On the Trail
PIAA CLASS AAAA FINAL
La Salle 3, Council Rock South 1
At Penn State
Back in Kevin Long’s hometown of Horsham, or somewhere else, a beautiful young lass must have been waiting for him. ‘Cause this dude was pitchin’ at warp speed! Not so much the pitches themselves, though his fastballs did have respectable juice. We’re talking about how quickly he worked. A few times, the sr. RH was delivering the ball three seconds after snagging it from sr. C Corey Baiada. OK, maybe four. When a kid works that quickly and is having control problems, an observer’s main thought is automatic: He needs to slow down. When the kid’s throwing strikes, THIS thought is also automatic: Work even faster! This is great! After Long today pitched the Explorers to a state title, he mentioned that the umpire gave him an acceptable strike zone, especially toward the bottom, whereas the ump in Monday’s state semi had called pitches tighter. In that one, Long had some free-pass issues and wound up pitching six innings before yielding to soph RH Dom Cuoci, also a SS. The Cootchster warmed up today as La Salle batted in the visiting seventh, but coach Joe Parisi had no intention of removing Long, short of an implosion. No wonder. Long had retired nine in a row and 12 of 13 and he zipped through the ninth in very rapid fashion and then . . . let the celebration begin! The pics are all posted and some of the specifics are mentioned in the SportsWeek story (only one dollar at a store near you; come on, you can afford it – smile) and, well, they were all cool to see. Like the first Catholic League team to win a state title (Carroll, basketball, 2008-09), the Explorers did not win the league title. But they stunned N-G in a state playoff and rolled onward to state AAA honors. These guys fell to N-G in the CL chip, but the teams were members of different classifications. La Salle won the AAAA City Title over Frankford and stormed to four more triumphs in the state tourney. Long was masterful. Incredibly, he pitched a three-hitter even though the second and third batters of the game reached him for singles. That early uh-oh was compounded by a passed ball and CR South had men on second and third with one away. Long fanned the next guy and got the third out on a grounder to sr. 1B Chris Melillo and what a mental/emotional lift that success must have given him. The only other hit was a looping double down the rightfield line with two away in the second. An HBP followed, but Long (eight Ks, one walk) induced a flyball to sr. RF Tyler Kozeniewski to thwart that threat. The run against him was unearned. In the fifth, the leadoff guy sent a liner to center. Sr. CF Ryan Otis had some problems with judgment and footwork and the ball wound up being scored a three-base error. A sac fly followed and that was the first out of the 12 to finish the game. La Salle tallied one run in the second and two in the fourth. Second: Kozeniewski drew a leadoff walk and sr. 3B Mike Piscopo received credit for a single off a shot that ate up the first baseman. Sr. 2B Colin Pyne followed a low liner to center that bagged him an RBI. Fourth: Baiada scorched a leadoff double into right-center. Kozeniewski hit the ball to the shortstop and an attempt to catch frosh courtesy runner Jim Herron was made at third. Didn’t work. Piscopo then sent a hard single to right-center for one RBI. Pyne’s bunt moved up both runners and Cuoci followed by stinging an RBI single to left-center. Parisi flashed a squeeze sign to Long, but Kevin missed it. Afterward, he said it must have been sent his way while he was distracted by orders from the plate ump to get back in the box. Piscopo got hung out to dry and was tagged out a short distance from third. Long then was rung up and, thankfully, the snafu did not wind up providing pain and sorrow. Aside from glancing at his strikeout totals, a sign of Long’s dominance can be had by checking a scoresheet. Mine, for instance (smile). Kozeniewski had five putouts and Melillo notched three more on foul popups. Most if not all of South’s hitters were righties, so obviously they were swinging late and/or getting bad looks at the pitches. This La Salle team was a fun one to cover and congrats to all, coaches and players alike! The day’s one downer came when I checked email and found out that Inter-Ac/Indy fell in its Carpenter Cup Classic quarterfinal. Would have been cool to visit CBP for a semi and maybe a final, as well. That result means -- except for the All-City squad, which will appear sometime next week -- my 41st school year of covering scholastic sports is in the books. Great fun, as always! Thanks for paying attention!
CARPENTER CUP CLASSIC FIRST ROUND
Delaware County 9, Public League 3
At Richie Ashburn Field
In his pregame comments to the Pub squad, coach Juan Namnun (Frankford) perhaps tried to go the reverse-black-cat route. He mentioned that the Pub has a tendency to do well through six-seven innings in the Carpenter Cup, and then experience problems. Uh, oh. Guess what happened today? Exactly that! The score after seven innings was 3-3, but Delco posted one run in the eighth (with the help of an infield error) and five more in the ninth (mostly due to walks, some shots, a miscue and two sac flies). Thus, the Pub’s lifetime Triple C record is 1-27 (only win in 1990) and the average margin of defeat remains pretty darn close to seven (6.8). The weirdest part of this tilt: the Pub’s top two programs were almost completely absent! Frankford had graduation at 1 o’clock at the football stadium and the five Carp Cup members did not arrive until the top of the seventh. Carp rules prohibit players from seeing action in more than six innings, but game officials let the Pub slide for the top of the seventh (defense) as three starters – sr. CF Joshua Fontanez (Edison), jr. SS Aderly Perez (Esperanza) and soph OF Robert Freer (Prep Charter) – remained on the field. As for Central . . not one Lancer was in da house! The reasons apparently were numerous, but coach Rich Weiss said he asked seven of his players to try out and no one responded. His disappointment was obvious. DN ink went to sr. RH Nate Vahedi (Seton Hall), who worked three wonderful innings. He allowed no hits and one walk while fanning three and even recorded 10 outs because one of the whiff guys reached base on a passed ball. Jr. RH Khalil Coles (Franklin) followed for one inning and wound up allowing three runs. He pitches almost all of his games on fields with cages and Ashburn, of course, is wide open. Maybe that unfamiliarity caused him to uncork some wild pitches? On one, jr. C Joey Powell (Masterman) made a quick recovery and Coles dashed in to catch Powell’s throw and successfully make the tag. The very next pitch also skidded to the backstop. This time the runner scored. Jr. LH Dylan Burke (Lincoln) worked two perfect frames (one K) and soph RH Jake Kurtz (GAMP) coasted two-thirds of the way through a second inning. Alas, sr. SS Ricky Alvarez, one of late-arriving Frankford guys, was slightly off with a throw off a grounder and sr. 1B Tyler Criniti couldn’t quite make the scoop. The next guy thumped an RBI double to left-center. Sr. RH Rafael “Omar” Cruz worked the ninth. I guess we can understand why things didn’t go well for the Pioneers. They had to rush to get to Ashburn Field and likely were not completely stretched/poised before they entered the game. The Pub scored one run apiece in the fourth, fifth and seventh thanks to respective RBI by sr. DH Derek Gregg (Bok, single to right), jr. LF Jake Wright (Washington, double down the leftfield line) and jr. LF Shakore Taylor (E&S, groundout to shortstop). Perez had a pair of singles and stole a base. DN lensman Dave Maialetti and I spent much of the game right next to the first-base end of the Pub’s dugout. There was a small puddle of water/mud right near us and . . . you got it! Some dude sent a ground ball that way and we got splashed with mud! Ha, ha, ha. Not much, thankfully. But definitely enough. Delco’s first base coach was former Bonner star Frank Nunan (’03, first team All-City outfielder), who now coaches at Upper Darby. Great to see him!
