In the Dugout . . . With Bob Long
Bob Long, a graduate of La Salle College High School ('09), is a rising senior at Penn State University. He is the President and Founder of Bob Long Sports (http://boblongsports.com/), which is a sports website featuring opinion articles, a radio show, and much more. He joined our goofy website because he loves high school sports. He knows others do as well, which is why he's excited to report on the biggest stories in high school sports. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
CATHOLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
La Salle 10, Carroll 0 (5 inn.)
La Salle continued its march though the Philadelphia Catholic playoffs on Friday with a 10-0 win in five innings against Archbishop Carroll in the semifinals at Philadelphia University.
La Salle starter Dom Cuoci went all five innings, surrendering just four hits. Cuoci admittedly didn’t have his best stuff in this particular outing, but grinded and worked through several jams to keep Carroll scoreless.
“I had control of my fastball today, and I kept going with that, but I wasn’t always able to throw the curve where I wanted. But my coaches just told me to stick with it and keep throwing it, and it’ll come,” Cuoci said.
And stick with it he did as he fanned five Carroll hitters, a few of which were on curveballs in the dirt.
In the fourth inning with the Explorers protecting a 4-0 lead, Justin Roman hit a triple off to lead off for Carroll. With no outs in the inning, Cuoci forced a whiff on a suicide squeeze attempt that ran Roman into an out at home. This play was one of three in the game in which Carroll lost a runner on the bases.
“A game like this where it didn’t always come easy shows how hard you have to work to be the best, and we’re excited to get the win and move on to the final,” Cuoci said.
Leading 9-0 entering the bottom of the 5th, Philadelphia Catholic League Red MVP Corey Baiada singled home Marcus Sistrun to assure La Salle the 10-run lead and the win on the mercy rule.
“I went up there looking for an outside pitch. The bench and the coaches were saying that the pitch would be coming outside because [Eichacker] had been throwing outside all day. When it came I just went with the pitch and knocked [Sistrun] in.”
La Salle now moves on to play Neumann-Goretti on Tuesday at Widener University in a rematch of the 2011 PCL semifinal, which Neumann-Goretti won 18-13 in a wild game.
The La Salle players didn’t know who they would be playing next after the victory over Carroll because Neumann had not beaten Monsignor Bonner yet, but Baiada said, “Whoever we face, we’ll be ready, and we’ll be preparing extra hard in practice to be our best on Tuesday.”
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
La Salle 6, SJ Prep 0
The top seeded and currently undefeated La Salle Explorers cruised through the team’s second round matchup against St. Joseph’s Prep 6-0 behind the complete game 1-hit effort of Lehigh-bound senior Kevin Long.
Long’s one allowed hit was a 50 foot swinging bunt off the bat of Jawan McAllister in the 4th inning that hugged the 3rd base line and came to rest on the edge of the grass, and McAllister’s speed allowed him to reach first without a throw. Long faced only 2 more batters than the minimum, striking out five batters in seven innings, including two strikeouts against Florida-bound and 3-hole hitter Skyler Mornhinweg.
“I was just feeling really good. All my pitches were working for me, especially my slider. I had a lot of control and was able to get ahead of guys, and my defense played great behind me,” Long said.
Philadelphia Catholic League co-MVP Corey Baiada added 2 RBIs for the Explorers, and his double in the sixth inning helped to extend the La Salle lead to 3-0 and ignited the four run sixth for the Explorers.
Colin Pyne put away the game for La Salle in the sixth with a two run double to give the Explorers a 5-0 lead, then stole third and scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to six runs.
Long then closed the seventh inning with two groundouts and a strikeout to assure the Explorers a date with Archbishop Carroll on Friday afternoon at Philadelphia University in the PCL Semifinals.
“Carroll’s a great team this year. They’ve had a lot of success this year, so we’ll have to come out and play our best game against them to give us a chance to move on to the PCL Final,” Long said.
Prep starter Tom Mullin went 5+ innings and kept the explosive La Salle offense at bay for much of the game. Mullin allowed four runs, only two of which were earned, to a La Salle team that plated 22 runs in its previous two games.
“Tom definitely put some pressure on me, throwing a shutout through 3 innings. Whenever it’s a tie game, there’s a bit more pressure, so he did a great job and kept us on our toes for the whole game,” Long said.
La Salle’s next opponent, Archbishop Carroll, went 8-2 in the Blue Division this year and is the second seed in that division. Carroll struggled to get by Lansdale Catholic in its second round game, and escaped with a 4-3 victory in a game that was played at Archbishop Wood.
“We’re definitely excited to go out to Philadelphia University on Friday to play a tough battle against a really good team. It’ll be a fun matchup for sure,” Long concluded.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE PLAYOFF PREVIEW
The craziness has begun as Monday marks the beginning of the Philadelphia Catholic League Playoffs. Four games being played concurrently amongst the third to sixth seeds in both the Red and Blue Divisions will lead into four Tuesday games at the home fields of the top two teams in each division, who all received byes.
The action begins Monday at Lansdale Catholic as the 3rd seeded Crusaders welcome 6th seeded Bishop McDevitt to their home field. The Crusaders have depth in the pitching department with Jon Motts and Matt Kress, both of whom earned Second Team All-Catholic Honors, and with a win would face Archbishop Carroll in the second round.
Fifth seeded Conwell-Egan will travel to 4th seeded Archbishop Wood today seeking to earn a second round game, likely against reigning Catholic League Champion Neumann-Goretti. Archbishop Wood is coming off a 13-6 thumping of Archbishop Carroll, which was highlighted by six Wood home runs including two by First Team All-Catholic Honoree Tim Greenfield. In addition, Kevin Sullivan added a Grand Slam in the win. If there is a weakness for Archbishop Wood, it would be in the pitching department, but the entire Vikings team has been improving and playing good baseball in recent weeks.
In the Red Division, 6th seeded St. Joseph’s Prep will travel to 3rd seeded Cardinal O’Hara for a chance to move on and play La Salle on Tuesday. With a win for O’Hara, however, the Lions will move on to play 2nd seeded Monsignor Bonner in the second round based on re-seeding. St. Joseph’s is led by University of Florida football commit Skyler Mornhinweg, who bats in the heart of the Prep lineup and was a First Team All-Catholic Honoree. Junior pitcher Tom Mullin was Second Team All-Catholic, and he looks to push the Prep deep into the Catholic League playoffs from the 6 seed. For Cardinal O’Hara, the pitching staff is led by Mark Onimus and Nick Donovan, and these two pitchers will try to lead the Lions past St. Joseph’s and to a matchup against Monsignor Bonner on Tuesday.
Fourth seeded Archbishop Ryan will host 5th seeded Father Judge on Tuesday, and depending upon the winner of the Prep and O’Hara, the winner could face either 2nd seeded Monsignor Bonner or top-seeded and currently undefeated La Salle. Father Judge has been scrambling in the pitching department recently and is coming off a sweep at the hands of La Salle. Archbishop Ryan also fell in a sweep the week before at the hands of La Salle and then closed the regular season with two consecutive losses to Cardinal O’Hara. This matchup will be one between two struggling teams looking to change their luck and will be one of the most interesting games of the day.
Stay tuned for more previews and game reports throughout the High School Playoff season!