Guided by manager Kai Jacobs, baseball clinches PAISAA title

Haverford beats Malvern in the PAISAA Championship – Mike Nance

Sixth Former Kai Jacobs managed the soccer, basketball, and baseball teams for a combined eight seasons before heading into the baseball season this spring. He had not yet won an Inter-Ac or State Championship. On Saturday, May 28, that all changed when the baseball team took down Malvern Prep in the state championship game at Villanova Ballpark. 

“I always felt like a lot of the teams I worked with had this potential,” Jacobs said. “But everything happens for a reason, and I feel like all the adversity this team went through made the victory even more special.” 

What this team has gone through in just this season makes this triumph even more impressive.

When the group returned to full strength late in the spring, the team began to find its stride. Many of them felt like their home win over Episcopal Academy was a major turning point. Jacobs felt that the win over Episcopal signified something much bigger.

“[Episcopal was] competing for the Inter-Ac championship with Malvern. When we knocked them out of contention, we knew we could compete in the PAISAA tournament,” Jacobs said. 

The Fords finished the Inter-Ac season with a record of 3-7 and were seeded seventh in a field of twelve teams who would compete for the PAISAA championship. 

Many players felt the urge to prove that they were better than their seeding suggested.

“I think we all knew what we were capable of going into the playoffs though, so we wanted to show people.”

Mark Quatrani ’23

“I think we all knew what we were capable of going into the playoffs though, so we wanted to show people,” Quatrani said. 

Jacobs said, “The seven-seed motivated us to work harder and show we were better than the seed implied.” 

The Fords opened the tournament with a resounding 5-0 win against Mercersburg Academy, where Sixth Form leader Colby McNeely pitched seven scoreless innings en route to a relatively trouble-free win. They then drew Episcopal Academy in the quarter-finals, where sophomores Ian White and Kevin Reavey stepped up, holding the Churchmen to only three runs over seven innings, while the Fords offense powered to a 6-3 victory. 

The team then matched up with Penn Charter, where Colby McNeely again started for the Fords, this time limiting the Penn Charter offense to only three runs through five innings. Due to their low seeding, the Fords were the away team in all but one of their matchups in the state tournament. Their closing pitcher, Kevin Reavey, in both the Episcopal and Penn Charter games, helped shut the door in the final two innings, where both Episcopal and Penn Charter had chances to walk it off and send the Fords home.

Haverford beats Malvern in the PAISAA Championship – Mike Nance

Matched up with Malvern Prep in the state championship with both Ian White and Colby McNeely unavailable to start for the Fords, the coaching staff turned to Fifth Former Jac Campbell. Jac’s outing in the state championship was spectacular. He held the high-powered Malvern Prep offense to only one run in seven innings. The offense struggled early but picked it up in the fourth inning to score the two decisive runs. The Malvern offense couldn’t seem to pick up Campbell’s trademark off-speed pitch, as they continuously flailed at the pitches and produced weak contact that the Fords defense handled without error. 

The Fords won by a score of 2-1 in one of the most thrilling contests this year.

“Our win represents overcoming a lot of adversity to get to the top. Everyone stepped into their role on the team, and we all came together to make a playoff run.”

Mark Quatrani ’23

“Our win represents overcoming a lot of adversity to get to the top. Everyone stepped into their role on the team, and we all came together to make a playoff run,” Quatrani said. “It was not the perfect season by any means, but everyone put the past behind them and started playing for each other. I’ll remember this team’s resilience, toughness, and determination.”