LA SALLE'S PLAYOFF STATS
(Through Seven Postseason Games)
|Mike Piscopo (1-0)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Dom Cuoci (2-0, S)||17||11||3||2||4||14||0.82|
|Kevin Long (3-1)||25.1||18||11||10||14||18||2.76|
NEUMANN-GORETTI'S PLAYOFF STATS
(Through Seven Postseason Games . . . Final)
|Joe Jaep (1-0)||9||4||0||0||4||8||0.00|
|John LaMotta (3-0)||14||7||3||1||2||13||0.50|
|Joe Kinee (1-0)||12||16||6||4||5||11||2.33|
|Joey Gorman (1-1)||21||24||8||5||6||17||2.50|
PIAAA CLASS AAA SEMIFINAL
Lampeter-Strasburg 2, Neumann-Goretti 1
At Spring-Ford High
It’s one thing to chastise an umpiring crew for making calls you feel were incorrect. It’s quite another to claim the men in blue were guilty of cheating and Mike Zolk, N-G’s first-year coach, decided to visit that very dangerous territory maybe an hour after the game. It happened in a phone conversation and I asked Mike if he was sure he wanted to go there. He was. “I really feel we were cheated,” he said. “I really, really, REALLY feel we were cheated.” He wasn’t screaming. Didn’t mix in expletives. He just talked and expressed his feelings. A few more times during the night, once I arrived at the office and began writing the story, and again much later, as I was arriving back home, we again had phone conversations. He’d seen video shot from the top of the stands behind the plate by an N-G parent. Had even watched it on a big screen. Now, he was more positive than ever that the two big plays in this game had been blown. He’d already crafted an email and sent it to Dave Connolly, the Pub baseball chairman and the guy who’d handled details for D-12 squads in the City Title games and first round of the state tourney. In that email, Zolk accused the plate ump of cheating and asked Dave to talk to state officials and see if the game could be replayed in its entirety with a different crew. Mike said he received permission from two N-G administrators before going down that path. . . . Now, for some background. Zolk is the all-time bundle of energy and, by his own admission, just cannot stay still. If allowed, he likes to coach from in front of the dugout at fields like this, walking back and forth, back and forth, back and forth non-stop. Even pretty much out to the point where the cinders meet the grass. That, of course, means he's "in play." He did that throughout the Catholic League final at Widener and no one ordered him back in the dugout. This time, however, L-S’ coaches spoke up and Zolk, at least twice in the early part of the game, was ordered to back up and stay put. (Of course, he’s only in this area when N-G is in the field. He’s stationed in the coach’s box at third when the Saints are batting.) Was the plate ump annoyed that he had chase Zolk back to the edge of the dugout multiple times? Couldn’t have helped. The first call that went against N-G occurred in the third. After sr. LF Mario DiFebbo was plunked, sr. RF Anthony Adams pushed a sacrifice bunt toward the right side. The pitcher, lefty Peter Darrenkamp, picked up the ball and fired it past first base into right field. N-G’s players and fans were ecstatic. Then the plate ump slowly walked out and called time. Adams was called out for interference. The ball had not hit him, but he’d caused the bad throw, in the ump’s opinion, because he’d been running to first INSIDE the baseline and not in the runner’s box. Tuesday morning, Zolk sent a text to correct a version of the play he said he’d seen on the video Monday night. At first, Zolk indicated Darrenkamp had made the throw in fair territory by a decent amount. After further looks at the play, he sent a text that read in part, “The pitcher’s momentum carried him into foul territory, which caused him to make a bad throw!” He stood by his all-along contention that Adams was in the runner’s box by that juncture. Anyway, Zolk had no prayer of getting the plate ump to rethink that verdict. Adams was called out and DiFebbo was ordered back to first. The inning died a quick death. A group of male N-G fans was stationed behind a fence located between the dugout and the main stands. As you can imagine, those guys rode the plate ump pretty hard and the ump went over and appeared to try to get one of them/all of them to move. Not completely positive how that went down because I was stationed at this juncture beyond the wall at the OTHER end of N-G’s dugout. Later, I moved to a spot near the plate side of L-S’ dugout, on the steps leading up to the main stands, and remained there until the end of the game. As the fifth inning ended, a local policeman approached those same N-G fans and ordered them to go up INTO the stands. A Spring-Ford employee said police from three local areas were now on the premises. Not a whole bunch of cops. Just one-two from each municipality. Through six innings, the Saints were no-hit (even though the scoreboard showed one hit; that mistake was eventually corrected) and the task in front of them looked pretty daunting as they prepared to bat in the home seventh. Score at least two runs against a guy who’d not yet allowed a hit? Let's give it a whirl. Soph 1B Josh Ockimey led off and a pitch brushed against his uniform top. He was sent to first, then replaced by pinch-runner Dean DeJesse. Up stepped sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan and, bang!, he broke up the no-no with a hard-hit double to right-center. DeJesse stopped at third. Jr. 3B Joe Kinee fanned on three pitches. Jr. 2B Joey Glennon, tremendous in the field all day but who’d managed just one hit through the whole postseason, put a late swing on a pitch from Darrenkamp and fired an RBI single through the right-side hole. DeJesse scored and Kerrigan stopped at third. Next was DiFebbo and he was ordered to squeeze. He got the ball down perfectly and Kerrigan raced home. The Saints and their fans momentarily went BERSERK. One problem. The plate ump had his hands in the air. He wound up ruling the ball had bounced off DiFebbo while Mario was trying to emerge from the box. Foul ball. No play. Get back in the box. DiFebbo followed with another good bunt. This one went past Darrenkamp, to HIS left, into pretty much a no-man’s area. It went from a sac to a single as DiFebbo easily reached first. Big problem, though. As the play began, Kerrigan spun his wheels while trying to start a dash home and had to remain at the bag. Another problem. While running toward second, Glennon and the second baseman collided in powerful fashion. How would THIS be untangled? After all kinds of discussion, obstruction was ruled and the bases were loaded. Adams wound up fanning after missing a sign for a squeeze. (Later, in an emotional speech to the players and family members, Zolk took the blame, saying he’d forgotten to go over the signs, like he usually does, before the game.) Sr. C Nicky Nardini followed with a smash that, off the bat from my angle, had the potential to be a two-run walkoff single. Oh, my goodness. How amazing would THAT have been. Instead, the ball was gloved on one hop by the third baseman – great play under intense pressure – and a game-ending force was made at the bag. The umps quickly left the field and were greeted by a police officer. That guy accompanied them as they walked to a spot near a back fence well behind L-S’ dugout. Already, a N-G supporter was screaming at a Spring-Ford employee who’d told him to tone down the language he’d been directing at the umps. The two were face to face. Soon, another N-G supporter could be spotted in the aisle at the edge of the main stands, maybe five-six rows up. He was yelling assorted comments toward the umps and getting into it with L-S fans who were right next to him. The Saints, meanwhile, were beyond devastated. Zolk had an emotion-filled talk with the players and family members and, among other things, told the kids to leave the the stadium “with heads held high, chests out.” N-G’s pitcher was sr. LH Joey Gorman. L-S scored in the third on a homer – a true BIG FLY to left -- by sr. RF Dan Neff and again in the seventh on an RBI sngle by Neff. That inning started with a single. Then, on a 3-2 count and with the runner going, the batter sent a ground ball right through the spot occupied just moments earlier by Glennon. He’d gone to cover second for K-DP possibilities, even though the batter was a lefty. Where all of this will go is anybody’s guess. The PIAA does not allow protests and especially does NOT take kindly to accusations of cheating. Two years ago, in basketball, the Math, Civics and Sciences people leveled that same charge and said the bad calls in a state playoff were due to racism. That created a statewide uproar. At a hearing that didn’t take place until summertime, the PIAA, among other things, censured the coach and placed him on probation. What happened in 2011? MC&S won a state title.
PIAA CLASS AAAA SEMIFINAL
La Salle 7, Hatboro-Horsham 5
At Spring-Ford High
We should have known it would wind up being one of THOSE days . . . After the lineups were announced, and with the teams standing on the respective baselines, the PA man said, “Will everyone please rise and face the flag in left field . . . Oops, it’s not there.” Then the Anthem played and the game began and neither was the strike zone!!! Or, if nothing else, it was floating around everywhere. Both schools’ fans groaned/yelled early and often as ball after ball was called. Plus, the plate dude had a very slow delivery and those pitches that WERE called strikes often weren’t registered until at least two seconds after the fact. Very frustrating. La Salle sr. RH Kevin Long and H-H sr. LH Casey O’Donnell combined to walk 7,642 guys in the early going. Oh, it wasn’t that many? Sure seemed like it. Long free-passed five and hit another in the first three frames while O’Donnell went the seven/one route before departing with one away in the fourth. This was a state semifinal? Looked more like Division C of the Pub. Luckily for all on hand, the game had nice back-and-forth qualities and there were some clutch hits, etc., to eventually make things pleasing to the eye (and soul). This is year No. 8 of District 12’s PIAA involvement and La Salle will be the first representative to play for a state title. In previous seasons (don’t forget, the CL didn’t jump on board until 2009), just three D-12 squads had advanced as far as semifinal rounds. But La Salle has made it and we expect everyone to head to Penn State for Friday’s 1 o’clock final vs. Council Rock South. OK? Riiiiiiight. Long mostly used high fastballs to get strikeouts and tough his way through the first two innings. But with one away in the third, he was thumped for four consecutive hits (all hard) as H-H came alive. He began to see daylight as soph SS-RH Dom Cuoci made a nice play deep in the hole, but a hit-by-pitch and walk came thereafter (to the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters) and the leadoff guy looped a two-run to left to make it 5-2. The very bottom of the order had also helped the Explorers in the second. With one way, Cuoci ripped a single to center and Long drew a walk. As sr. CF Ryan Otis faked a bunt, the runners executed a double steal (frosh Jim Herron was courtesy running for Long). Though Otis fanned, sr. LF-SS P.J. “Paul” Acierno delivered a two-run single to right-center. H-H used three hurlers in the fourth and the Explorers slapped together a four-spot. Cuoci and Otis walked to get things rolling and The Paulster again was clutch, rifling a two-run triple over the leftfielder’s head. Jr. 1B Chris Melillo got plunked, Acierno scored on a wild pitch with sr. C Corey "Like the Nurses" Baiada batting and sr. 2B Colin Pyne delivered an RBI single to center three batters after that. That made it 6-5. Long retired all six guys to face him in the fourth and fifth, but trouble reappeared in the sixth. The No. 9 hitter singled, then so did the leadoff guy. The No. 2 hitter failed to bunt them over, then struck out. Long almost used a trick play to post a pickoff at second, then spun toward first shortly thereafter and got one at that bag. Nice. It was important, too, because H-H had four runners reach base in the inning. With one away in the home sixth, Baiada scorched a single to left and yielded to Herron. Sr. RF Tyler Koziniewski grounded out, but an insurance run was added on consecutive walks to sr. 3B Mike Piscopo (intentional), Pyne and Cuoci. Cuoci, the subject of DN ink in light of the scary moment he endured last Friday in a quarterfinal (a liner right off his foot; didn’t look good for a while), pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and the Explorers went semi-crazy, rushing Cuoci. It appeared they wanted to create a dog pile, but Dom wasn’t having it. He was as sturdy as they come and his teammates couldn’t force him to the ground (ha ha). That was allllllll the Explorers would have needed, a re-injury to Cuoci’s ankle/foot. He’s the No. 2 starter and might get the call on Friday, unless the Explorers want to go back to Long on three days’ rest. From one standpoint, this no doubt was a very weird game for La Salle coach Joe Parisi. H-H’s No. 3 hitter was sr. CF Casey Saverio (2-for-3 with a double), whose brother, Sean, was a star catcher for La Salle. I saw Joe walk over to exchange pleasantries with Sean before the game. No idea what was said, but I do know Joe thought the world of Sean as a player. And he was probably hoping water would be thicker than blood once the game began (smile).
