John Knebels
Sports Columnist

The sounds you have heard coming from the local parks are batted balls replacing dribbling basketballs.

Which could only mean one thing … spring has finally arrived.

While rainouts have already wreaked some havoc with the early schedule, a host of games involving Catholic high school teams – albeit mostly against non-league competition – have been played. The following is a capsule round-up of what has occurred so far. {{more}}

* In Archbishop Carroll’s 14-6 victory at Roman Catholic, six Patriots belted homers (including three in a row) to make a winner out of Eric McGough. Roman, which led by 5-2 before a 12-run fifth for Carroll ended any suspense, received home runs by junior Paolo Gamburo and senior Rich Houck.

Carroll then defeated West Catholic, 14-2, as scorching hot McGough smashed a three-run homer in the second inning (his third of the year) and a three-run double in the third.

* Pope John Paul II scored in every inning to dispel Methacton, 12-1, making a winner out of A.J. Koscelansky.

* Meanwhile, Monsignor Bonner stopped Eastern, 2-0, as Matt Hudash pitched five innings to grab the win.

* At Father Judge, a two-run single by Mike McLaughlin in the second inning and lights-out pitching by junior Rob Walmsley helped the Crusaders to a 10-0 shellacking of George Washington.

* Neumann-Goretti broke open a tight game by scoring five runs in the fifth en route to a 9-1 win at Conwell-Egan. Junior Joey Gorman hurled six innings and struck out 13 to get the win. Senior standout Mike Zolk contributed three hits, three runs, and two runs batted in.

* LaSalle cruised to a 15-0 win over visiting Lansdale Catholic. Junior Corey Baiada knocked in six runs.

* Undaunted, Lansdale Catholic rebounded the next day (April 4) by stopping Bishop McDevitt, 15-0. Junior John Motts allowed only one hit and struck out seven. Stefan Swaintek knocked in four runs while sophomore teammate Tyler Smith knocked home three more via a double and a triple.

* A week earlier, McDevitt enjoyed a 5-4 win over Mariana Bracetti Academy. Dan Affleck provided the winning runs with a two-run single in the seventh, making a winner out of pitcher Kevin Moran.

* Malvern Prep scored a pair of runs in four of the first five innings and toppled host St. Joseph’s Prep, 9-3. Junior Nick Bateman laced three hits, including a triple and a home run. Junior Joe Ravert notched the pitching victory.

* Roman Catholic’s 19-1 victory over Mercy Vocational High School was aided by Matt Stoffere’s grand slam home run. Half of Roman’s 12 hits were of the extra base variety.

* Archbishop Wood upended Cardinal O’Hara, 8-4. Kyle McCrossen, Brady McNab and Jeff Courter had two hits apiece.

* Behind strong pitching by Ryan Filipowicz (10 strikeouts and two runs allowed over five innings), Holy Ghost Prep jumped to an 8-0 lead and stopped Lower Moreland, 13-5. Jim McDade’s grand slam in the sixth inning sealed the deal. Andrew Whitten added a pair of doubles.

The Firebirds’ pitching staff then took over for the next two games. First was a 5-0 win over Phil-Mont Christian, as Jake Bolvin allowed four hits in four innings while Andre Whitten knocked in two runs with a bases-loaded double in the fourth.

The Firebirds then walloped MaST Charter, 15-0, amassing 14 hits over five innings to raise their record to 4-0 overall, 3-0 in the Bicentennial League.

Another Bicentennial Lea-gue team, Devon Prep, is also off to a fast start. The Tide whipped Church Farm, 10-0, squeezed by Morrisville, 12-11, and then blanked Calvary Christian, 6-0, all in the span of four days. Headliners included John Laprise, who smacked two homers against Morrisville, and Ben Jonik, who shut out Calvary Christian on three hits.

John Knebels can be reached at