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Virtuoso pitching from Anthony Bencardino and Mikey Sylvester fuels doubleheader sweep of Warrington/Horsham.

The Upper Makefield Mavs Sweep Warrington and Horsham in a Doubleheader

The Upper Makefield Mavs sweep Warrington and Horsham in a doubleheader.

It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey.

There’s always something about opening day that creates a heightened sense of excitement. Perhaps it’s the promise that spring and summer offer following a winter that bordered on the absurd. Maybe it’s the greening ball fields, the OxyClean hue of the uniforms and the chance to honor America by standing at attention along the baselines – gazing out at a season filled with opportunity.

Or, in the case of manager Lou Bencardino’s 2014 Upper Makefield 11UMavs, it just might be the evolving mantra: “Unfinished business.” Playing on George’s Field for the first time as a travel unit, the Mavs bolted from the starting gate with an 11-1 victory over a talented Warrington squad and quickly followed with a 7-1 whitewash of Horsham.

The visitors were blasted by a double-barrel shot of excellent pitching. Anthony Bencardino put the hammer down in game one, mixing speeds while making the middle of the Warrington order uncomfortable in the batter’s box. In game two, Mikey Sylvester was a strike-throwing machine, issuing first-pitch deliveries to 17 of the 20 batters he faced. The reward for that efficiency was significant, as Horsham labored simply to get runners on base.

Sylvester also made two magnificent fielding plays on the mound, one on a hot-shot comebacker and the other sitting on his back side on a pop up that had all four infielders converging around him. Following the combined 18-2 outcome, this Mavs unit has posted a 17-1-1 record in Suburban Baseball Travel League games since the start of 2013 – including last year’s league championship over archrival Valley.

The move to 50-foot mound/70-foot base path dimensions seemed to suit the Mavs from the outset. Sylvester surely felt at home, swiping six bases in the nightcap. The Mavs’ season started with a two-run first inning against Warrington ace Luke Cantwell. Josh Moss led off with a double, Collin Manel singled him home and Ryan Coolahan stroked the first of three singles to plate Sylvester (who also singled).

While Anthony struck out eight in his five innings of work, the Mavs edged ahead, 3-0, in the fourth as Dominic Edwards stole second and scored on a Josh Hampshire infield single.

The home cooking agreed with the Mavs in the bottom of the fifth, as base coaches Duane Van Arsdale and Lou Bencardino waved in eight runs. Scoring were Manel, Anthony Bencardino, Coolahan, Edwards, Devon Pollock, Zachary Van Arsdale, Hampshire, and Nicholas Taylor.

Pollock did a fine job catching for injured backstop Louis Bencardino. Van Arsdale also caught and threw out a Horsham base stealer late in game two. While Sylvester twirled three 1-2-3 innings, he also benefited from a second-inning double play and five strikeouts. The Mavs jumped on Horsham starter Jimmy Tooley for three runs in the first. Moss (single), Anthony Bencardino (single, two stolen bases) and Sylvester scored the runs.

Upper Make added two in the fourth (Pollock and Van Arsdale scoring) and two in the fifth (Sylvester and Coolahan). Edwards had an RBI groundout during the fifth-inning rally, and Moss coaxed a bases-loaded walk.

Overall, it was a crisply played doubleheader on one of the nicest days of this young spring. In typical Mavs’ fashion, everyone contributed to the winning effort. Siblings frolicked in the distance. Parents and grandparents looked on with pride.

The Mavs return to action on George’s Field at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 11, against neighboring Northampton.

Go MAVS!!!

-Written by Christopher T. Edwards

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