CARPENTER CUP CLASSIC FIRST ROUND
Chester County 13, Catholic League 7
At Richie Ashburn Field
Ever try to play baseball with your hands tied? The CL did today. Didn’t work out too well. We’re only halfway through the state playoffs and two teams, Neumann-Goretti and La Salle, are still alive. Though their players were permitted by their coaches to play for Carp coach Joe DeBarberie (Bonner), a decision was reached that nobody would take the hill. Very understandable, especially since N-G and La Salle will play tomorrow in semifinals with Joey Gorman and Kevin Long, respectively, expected to pitch. N-G’s Joe Kinee was also kept in mound mothballs and one of the hurlers wound up being a guy, jr. Dan Furman (Bonner), who’d started at catcher all season and had made infrequent pitching appearances almost completely (totally?) in non-league games. I was told, however, that he’ll likely be the Friars’ No. 1 or 1-A pitcher next season. Anyway, every pitcher wound up surrendering at least two runs except for jr. RH Nick Donovan (O’Hara), who came on to get the final out in a VERY messy six-run ninth. For the second time in three days (also during Friday’s La Salle quarterfinal vs. Central Dauphin), someone experienced a brain cramp about a simple baseball rule. We’re talking about the one that says a batter who fans with first base occupied and fewer than two outs is automatically out. If this mixup had not happened, the CL likely would have posted a DP with the second out coming at third base. Instead, that guy scored what turned out to be the winning run. All kinds of cwap (as Puck would say) happened from there and none of it was good. The highlight was a two-run bomb to almost dead center by soph 1B Josh Ockimey (N-G). It seemed as if he barely swung the bat and then, wow, the ball was rocketing over the fence (roughly 395 feet) and jr. DH Shane Williams was crowing as he rushed toward the plate to celebrate with Okcimey, "I said that was going to happen! I called it!" This was Ock’s seventh postseason game and he now owns five homers in that span! Phew! The blast came in the first inning and followed a hard single to left-center by Gorman. DN ink went to sr. C Corey Baiada (La Salle), who had to miss the quarterfinal due to illness. He, too, was given a reduced role (DH) and went 2-for-2 with a walk and RBI double to left-center. The fifth inning run was all N-G as Ockimey singled and was later driven in by sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan. The CL scored thrice in the seventh to forge a 7-7 tie as sr. C Devin McCann (O'Hara) and sr. RF Corey Kreamer (Judge) posted IDENTICAL RBI doubles on groundballs down the leftfield line, then jr. 3B Ian “Egan” Conwell (Lansdale) hit another grounder that was misplayed for a run-scoring error. Eight first team coaches’ All-Catholic honorees were not on the roster. I guess it’s possible a few failed to make the squad, but there’s a strong suspicion most just flat-out opted not to play. Sad.
LA SALLE'S PLAYOFF STATS
(Through Seven Postseason Games)
|Mike Piscopo (1-0)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Dom Cuoci (2-0, S)||17||11||3||2||4||14||0.82|
|Kevin Long (3-1)||25.1||18||11||10||14||18||2.76|
NEUMANN-GORETTI'S PLAYOFF STATS
(Through Seven Postseason Games . . . Final)
|Joe Jaep (1-0)||9||4||0||0||4||8||0.00|
|John LaMotta (3-0)||14||7||3||1||2||13||0.50|
|Joe Kinee (1-0)||12||16||6||4||5||11||2.33|
|Joey Gorman (1-1)||21||24||8||5||6||17||2.50|
PIAA CLASS AAAA QUARTERFINAL
La Salle 7, Central Dauphin 6
At Muhlenberg High
Except for weather miseries, these doubleheaders for District 12’s upper-echelon baseball squads are working out quite nicely, folks. Monday/Tuesday at Temple’s Skip Wilson Field and La Salle University’s Hank DeVincent Field, then yesterday/today at Muhlenberg, with the order of games reversed, La Salle and Neumann-Goretti managed to triumph. This time N-G went first, using a six-run fourth right out of the resumption to break a 2-2 tie en route to a 9-2 victory. As for La Salle . . . Not easy! And, for that reason, even more satisfying! After writing the N-G story in the middle school building adjacent to the field, I walked up the hill behind the backstop to see soph RH Dom Cuoci sitting on the grass near the field with a whole bunch of concerned people standing around him. He’d just taken a wicked line drive off the inner part of his left foot. La Salle trailed at the time, 2-0. Displaying a slight limp, Cuoci was able to make it through five innings before coach Joe Parisi, in an emotional moment, pulled him aside and mentioned it would be best to shut things down. The Explorers responded by putting “Cootch” in position to claim the victory, thanks to a two-spot that made it 3-2. The RBI went to sr. 2B Colin Pyne on a very strange single to center, and to sr. RF Tyler Kozeniewski on a rousing triple to right-center (the ball short-hopped the fence). Sr. SS P.J. “Paul” Acierno had walked, stolen second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Pyne sent one straight toward the centerfielder. For whatever reason, the kid allowed the ball to bounce almost directly in front of him. In La Salle’s dugout area, everybody looked at everybody else with expressions that screamed, “Man, did we luck out there!” Couci’s replacement was soph LH John Scheffey and CD reached him for three runs, thus claiming a 5-3 lead. With one out in the bottom half, frosh LF Jim Herron, of future QBing fame, thumped a single to center and the Explorers immediately reenergized. Sr. 3B Mike Piscopo, in particular, was very animated. He stood at the backstop and yelled toward the next few batters, “Refuse to make an out! Let’s go! REFUSE to make an out!!” Gotcha. Sr. CF Ryan Otis send a hard groundball to center. Acierno put down a bunt that was so good (halfway up the third base line), he beat it out for a bases-loading single. That brought up sr. 1B Chris Melillo, already 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the third. Kozeniewski offered, “He’s going to hit a home run.” Hey, that same prediction had been correct during the N-G game, when soph 1B Josh Ockimey launched a three-run bomb. Bang!! Melillo rocketed a shot over the centerfielder’s head. Nah, it didn’t clear the fence as well, but it went for a double and brought home three runs and “Koz” certainly can’t be faulted for missing out on this prediction by just a little. Pyne reached on an infield bobble, then stole second and Kozeniewski was issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Piscopo went down on a bouncing curve and Melillo, in quite the embarrassing moment, was erased after wandering off third. Had he thought Mike’s K had ended the inning? Had he forgotten that no throw to first base would be required since first base was occupied? To his everlasting credit, Chris freely discussed the snafu after the game and expressed how upset a loss would have left him. Yet, he couldn’t quite explain what had happened. We’ll chalk it up to one of those occasional brain freezes that everyone experiences. CD did not go quietly. In fact, a triple started the seventh and a sac fly tied the score at 6-6. After a two-out double was spanked to left-center, Piscopo moved to the mound and got the third out on a liner right back to him. On to the bottom of the seventh we go! . . . Sr. DH Kevin Long worked a full-count walk and yielded to sr. PR Marcus Sistrun. Soph 3B Brad Schneider, who’d entered the game to replace Piscopo, laid down a perfect sac. With Herron up, a wild pitch sent Sistrun to third. CD then decided to go with a five-man infield, placing the CF right near the second base bag. Herron finished drawing a walk and Otis stepped to the plate. Again, Piscopo led the encouragement brigade. He yelled in to “Oh-tee” (or however you’d spelled it – smile), “There’s no one I’d rather have up there right now!” Result? Otis sent a flyball to left and that was all that was needed. Sistrun raced home and the Explorers did some serious rejoicing. They rushed out toward Otis and the major part of the celebration took place beyond the infield dirt. What a wild ride! The Explorers overcame deficits of 2-0 and 5-3 and the disappointment of seeing a 6-5, three-outs-to-go lead vanish. Major props to everyone. The state semifinals will take place Monday at Spring-Ford High, in Royersford. La Salle vs. Hatboro-Horsham will go first at noon, followed by N-G vs. Lampeter-Strasburg at 3. Hey, the doubleheader formula has worked twice already . . .
