Game Recap: PIAA Opening Day Doubleheader

By Greg Williams
Pennsylvania Director of Scouting

On possibly the nicest day for baseball on opening day over the past two decades a pair of games dotted the PBR early scouting docket. Following is a wrap up of the action along with a look at some of the top prospects that participated on the day.

Garnet Valley 5 West Chester 4 (8 innings)

Our first stop of the day took us to West Chester and Bob Owens Memorial Field for an 11:00 am first pitch. West Chester Henderson welcomed Garnet Valley on opening day and 2016 right-handed pitcher Michael Bechtold was on his game working four scoreless innings. The James Madison recruit faced one batter over the minimum allowing just one runner to reach base via an infield error. The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder registered four strikeouts and sat 86-87 early on before settling in comfortably in the 83-84 range. 

While Bechtold was making short work of the Henderson offense, his Garnet Valley teammates staked him to a 4-0 lead in what appeared to be his first win of the season. Henderson had other plans however rallying for three runs in the bottom of the 6th inning while sending nine batters to the plate. 

2018 shortstop Thomas Caufield got things started for Henderson in the bottom of the 7th with a one out single. The talented sophomore advanced to second on an outfield bobble setting the stage for some late inning drama. Following a pair of walks that loaded the bases senior Michael Dinacci lined a two strike single to right field for what appeared to
be a come-from-behind walk-off win. However, a perfect throw from the Garnet Valley right
Matt Lupolifielder cut down the second run at the plate sending the game to extra innings tied at four.

Garnet Valley got a leadoff triple from 2017 LHP/1B Matt Lupoli to start the 8th inning and winning pitcher Mason Miller drove him in with a double of his own. Miller set down Henderson in order in the bottom half of the frame to notch the win.

2015 PBR Future Games Team Pennsylvania member Liam Bendo, a St. Joseph's commit, went 2-for-4 with a stolen base out of the two-hole for Garnet Valley. Lupoli (2-4, 2B, 3B, R) and Miller (2-4, GW RBI, R) also shined offensively for the Jaguars.

Caufield led the Henderson offense with a 2-for-4 day that included a double and two runs scored. Junior outfielder Stephen Pugliese went 1-for-3 with a two-run double during the three-run outburst in the sixth inning.

Top Prospects:

2018 SS Thomas Caufield, West Chester Henderson
Thomas Caufield6-foot, 165-pound left-handed hitter barreled the baseball in all four at bats including a single and double to left center field. Ran 4.31 and 4.28 times to first base on hard ground outs and registered a 4.64 turn on his double. Exhibited loose hands, and a feel for the barrel with the ability to handle advanced velo. Squared up 86 mph fastball in first at bat. Advanced defender with a quick release and active feet. Excellent instincts and above average arm strength. 

2017 SS Liam Bendo, Garnet Valley
Liam Bendo6-foot, 170-pound left-handed hitter laced two singles to right in first two at bats. Stayed inside baseball for what would have been third consecutive hit but was robbed by a diving catch in left field. Showed solid arm strength, good routes and the ability to play through the baseball defensively. Handled seven chances cleanly on the day. Has shown versatility defensively with the ability to play both middle infield positions as well as third base. Plays faster than his 6.97 60-time would indicate.

2016 RHP Michael Bechtold, Garnet Valley
Michael Bechtold6-foot-3, 175-pound righty sat 86-87 early from a free and easy high 3/4 arm slot. Secondary offerings will need to be further developed, but additional velocity is likely. Curveball showed bite at times at 74-75, but at times lacked depth. Change was not used frequently and was left up in the zone when used. Retired 12 batters over four innings of work on four strikeouts, six ground balls and just two fly balls. Commanded both sides of the plate and displayed ability to throw fastball as well as curveball in all counts.

Penn Manor 6 Spring Grove 0

A little over an hour to the west our second game of the day took place at Penn Manor High School with 75 degree temperatures to begin the game at 4:15 pm. A pair of highly touted pitchers matched up for a pair of teams looking to battle for District III supremacy in 2016.

Senior right-hander Matt Brooks, a UNC Charlotte recruit, worked the first three innings for Spring Grove striking out six while allowing three hits and four unearned runs. His counterpart, 2017 lefty Jeff Taylor went six dominant innings allowing just two hits while striking out ten. The Penn State commit walked just one and only allowed two runners to reach scoring position.

Penn Manor scored three runs on just one hit in the third inning to plate all the runs they would need for the opening day victory. A walk, a misplayed third strike and an error led to the three run uprising. The Comets tacked on single runs in the next three innings to put the game out of reach.

Trent Baker2018 outfielder Trent Baker lined the second offering of the game from Taylor into left field for a single. The talented lefty did not allow another hit until Brooks lined a single to center field in the fourth. 

Colin Whiteside (3-4, RBI, R) led the Penn Manor offense while Grant Gale chipped in with a double and run scored.

Top Prospects:

2017 LHP Jeff Taylor, Penn Manor
Jeff Taylor6-foot-1, 180-pounder sat 83-84 early topping at 86 mph in the first inning. Settled in during the middle innings at 81-82, but was able to get 83-84 when he wanted it. Threw several elevated changeups, one that resulted in one of the two hits he allowed on the day. Junior's curveball is one of the best in the state. Showed two plane break at 71-73 with hard biting action to the back foot of right handed hitters. Pounds the strike zone and puts hitters away early without wasting pitches.

2016 RHP Matt Brooks, Pine Grove
Matt Brooks6-foot-2, 170-pound two-way prospect touched 86 in the first inning and settled in at 83-84. Has shown upper 80s velocity in the past. Curvevall has 11/5 rotation with sharp down action at times. Two-way prospect also went 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base at the plate. Long limbed athletic frame should continue to fill out. 


3/2 - PAISAA
3/3 - PIAA District V
3/4 - PIAA District IX
3/5 - PIAA District VI
3/6 - PIAA District IV
3/7 - PIAA District X
3/8 - PIAA District III (Class A & AA)
3/9 - PIAA District VII (Class A)
3/10 - PIAA District VII (Class AA)
3/11 - PIAA District II
3/12 - PIAA District XI
3/13 - PIAA District I (Class A, AA & AAA)
3/14 - PIAA District III (Class AAA)
3/15 - PIAA District VII (Class AAA)
3/16 - PIAA District I (Class AAAA)
3/17 - PIAA District III (Class AAAA)
3/18 - PIAA District VII (Class AAAA)
3/19 - PIAA District XII
3/20 - PAISAA Preseason Fab Four
3/21 - PIAA Class A Preseason Super 16
3/22 - PIAA Class AA Preseason Super 16
3/23 - PIAA Class AAA Preseason Super 16
3/24 - PIAA Class AAAA Preseason Super 16