Barberio shines in debut

MUNCY – Moments after Muncy completed a 16-1, 4-inning win over Sullivan County, winning pitcher Anthony Barberio picked up a rake, walked back to the mound and began working. Pitching a terrific game was not enough.

Barberio wanted the mound to look as good as his performance. And for a pitcher making his first varsity start, what a performance it was.

Barberio threw a two-hitter and struck out 10 Wednesday and the offense erupted for 11 hits and eight first-inning runs as Muncy improved to 3-0 and won its third game in three days. The senior allowed no earned runs.

“Dawson (Fox) and Coach P (Chris Persing) taught me a lot last year about mound presence and Doug (Zehner) taught me how to throw the curveball and Tim (Colburn) and Brennan (Bonnell) showed me a lot so I’ve learned a lot the last few years waiting for this chance,” said Barberio, who will play football at Moravian next fall. “This was my chance and I had to make the most of it.”

Levi Myers and T.J. Moyle each drove in five runs while Dalton Smith and Ken Koch each reached base four times. Moyle hit a towering third-inning, three-run home run and Myers delivered his second walk-off hit in as many days, slamming a three-run, fourth-inning double to bring the 15-run mercy rule into effect.

Still, Barberio found a way to stand out on a day when the offense went off. He immediately set the game’s tone, striking out the side in the top of the first. He did a nice job hitting his spots, featured a nasty-bending curveball over the last three innings and ended his day by striking out the side in the fourth.

Barberio had to wait behind some outstanding pitchers the last few seasons but watched, learned and is now processing that information. As a Little Leaguer, Barberio simply overpowered opponents with his fastball. He soon discovered that was not a recipe for success as he grew older and the distance to home grew bigger.

The three-sport athlete can be a weapon, too, if he builds off yesterday’s performance. He adds depth and could be key in a season that will feature a condensed schedule to the season’s late start.

“I didn’t think anything of it because when I was younger I had a pretty good arm and didn’t use my legs, but Tim kept telling me to use my legs and that was a wake-up call,” Barberio said. “I have to use my legs and use the body I have, use everything I have.”

“He loves sports. He loves to compete and whatever season it is he’s going to give you everything he’s got,” Persing said. “We didn’t expect anything less from him as far as the effort out there. It was a great effort.”

Of course, having an early eight-run cushion helped, too. Muncy, which has only three seniors, opened the game with four hits and a walk. Maurice Brown (2 for 3, 3 runs) scored from first on Smith’s single just two batters into the game and the Indians rolled from there. Koch slammed an RBI double, Myers followed with a two-run single and Smith (2 for 2, 3 runs) added another RBI single as Muncy belted seven hits and sent 14 batters to the plate.

The top five hitters in Muncy’s lineup were especially potent, going a combined 9 for 12 with 14 RBIs and 11 runs. Moyle’s three-run third-inning home run put Muncy ahead 11-1 and the Indians closed the game with a five-run burst that Myers ended with his double to right-center field.

Myers is having a breakout year after struggling in 2013. The first baseman hit a two-run walk-off single in Tuesday’s 7-6 win over Millville and has seven RBIs in his last five at-bats. He worked hard in the offseason and has fixed his mechanics while starting to spray the ball all over.

“I feel a lot better this year. I’ve improved,” Myers said. “They fixed my batting stance. Last year it was all out of whack. I’m swinging a lot better this year.”

“He’s a big strong kid and he’s been predicated to being able to cover the whole plate,” said Persing who won his 201st career game. “He was kind of a one-pitch hitter before, but he worked really hard this offseason to hit the ball to the right side more consistently. His big hits are to the right side which has been great because if he can cover the whole plate he gives us a shot in the middle of the lineup to have some big things happen.”

Aaron Wheeler hit a two-run second-inning double for Sullivan which was hit hard by graduation after going a program-best 16-5 last year. The Griffins had six new starters in yesterday’s lineup.

Sullivan010 0-1 2 5

Muncy803 5-16 11 1

Conner Wylie, Taylor Baldwin (1) and Jordan Pedro. Anthony Barberio and Ken Koch. W-Barberio, (1-0). L-Wylie.

Top Sullivan hitters: Aaron Wheeler 1-2, 2B, RBI; Taylor Shenk 1-2. Top Muncy hitters: Maurice Brown 2-3, 3 R; Dalton Smith 2-2, 2 RBI, 3 R; T.J. Moyle 2-2, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R; Levi Myers 2-4, 2B, 5 RBI; Cam Good 1-2, R; Leone Ghezzi 1-2, 3 R.

Records: Muncy 3-0, 3-0 HAC-III. Sullivan County 0-1, 0-1.