PIAA CLASS AAA QUARTERFINAL
(Completion of Suspended Game)
Neumann-Goretti 9, Blue Mountain 2
At Muhlenberg High
Tyler Kozeniewski is one perceptive dude! Wait. Doesn’t he play for La Salle? Why is he being mentioned right at the start of a report about N-G’s game? Welllllll . . . This completion started at 4 and La Salle’s game vs. Central Dauphin could have started as early as 5, so the Explorers were on hand as N-G batted in the home fourth. Right after sr. SS Marty “Mart-EEEEE” Venafro lofted a sac fly to center, making it 3-2, soph 1B Josh Ockimey stepped to the plate. “Koz” was standing nearby right behind the backstop and said, emphatically, “He’s going to hit one out. Right here.” The pitch . . . Long drive! . . . Deep center field . . . Outta herrrrrrre!! Two guys were on, the lead zoomed to 6-2 and the game could have ended right then and there, truthfully. Instead, sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan laced a double down the line in left, jr. 3B Joe “Vote for Me; I Gave You Water for Free” Kinee got plunked and both guys wound up scoring on miscues. In the fifth inning, Venafro drove in a run on the continuation of a fielder’s choice, so he finished the game with three RBI on no hits. Legendary! N-G’s six-run fourth enabled jr. RH John LaMotta to collect the win; he was ineligible to take the hill today due to PIAA pitching restrictions. Sr. RH Joe Jaep, whose dad, also named Joe, was a star QB for the old Neumann (class of ’80), pitched the final three innings and prevented even a hint of drama. SportsWeek ink went to Venafro. Like the rest of N-G’s seniors, he graduated at Temple at 9 o’clock this morning, then headed back “downtown” to N-G to change into his uniform and ride the team bus to Muhlenberg High. Marty is a four-year starter at shortstop and his skills/approach/wisdom are important to everything N-G does. Ditto for sr. C Nicky Nardini, who also started as a freshman (though as the DH before becoming the catcher in sophomore year). Sr. LF Joey Gorman finished the game 2-for-2 with a double, walk and HBP. Sr. DH Mario DiFebbo singled twice and scored a run and Nardini managed an infield single along with two walks. By the way, Kozeniewski was at it again DURING La Salle’s game. In the sixth inning, he predicted that teammate Chris Melillo, the jr. 1B, would hit a homer. Not quite. But Chris did send a three-run rocket (a double, actually) over the centerfielder’s head. So, Koz “gave” the squads three RBI apiece. Not bad, right?
PIAA CLASS QUARTERFINAL
Neumann-Goretti 2, Blue Mountain 2 (suspended)
At Muhlenberg High
Only in the Laureldale!! I promised La Salle assistant Bob Peffle, formerly the head man at Pub power Frankford, I would use that phrase to describe the day's/night's events. Laureldale is a small borough above Reading and that's where Muhlenberg High is located and today/tonight all it gave us was frustrating weather! The game started at 4 and was halted at 7:03 after matching 57-minute delays, one just for rain and the other for lightning followed by rain. Ugh! N-G has graduation tomorrow at 9 a.m. at Temple's Liacouras Center so the resumption won't begin until 4. The AAAA tilt between La Salle and Central Dauphin will follow and that one can't go first because, as La Salle coach Joe Parisi was told, some members of CD's coaching staff can't get away from their regular jobs early enough to make a morning/early afternoon game possible. The field is very nice and it sits up high. In fact, you can see miles and miles in pretty much every direction. Now, let's just hope no raindrops are visible tomorrow! N-G scored twice in the third with the RBI going to sr. LF Joey Gorman on a double smoked into the rightfield corner and a gave-himself-up groundout to the right side by sr. SS Marty Venafro. The inning started with a walk to sr. RF Anthony Adams and a single off an infield chop by sr. C Nicky Nardini. As Gorman stepped in, he gave a I'm-gonna-sac appearance, then loaded up quicky and delivered his RBI blast. Nice job. When the game resumes, the Saints will have the bases loaded with one out. Sr. DH Mario DiFebbo led off with a hard hit to left-center and Adams tried to bunt him up. The throw was wild, however, so both runners survived. Nardini then thumped a hot smash off the third baseman's chest, but a nice recovery was made as the runners advanced to second and third. Gorman then was plunked and a lightning flash occurred with Venafro at bat. It was WAY off in the distance. So far away, in fact, that no thunder could be heard. PIAA rules call for an automatic half-hour delay, however, and 17 minutes into that the rain picked up again. It let up at 6:47, got harder again at 6:54 and the umps finally cried uncle at 7:03. Jr. RH John LaMotta did the pitching for N-G, allowing two hits. A passed ball in the third (during a rain spurt) and an infield bobble in the fourth caused the runs to be unearned. LaMotta retired the first seven batters he faced. The highlight of the afternoon/evening was getting to spend a lot of time behind the backstop with Tom Telford, who back in the day was a Catholic League umpire (and the guy who assigned the umps, as well). We exchanged numerous funny stories about crazy baseball games and other things and it was great to see him! During the second delay, it was interesting to watch some of the La Salle guys rock a van back and forth. Not from the outside. While they were sitting inside it. Must be a special talent. Ha, ha. In some ways, La Salle caught a break. One of its starters would have missed the game due to illness. Here's hoping he can make it back for tomorrow's game.
PIAA CLASS AAA PLAYOFFS
Neumann-Goretti 2, Twin Valley 0
At La Salle University
Did jr. RH Joe Kinee break a major league record? Of course not, but hear me out and you’ll understand why the report was started with that question. In pitching a shutout, Kinee forced TV to strand 12 runners, including three apiece in three consecutive innings! On Baseball Almanac, the listed MLB record for most runners LOB in a shutout is 16. The Cardinals hit that number in a 1994 game vs. the Phillies and Seattle did so vs. Toronto in 1998. One MAJOR difference: the Phillies used four pitchers that day (David West started) and Toronto used two (Roger Clemens started). Twelve runners LOB in seven innings would translate to 15.4 for nine. So let’s say someone who went the distance in a shutout forced the losing team to strand 15 runners (if that has ever happened; can’t find a specific reference . . . might update this later). Kinee, in effect, forced TV to strand 15.4 runners. Higher percentage, baby! MLB record! Ha, ha, ha. Kinee allowed seven hits, walked three and drilled four, and three guys reached on fielder’s choices, so you’re talking 17 baserunners. He picked off one, another was erased in a doubleplay and three sat down after fielder’s choices. Pretty darn amazing. The Raiders stranded one apiece in the first, second and third. Here’s what happened in the fourth, fifth and sixth:
Fourth: Thanks to two singles and a hit batsman, the bases were loaded with one away. Kinee escaped with a strikeout and forceout.
Fifth: Righthander Jared Price, a flame-throwing Maryland signee, crunched a one-out triple to center. After a hit batsman and walk surrounded a whiff, Kinee induced another groundball that turned into a forceout.
Sixth: The leadoff batter walked, but Kinee picked him off. The Nos. 8 (infield) and 9 hitters (bunt) posted singles. The next three batters fanned, walked and went down looking.
