-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to seize control.

Christian’s two-run double snapped a 2-2 deadlock before Kevin Trafford added an RBI-single and Perry Corda unloaded the bases with a three-run double to deep center off reliever Jared Waldman. Corda showed his resiliency with the clutch hit following three strikeouts in his previous at-bats.

“It wasn’t just three strikeouts,” said Methacton coach Paul Spiewak. “Two of them came in huge situations when it felt like the game was on the line.

“But Perry is the heart and soul of this team and he showed how much he wants this, like our entire team.”

The Warriors will host fifth-seeded Downingtown East – 2-1 winners over PAC entry Owen J. Roberts – Friday at 4 pm in the district quarterfinals with a state playoff berth hanging in the balance.

For Boyertown, which finished at 15-7, it was solid season on the heels of their 2018 PAC championship.

“We had lost 13 players, and got off to a little bit of a slow start because the kids were getting used to varsity action,” said Moyer, whose club entered play with a six-game winning streak. “But we came around nice, and I thought we were playing as well as anybody at the end of the season. Today, it was just that one bad inning that cost us.”

The Bears main losses this season to graduation will be shortstop Chris Davis, who had two hits and scored both runs Wednesday, catcher Billy Coleman (two-out, RBI-single that momentarily locked things up at 2-2 in the fifth inning), left fielder Sean Sutterby, third baseman Shayn Horrocks and Nolan Kline, who pitched six shutout innings in an 8-2 opening-round win over Council Rock South Monday.

Returning will be high-ceiling sophomore right-hander Trey Yesavage, who struck out nine in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday while absorbing the loss, first baseman Cole Hertzler and center fielder Derick Basile, who, like teammates Davis and Yesavage, picked up a pair of hits.

All that aside, this day belonged to Christian, Corda and the rest of the Warriors.

“I thought we played really well defensively,” said Spiewak. “And to have Ben in this game – I felt extremely happy to hand him the ball in a huge game.

“There were a lot of innings when he was in trouble. But instead of being nervous, I thought he turned it up a notch. You could tell that with his body language and mannerisms.

“We were disappointed not getting to the PAC championship game, but this team has other goals to meet, and we haven’t reached them yet.”

EXTRA BASES: “Every time we play Boyertown, it’s a big game,” said Trafford, who added a pair of walks to his RBI-single in the fifth. “It was a tough loss (to Spring-Ford), but we gave it our all today.” … Christian’s career stats vs. Boyertown by our calculations: 10 games pitched, 4 wins, 3 losses, 44 2/3 innings, 38 hits, 21 runs, 14 earned runs, 25 walks, 52 strikeouts, 2.19 ERA … Methacton, which strung together 13 straight wins during the season, improved to 16-6… In the opening round of districts last season, Boyertown posted a 3-0 win over Methacton. “It’s always bittersweet when we eliminate somebody from our conference,” said Spiewak. “We take a lot of pride in our conference and are always hoping for the other teams to go far.”