In the third, sr. SS Marty Venafro and jr. 2B Joey Glennon combined to turn a DP. To start the fifth, Venafro made a great play in the hole and whipped a one-hopper to soph 1B Josh Ockimey. He picked it clean for the out. Pitching coach Joe Messina reported that Kinee threw 102 pitches and that 65 were strikes. Meanwhile, Kinee noted that he’d spent roughly 90 minutes last Friday with a personal instructor named Frank DiMichele. Yes, that’s the same Frankie D, a good-guy lefty who graduated from the old Neumann in 1983 and pitched in four games in 1988 for the California Angels. Joe, also a decent hitting third baseman, had struggled lately and figured a look by some fresh eyes would help. Maybe Frank can now change his marketing approach to something like, No One Teaches You Better How to Make Sure Runners Get Stranded. Just Ask Joe Kinee! (smile). Anyway, N-G scored one run apiece in the first and third. Sr. LF Joey Gorman led off the game with a hard single to right off a curve. Venafro tried to bunt him over, but Price made a good pounce and got the forceout. Ockimey flied out to deep center. Sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan (Temple) milked a walk. Kinee inside-outed a smash that ate up the 1B and brought home the run. The Saints came close to scoring in the second as sr. C Nicky Nardini clobbered a two-out double off the fence down the leftfield line and Gorman followed with a liner. Alas, the ball went straight to the shortstop. With one out in the third, boom!, Ockimey, a k a The New Ryan Howard, thumped a solo homer over the fence in right. (Oddity department: Like Howard, “Ock” has a twin brother.) In N-G’s five postseason games in 2012, he is hitting .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, a triple, three homers and 10 RBI. And, yes, that means six of his seven hits have gone for extra bases. Ockimey’s bomb was the Saints’ last hit of the day, as things turned out, but Kinee made sure the dry spell would not come back to haunt them.
CLASS AAAA CITY TITLE
La Salle 14, Frankford 1 (6 inn.)
At Richie Ashburn Field
Not much to say about this one, folks. Before Frankford batted in the home sixth, coach Juan Namnun looked over from the third base coach's box to where I was stationed (for photo purposes) and said with the slightest hint of a smile, "Be kind." It was THAT kind of game and, really, it was decided within the first 10 minutes. The starting time was 12:17 and when La Salle's leadoff hitter, sr. CF Ryan Otis, sent a popup about seven stories up, sr. SS Ricky Alvarez was looking directly into the noonday sun and the ball fell for a gift double. From there the problem was only slightly above ground level -- as in the strike zone. Sr. LH Hector Cerda couldn't find it and issued four consecutive free passes. A few of the pitches were close and the non-strike calls seemed to rile him. The second two walks forced in runs, of course, and sr. 3B Mike Piscopo made it 3-0 with a sac fly. When Frankford came to bat, the first three batters combined to swing at the first five pitches! Say what!? Namnun said patience had been discussed in the dugout, but it was assuredly not in evidence. La Salle added three more in the second and the big moment was a throwing error on a rundown that allowed two runs. That happened four batters into this uprising, right after Cerda had yielded to sr. RH Rafael "Omar" Cruz. Sr. RF Tyler Kozeniewski then added an RBI single. Though the Pioneers, for the most part, remained energetic, they never mounted a comeback. Their lone run, in the fourth, came gift-wrapped in the form of an infield error after jr. 1B Kevin Montero doubled hard to left. Jr. RH Dom Cuoci pitched all six innings, allowing three hits and fanning five. He walked none. DN ink went to sr. SS P.J. "Paul" Acierno, who will play golf at La Salle University on a partial scholarship. Last fall he led the Explorers to the CL links crown and then was an important, ever-brassy basketball sub as well. Batting second, he went 2-for-4 with one RBI apiece on a double (hard to left-center) and single (groundball to left). Sr. 1B Chris Melillo added two walks to a double and two-run single. Sr. C Corey Baiada had a two-run double. Piscopo singled twice and scored each time. Otis stole two bases and scored three times. Namnun and Bob Peffle, right-hand man to La Salle boss Joe Parisi, experienced some weird feelings. Peffle, who also starred there (he spent some time in the minor leagues), was Frankford's wildly successful coach through '07 and Namnun was his chief assistant. Bob said one of his jobs is to write team goals on a dugout whiteboard, and he said it felt very strange to post "Beat Frankford." Can only imagine. Both teams will advance to the state playoffs, which begin Monday. La Salle's game will be played at the field on Temple's Ambler Campus. The site for Frankford's tilt is TBA.
CATHOLIC LEAGUE FINAL
Neumann-Goretti 5, La Salle 4 (8 inn.)
At Widener University
The worst thing about baseball is that important games, especially those that are tight late into regulation or into extra innings, are often lost more than they’re won. So it was today in sweltering conditions at Widener, at which (for whatever reason) the grass hadn’t been cut for a while. Don’t get us wrong. The grass wasn’t brutally high and it appeared to play no role in the outcome. But if you’re going to host a championship event, shouldn’t the field be in the best possible shape? Before a game, a coin flip was held to determine the home team and N-G coach Mike Zolk, who’s in his first year, allowed La Salle’s Joe Parisi, who’s in his 26th, to make the call. N-G won and thus had the coveted last-to-bat rights. In the home eighth, with sr. RH Kevin Long (Lehigh) still pitching, jr. 1B Josh Ockimey drew a five-pitch walk and yielded to a soph pinch-runner, Joe Lolio, who goes 5-3, 148, and was promoted from the JV as the playoffs began. Sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan (Temple) sent a shot to deep right that might have wound up being a homer if the wind had not died down just a short time earlier. Jr. 3B Joe Kinee stepped in and received a sign from Zolk to try to bunt for a hit. Later, Kinee said he was pretty sure he’d not bunted a ball fair all season. He tapped this one up the third base line and sr. 3B Mike Piscopo (Northeastern) made a bare-handed snag. He was really on the move, hard, though, and his across-the-body throw skipped past jr. 1B Chris Melillo. Lolio got a great jump and scampered all the way around the bases, providing a stunning end to the tight contest. In the ol’ days, that would have been it. Devastating loss. No chance for redemption. The Explorers have at least two more games, however (AAAA City Title Thursday vs. Frankford, start of state playoffs next Monday), so some great things could still happen and I’m sure everyone, including the Saints, would love to see that. As often happens for title stories, I decided to take an overall slant and interview a few guys and, right out of the box, sr. LH Joey Gorman (Saint Joseph’s) dropped a bombshell. More complete details are in the DN story, but the short version is this: He’d been playing recently with two dislodged ribs! Whoa! Anyway, Gorman threw 144 pitches and was directed to left field after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the eighth. His replacement was the guy, jr. RH John LaMotta, who’d absolutely burst onto the scene last Friday by pitching four-hit, 10-whiff ball in NINE relief innings in N-G’s 14-inning semifinal win over Bonner. LaMotta remained the competent good-luck charm as the Saints rallied after he wriggled out of the eighth with nary a scrape. Earlier today, I did some pitching stats for Gorman and Long and they were eerily similar. A breakdown of earned runs was not available, but Joey had allowed 1.79 runs for every seven innings in CL play while Kevin had allowed 1.71. In 39 innings, Joey had been reached for 24 hits while striking out 49. Kev’s numbers in 41 were 23 and 41. Is it any wonder the game was so close? While claiming its second consecutive title and third in four seasons, N-G scored two apiece in the third and sixth before crashing through for that last run in the eighth. Third: sr. SS Marty Venafro (West Chester) ripped a double to left-center (shade to the left of the 358-foot sign) and Ockimey followed with a two-run homer to dead right. It’s 309 to the corner and the ball left the stadium maybe 20 feet from the line? Sixth: Kerrigan was drilled on the hand, Kinee sliced a double into the right field corner and jr. 2B Joey Glennon launched a sac fly to center. After sr. LF Mario DiFebbo flew out, sr. RF Anthony Adams rocketed a one-hopper through the infield into center for an RBI single. La Salle scored one apiece in the third and fourth and two in the sixth. Third: Long sent a double to the base of the fence in right, but the courtesy runner, frosh Jimmy Herron, was rubbed out on a fielder’s choice. Sr. LF P.J. Acierno (La Salle for golf) beat out an infield single and Melillo delivered a run-scoring single to left-center. Fourth: the Saints committed three errors and the run scored as Gorman bobbled a chopper off the bat of the leadoff man, sr. CF Ryan Otis (Bucknell). Sixth: An error on a sac wound up making both runs unearned. The RBI went to Otis on a looping single and to Melillo on sac fly. Meanwhile, Zolk was the all-time perpetual motion machine. He walked back and forth, back and forth, in front of the dugout when the Saints were in the field and was never without instructions for the guys out there, or even future-reference tidbits for the members of the bench brigade. What energy! As N-G prepared to bat in the seventh, a fan yelled down to Nardini, “Yo, Nick, you like our chances now?” (As in, to end the game.) Nicky didn’t respond right away, but then said, “Lovin’ ‘em.” By the way, Nardini did a great job blocking low pitches and I apologize for not mentioning that in the DN story. When N-G won in ’09. that title broke a drought that had lasted since 1960. In the interim, the Pirates/Saints dropped finals in ’67, ’86, 88, ’93 and ’95. La Salle has now experienced defeat in six of its last seven title-game appearances (with four of those setbacks coming by two runs, or fewer). The day’s MVP was likely Dave Crowe, La Salle’s trainer. Again and again, he provided wet towels so plate ump Carlos Deno could try to cool off between innings.
PA. INDY TOURNEY FINAL
Malvern 3, Haverford School 2
At Haverford School
Winning a championship, no matter how it's done, always provides great feelings. But here's a strong guess that those titles won under nerve-wracking circumstances are the most satisfying. Malvern recently concluded its first-ever perfect Inter-Ac season (at 10-0) and a non-No. 1 finish in this tournament would have been VERY disappointing, especially since only I-A teams reached the semis. And then, there we were, heading into the bottom of the fifth, and the Friars trailed, 2-0. Oh, baby! HS had scored in the second on a solo homer to left-center by jr. CF Steve Fitzgerald and in the fourth on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat jr. 1B-RH Pat Valentine; it followed an infield single by sr. 2B Gus Costalas, a double to center by sr. DH Vince Piccioni and a walk to Fitzgerald that loaded the bases. Jr. LH Matt Galetta, whose pitches have that nice, late tail, entered the fifth having yielded just two hits. He even recorded two quick outs, retiring sr. 1B Joe Ravert on a liner to left and jr. DH Stephen Robinson on a grounder to short. However, the No. 8 hitter, jr. LF Mike DeMatteis smacked a single to center and jr. C Billy "Moose" Ford with a high flyball in the same direction. It was hit well and Haverford's new field resembles the old one in terms of its short distance to center and . . . home run! Game tied at 2-2! Jr. 3B Joe Poduslenko led off the sixth with a hard single to left and Galetta was removed in favor of Valentine. After "Pod" thieved second and Greskoff milked a walk, Hayes tapped down a perfect sac and both guys moved into scoring position. Sr. CF Nick Bateman chopped a grounder to third and frosh 3B Kevin McGowan made a nice play while making sure to freeze Poduslenko. With two away, Fords coach Bob Castell decided to issue Ravert an intentional walk and reload the bases. Robinson followed by inside-outing a scorching grounder maybe 12 feet inside the first base bag. There was no chance for anyone to make a big play and Poduslenko romped home to make it 3-2. Greskoff was cut down at the plate -- easily, in fact -- and Haverford had a chance. Sr. RH John Durkee, in his second inning of work in relief of soph RH Gardner Nutter, allowed a two-out single, on a 3-2 pitch, to sr. SS Andrew Landolfi. McGowan then pulled a grounder to first. Ravert made the scoop, stepped on the bag and . . . let the celebration begin! The pileup took place to the right of the mound and everybody was part of it. Quite a sight. The game ended at 4:13 and I didn't start driving home until 4:40. In between, the Friars gathered in left field and coach Freddy Hilliard, along with three assistants, had lengthy and emotional exchanges with all 12 seniors. It was impressive to see. Then, the underclassmen were brought back into the group and team pics were snapped. All of that must have taken 15 minutes, maybe even more, but guess what . . . the Haverford kids waited around so an official awards ceremony could take place. Major props to the Fords for their patience! Castell then supervised the trophy/plaque presentations and, finally, the Friars received medals. Meanwhile, this ballgame was tight! Neither team committed an error and there were only four walks, counting the intentional one to Ravert. Hayes made a diving catch of a liner. Nutter and Hayes combined for a sneaky pickoff play. The Fords turned two doubleplays. On the second one, McGowan caught a hard one-hopper, tagged out a runner who'd strayed off the bag and fired to first. Jr. LF Drew Field made a sprawling catch. And Costalas made an impressive, running, back-to-the-infield catch of a popup to retire his cousin, sr. SS C.J. Costalas -- with soph RF Steve Scornajenghi sliding toward his legs. HS' Costalas was the guy who, at one point, had bellowed in a mini-confab with his teammates, "Who wants to win as much as they want to BREATHE!?" Now to backtrack . . . Malvern won its semi over SCH Academy on Saturday afternoon but the HS-Penn Charter counterpart was halted in the fourth inning by weather issues. HS offered to host today's activity and sr. RH Eric Close completed a two-hit, five-K shutout as the Fords won, 3-0. Close is a tall kid (maybe 6-7?, even 6-8?) and is still rather lean, so there could be all KINDS of potential in that body. His original plan was to head to Temple, but the coach has stepped down and Eric is back on the market. Here's hoping he finds the right place and continues to blossom. Also concluding their careers were PC's five-year varsity players/best buddies, SS-RH Kenny Koplove and 2B Demetrius "Meat" Jennings. The Duke-bound Koplove recorded two strikeouts to escape from a bases-loaded situation. Nice. This was also THE final game for Rick Mellor, PC's coach for the previous 33 seasons and a co-coach for this one with ex-Gtn. Academy/Penn assistant Jon Cross (though he stepped back greatly and let Jon run the show). ALL the best, Rick!! You deserve every last morsel of it.
|MALVERN 3, HAVER. SCHOOL 2|
|Haverford School||AB||R||H||BI||Malvern Prep||AB||R||H||BI|
|Andrew Landolfi ss||4||0||1||0||Joe Poduslenko 3b||3||1||1||0|
|Kevin McGowan 3b||4||0||1||0||Matt Greskoff rf||2||0||0||0|
|Gus Costalas 2b||3||1||1||0||Drew Hayes 2b||2||0||0||0|
|Vince Piccioni dh||3||0||1||0||Nick Bateman cf||3||0||1||0|
|Steve Fitzgerald cf||1||1||1||1||Joe Ravert 1b||2||0||0||0|
|Pat Valentine 1b||3||0||1||1||Kevin Frost pr||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Galetta p||3||0||0||0||Stephen Robinson dh||3||0||1||1|
|Tom McCarthy 1b||0||0||0||0||Mike DeMatteis lf||2||1||2||0|
|Drew Field lf||3||0||0||0||Billy Ford c||2||1||1||2|
|Terry Rossi c||3||0||1||0||C.J. Costalas||1||0||0||0|
|Not part of batting order -- HS: Steve Scornajenghi, rf; MP: Gardner Nutter and John Durkee, p.|
|DP: HS 2.|
|LOB: HS 6, MP 3.|
|2B: Terry Rossi, Vince Piccioni.|
|HR: Steve Fitzgerald, Billy Ford.|
|SB: Mike DeMatteis, Joe Poduslenko.|
|S: Drew Hayes.|
|Matt Galetta (L)||5||5||3||3||1||1|
|John Durkee (W)||2||2||0||0||1||1|
|Matt Galetta faced 1 batter in 6th.|
|WP: Matt Galetta.|
|U: Bill "Babs" Haines, T.J. Berry.|
PUBLIC LEAGUE FINAL
Frankford 8, GAMP 3
At Richie Ashburn Field
If we didn’t know so already, we do now: Frankford’s sport of dominance has changed. Just 13 seasons into this century, the Pioneers own eight baseball championships while football has produced only four. Moreover, the diamond guys of Juan Namnun (and Bob Peffle before him) have captured seven in the last 10 seasons and that accomplishment matches Overbrook’s in basketball from 1950 to ’59. Those 'Brook squads included FIVE guys who advanced to the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain (’55), of course, heads the list, but Jackie Moore got things started in ’50 and three guys – Wayne Hightower, Walt Hazzard and Wally (later Wali) Jones -- were part of the ’58 squad. Downright amazing. So far, no Frankford diamond guys have achieved pro fame, but infielder Esteban “Shortie” Meletiche has enjoyed great success at Keystone College and is again hoping to be drafted this June. Anyway, as highlighted in the SportsWeek story, one of Frankford’s heroes today was a guy whose body screams football. Jr. 1B Kevin Montero goes 6-4, 250, but he hails from the Dominican Republic and football does not really compute. No sweat. He’s doing fine with baseball. Montero went 3-for-3 and his first hit was the biggest. As the lower seed, GAMP batted first and the energized spectators were treated to an early jolt. Against sr. RH Rafael “Omar” Cruz, the starting pitcher in a championship game for the third consecutive game, sr. RH Desmond Drummond rocketed a two-run homer over the fence in right-center (not far from the 375-foot sign) and the jaun’ was ON, folks (smile). Cruz did not get rattled, ending the inning on a strikeout and flyball, and Frankford came in to bat. Sr. CF Augusto “June” Ortega singled hard to center. Sr. SS Ricky Alvarez milked a walk. Sr. RF Hector Cerda fired a run-scoring double into right-center. Montero lashed a two-run single up the middle. That quickly, Frankford not only erased the deficit but seized the lead. The uptown Pioneers (GAMP, in South Philly, also owns that nickname) added three more runs in the fourth and the bottom of the order was front and center. Well, early anyway. With one out, the No. 7 hitter, sr. LF Ramon Rosario, sent a single down the rightfield line and sr. RF Nick Carine did a great job of scrambling over to prevent a double. Jr. C Eduardo “Cheese” Sanchez laid down a bunt, but Drummond was quick to pounce. Alas, his throw to second was low. Jr. DH Carlos Ramirez again went the bunt route and he was able to beat Drummond’s throw to earn a single. That turned over the lineup, of course, and Ortega hammered a three-run double to right-center. Well, eventually it was a double. Ortega at first was awarded a triple as third base ump Jerry Kleger signaled that June had evaded the tag of soph 3B Jake Kurtz. Whoa! The reaction from Kurtz and other nearby GAMPers was fast and strong. In short order, Kleger heeded the calls to check with partners who might have had a better angle. Marvin Doughty, the second base ump, convinced Kleger to change the call and Ortega was sent to the dugout. Major props to the crew for getting it right, and especially to Jerry, who didn’t let his ego get in the way. Jerry today completed quite the (unprecedented?) trifecta. In 1957, he was one of the pitchers who helped Lincoln clinch the Pub title with a regular season win (before the playoff era). In 1983, he coached Ben Franklin to the PL crown and that was the first all-minorities squad to win one. Now, of course, he has also umped in a championship game. Very cool! In the fifth, Frankford tallied two more runs on a misplayed grounder. Montero had the only hit in that frame. There was also no RBI attached to GAMP’s sixth inning run as it scored when Kurtz grounded into a 4-6-3 doubleplay. The bases had been loaded on singles by Brinkman and Drummond and a hit batter (Carine). The DP was seriously crisp and the middleman, Alvarez, made a great play in the seventh, as well, ranging WELL toward third base to glove a groundball off the bat of jr. C Jeremy “Squirm” Castellanos. Meanwhile, Carine and his Frankford counterpart, Cerda, made nice sliding catches. GAMP was trying to win its second title (also 2002) and it’s amazing what this tiny school is able to do under Art “Archie/Kratch” Kratchman. GAMP’s male enrollment is roughly 110. By the way, a number of former downtown Pioneers showed up and one was LH Mario Malatino, the winning pitcher in the ’02 triumph. He was working on two days’ rest and that couldn’t happen today due to PIAA rules. One of the postgame highlights came when Cerda snatched the championship trophy and ran completely around the bases, completing his journey with a short slide into home. Shortly thereafter, Alvarez was standing nearby and I kiddingly said to him, “Hey, when you’re going to do a flip, you have to tell me so I can get a picture.” He’d done one right on the infield during the early moments of the celebration, but I was taking a pic of something else at that moment. Ricky shot back with a smile, “C’mon, I’ll do another one right now and you can get my pic.” I squashed that idea REAL quick. The last thing Frankford needed was for Ricky to get hurt while trying to provide a website photo op (smile). These Pioneers are already without jr. INF Kidanny Cumba, who suffered a broken bone near his ankle while completing a stolen base journey in the semis. Oh, and how ‘bout that N-G/Bonner CL semi! Huck was in attendance and was sending text messages. On to the 11th. Now in the 12th. Headed for the 13th. The game wound up going 14 innings, tying the city postseason record (Roxborough beat Frankford, 1-0, in a Pub semifinal), and N-G jr. RH John LaMotta, who’d pitched just one league inning all season, wound up going NINE in relief for the win. He allowed just four hits, struck out 10 and missed the strike zone with only 21 of his 97 pitches! The other semi, La Salle-Carroll, began at 2:30 at Philly U. Bob Long, who covered that for us, then scurried to Widener and was able to see roughly HALF of the N-G/Bonner game. Legendary!
PUBLIC LEAGUE SEMIFINAL
Frankford 11, Washington 1 (6 inn.)
At Richie Ashburn Field
While writing down Frankford's lineup before the game, I had a strange feeling when seeing Hector Cerda's name in the No. 3 hole. Hmm. Where had he been? There was definitely no memory of writing his name Monday for one of the quarterfinal boxscores. Coach Juan Namnun confirmed after this one that Hector had been granted "a vacation" to help resolve a family issue. Hector always comes off as a good kid and his energy, especially, is appreciated by Namnun and he ain't a half-bad player, either (smile). The sr. LH pitched one-hit ball over five innings and went 2-for-4 with a triple, one RBI and two runs scored. Really, this one was over after one inning. Frankford notched five runs in the bottom half and even though four of the runs were earned, the uprising was quite messy. With a two-run single, sr. RF-1B Ramon Rosario had the big hit. The one run in the second was driven in by Cerda. In the third we witnessed a very unusual "grand slam." Well, that's what a 9-year-old would have called it. Frankford loaded the bases on a single by sr. LF Rafael "Omar" Cruz and walks to jr. 2B Kidanny Cumba and sr. CF Augusto "June" Ortega (intentional). That brought to the plate sr. SS Ricky Alvarez, who a few years back might have been the smallest player in city history to be issued a free pass. Alvarez lined one to center and wound up receiving credit for two RBI. There might have been a play at the plate, but the relay throw short-hopped sr. C Dean Grande as he was absorbing contact from soph PR Alex Torres; HE was on the field because Cumba had suffered an ankle injury (perhaps severe) while stealing second. Anyway, Grande appeared to be stunned and did not immediately chase after the ball. Neither did anyone else. Ortega and Alvarez kept racing and had no trouble scoring. For Washington, jr. RH Jake Wright replaced soph RH Roger Hanson for the fourth and order was restored. He faced just seven batters total over the next two innings and the Pioneers still needed one more run to end it early. Cerda stung a one-out triple to right and the ball reached the fence or a hop or three. GW coach Ken Geiser decided to issue intentional walks to the next TWO batters with the hope of inducing a game-extending doubleplay, or at least getting a force at the plate. Instead, Cruz lined one to left and the ball cleared the head of the drawn-in LF, jr. Corey Sharp. The fact that Frankford won this game was not surprising. Its skill level is assuredly higher than Washington’s. The Eagles spent too much time playing in careless, even uninspired, fashion, however, and that just shouldn’t happen in a semifinal. Geiser had to be very disappointed because he’s big on detail and making sure things are done the right way. Friday, 3 o’clock at Ashburn, Frankford will meet GAMP, a surprise, 9-7 winner over Central for the Pub title. Frankford will enter as anything from a moderate to heavy favorite, but rumor has it pregame analysis means nothing and whichever team scores the most runs will be declared the champion. Geez, who would have thought? (smile)
CATHOLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
Neumann-Goretti 8, Wood 4
Both pitchers were rocked for big-time hits in the first inning and, guess what, I'm blaming the umpires. If the fact that they MUST follow rules is drummed into kids all day, every day, why can umpires stroll onto the field one minute before the scheduled 3:45 start? Especially when the game will terminate one team's championship dream? Pitchers and coaches set up their entire pregame sequence with the starting time in mind. This has been a wet week so far and N-G coach Mike Zolk, among others, arrived at the field at 10 a.m. to make sure it would not only be ready, but ready ON TIME. It is NOT fair for the umpires to mess with all that! The ground rules took an outrageous nine minutes and the game didn't start until 3:57. Booooo!!!! I know both umps pretty well. Both are good guys and I respect their work. But this stuff needs to be addressed. Oh, and while we're at it, is the Catholic League getting cheap? The Pub, despite the School District's outrageous money miseries, used four umps for every quarterfinal. The Cath used two apiece for its quarters. What's with that? Anyway, Wood scored twice in the first against star sr. LH Joey Gorman as sr. SS Tim Greenfield singled hard to right-center and came around on a blast and a half! Jr. C John "Beef" Santospago hit it and the ball traveled WELL beyond sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan. In the bottom half against sr. LH Rich Rosenbaum, Gorman tried to bunt for a hit and reached first base on a bobble. Sr. SS Marty Venafro also bunted, and beat the play to wind up with career hit No. 100. Congrats! Soph 1B Josh Ockimey then crushed a two-run double to right-center and any hints of negative vibrations were quickly erased. After all, the Saints knew Wood had stormed from behind to stun Conwell-Egan in a first-round game. Were the Vikings suddenly blessed? Not exactly, despite a decent effort. N-G added two in the second thank to infield bobble and a groundball single to center off Venafro's bat. It tallied three runs in the fourth with RBI going to sr. C Nicky Nardini on a sac fly and to Ockimey/Kerrigan on singles. Two errors on one pickoff play allowed one more run to be scored in the fifth. Wood notched a two-spot in the sixth. Rosenbaum and Greenfield singled, then Santospago drew a walk. Jr. RF Joe Santospago and jr. 3B Brett "Bert" McCrossen then bagged RBI on fielder's choice grounders. Gorman went the distance, allowing eight hits and striking out the same number (five in first two innings). Rosenbaum lasted five frames and jr. LH Justin Babb worked a 1-2-3 sixth. Thanks to alumni donations, Zolk said N-G is hoping to add dugouts, bullpen areas and maybe even a scoreboard for next season. That'd be great. Now, remove some of the netting that covers the backstop so it's easier to take pictures! Ha, ha, ha. In the hard work department, kudos also go out to Wood coach Jim DiGuiseppe Jr. and helpers (including some from Carroll and Lansdale; that posse was headed by LC coach Rick Norwood) for making Wood's field playable for the quarterfinal involving Carroll and Lansdale Catholic. The game was played at Wood because Fr. Ed Casey, Carroll's president and an assistant baseball coach, felt the Patriots' still-small field was unsuitable for a playoff game. In the fifth inning, sr. RF Anthony Adams faced a 2-0 count when Zolk hollered into him from the third base coach's box, "If you can't hit over the fence, don't swing at all." Rosenbaum delivered and Adams fouled one off to the right side and out onto Moore Street. Zolk said, "Ah, I didn't mean THAT fence." Smile!
PUBLIC LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL
Washington 11, Esperanza 6
Today’s most amazing development was that all eight playoff games – four apiece in the Pub and Cath – were completed. Various weather people relentlessly called for showers and it was impossible not to think, “These babies are gonna get postponed.” Even at Lighthouse Field, located at Front and Erie and one of my favorite places to watch a game, the skies were seriously overcast throughout and there were bouts of mist/drizzle. In the distance, in assorted directions, the skies were VERY gray and you had to figure that somewhere it was raining hard. Uh, uh. At least not hard enough to cause problems. Very cool! Postseason rainouts stink. As the visitor, Washington of course was the underdog, but this one didn’t present much of a problem. The Eagles immediately posted a three-spot, then added two more in the second to establish command. The Washington crew benefited greatly from the weather. If the conditions had been nice, a large crowd no doubt would have been on hand and that would have made the task much more difficult. DN ink went to sr. C-RH Dean Grande, who’s a solid player and adds even more – significantly more, in fact -- to the Eagles’ cause with his leadership skills. Grande, a four-year starter playing for his third coach, was the only senior in the lineup and I know his overall contributions are much appreciated by first-year boss Ken Geiser, a quality catcher for the Eagles back in the day. Grande went 2-for-4 with a walk and one RBI and that ribbie plated the game’s first run. He also cut down two guys who mistakenly thought they could steal on him. In high school ball, with runners on first and third, it's not uncommon for coaches to tell their catchers to forget about the trail guy and just fire the ball to the pitcher with the hope of catching the lead guy too far off the bag. In the first, Grande fired through and erased jr. 2B Aderly Perez at second. The next inning ended as he nipped, easily, soph CR Joseph Vazquez, who for whatever reason tried to thieve third. Jr. 2B Mike “Kruk” Konick also had a real nice outing for the Eagles. The pudgy lefty swinger slapped a two-run single in the first, got another run home in the sixth with a bases-loaded and crunched an RBI single to left-center in the seventh. The highlight of the five-run sixth was a two-run double to right-center by the No. 7 hitter, jr. RF Ian Dougherty. Thanks in part to Grande, jr. RH Aaron Keen had little difficulty through three frames. The Toros reached him for four runs in the fourth, however, and the big blast was an RBI double to left by jr. DH Franklyn Mejia . . . Oops, let’s make that a three-run homer! ‘Cause that’s what the umps eventually did. The ground rules at Lighthouse are dicey and it was ruled that jr. LF Corey Sharp made an attempt to fetch the ball from the shrubs out near the fence. If he’d made no attempt, the story went, the original call would have stood. Two batters later, sr. SS Raul Escolatico sent a shot in pretty much the same direction and wound up with a triple. Sr. RF-LF Victor Nunez then singled to right to plate Escolatico. Jr. CF-RH Jake Wright (two innings) and Grande handled the pitching chores after Keen called it a mound day. They yielded one run apiece. The semis will feature Washington vs. Frankford and GAMP vs. Central. Details were unclear as of late tonight because Frankford, as is its right, wants to play game No. 1 of the semi doubleheader Wednesday at Ashburn Field and GAMP wants to avoid game No. 2 because of an early evening school function. It’s possible both semis will be played early at separate sights. Oh, we also had another Only in the Pub moment. Esperanza’s mascot, a Toro, was in attendance in costume and early in the game he wandered behind the screen to try to distract Keen. A Washington parent bellowed to the ump about getting the Toro to vamoose and their discussion became heated. The plate ump, in fact, threatened to toss the parent. Could you imagine that? You go home at night, call your friends to tell them about the game and add, in passing, “Oh, I got thrown out.” Your buddy asks why and you tell him, “Because of a damn mascot.” Say what?! It didn’t happen, but it could have been quite the legendary moment. Meanwhile, Geiser got pretty upset during the discussion about the double/homer and at one point the plate ump got pretty testy with him. If HE had been thrown out, I’m guessing Washington would have lost by forfeit. Ken has no assistant coaches and I’m pretty sure PIAA rules would not have allowed the game to continue.
PUBLIC AAA FINAL
Phila. Electrical 7, Swenson 5
This was a Tale of Two Cities, Baseball Version. The first 4 1/2 innings were nice and pristine, like many locales in the Caribbean. The remainder of the game was ugly, like many parts of Filthydelphia. Just that amazingly, we went from no errors to eight. Hey, it happens. It’s just sad to see it happen in a championship game, especially one that had been rolling along so nicely. Swenson scored one in the third as frosh SS Brian Nieves singled to left, stole second, advanced to third as sr. 1B Matt Brewer fanned on a bouncing pitch and had to be thrown out at first, and came home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of sr. C Josh Durkin. PET answered in the bottom half as jr. LF Tyree Barnes inside-outed a single down the rightfield line, thieved second and scored on another inside-outer; this one was a ground-rule double by jr. 2B Rob Payne. PET dropped a six-bomb in the sixth and managed just ONE hit, a two-run double to left-center by the No. 9 hitter, frosh SS Elliot Castillo. Even though two of the first three hitters had walked, Castillo pounced on the first pitch. The inning began with a free pass to soph RF James Saunders, who’s a beefy kid. While Saunders was standing at first base, I almost screamed, “Yo, shouldn’t a pinch-runner be out here?!” Didn’t happen. Sr. CF Joe Piacenti topped one in front of the plate. Jr. LH Mike Amodei had to hustle in pretty far to get the ball, but with Saunders running (term used loosely – smile), he figured he still had a chance for the force. Alas, he skipped the ball into centerfield and the inning fell apart from there. If a pinch-runner HAD been on first, Amodei almost certainly would have made the safe play. Maybe PET still would have scored, but one has to think the inning would not have deteriorated to such an extent. Actually, things could have gotten much worse. Amodei was replaced after walking three in a row and the new pitcher was sr. Jon Fox, who’d been at second base. Fox induced a 1-2-3 doubleplay and followed that with a strikeout. One frame later, Fox’ replacement at second, soph Nick Diehl, who’d moved there from left field, sprawled and made a terrific play on a grounder to his left. Swenson did bounce back with four runs in the sixth and the big hit, in the form of a two-run single to right-center, was posted by Nieves. Though the Lions managed to get the tying runs on base in the seventh, jr. RH Ray Guinther, a transfer from Archbishop Carroll, reached back for a little extra and mowed down the last two batters, raising his whiff total to nine. This game was played at South Philly’s FDR Park, a k a “The Lakes,” and started at 1 o’clock because Swenson had a senior prom. After the game, it appeared the Chargers were going to celebrate by staging a match race between Saunders and coach Mark Olkowski, who’s also a big-‘un. Mark wasn’t havin’ it! He claimed he had injury concerns since PET will visit Frankford for an overall quarterfinal on Monday. But was he merely afraid of gettin’ scorched by the oh-so-swift Mr. Saunders?? Ha, ha. I was ready to time the race. With a sundial. Meanwhile, today’s best baserunner was almost a dog. Buddha, a Bernece Mountain Dog weighing almost 100 pounds, broke free from its owner and came whipping down the third base line. He would have scored, easily, but someone standing along the fence (not the owner) whistled and said, “C’mere, boy!” Buddha veered off and exited the field through the gap between the cage and restraining fence in front of Swenson’s bench. Oh, well. Maybe Buddha can come back to the field in August, and score during some kind of youth game. You know, during the dog days of summer . . .
Lansdale Catholic 8, Conwell-Egan 6 (10 inn.)
LC’s players and coaches were saying they always experience strange goings-on for games at C-E. Let the wackiness continue! Not only did this game require 10 innings and 183 minutes, there were two very strange plays and if they’d happened during a playoff game, everyone would still be arguing. No. 1: In the home fourth, C-E sr. LF-RH Dan Hoffmire got credit for a three-run double to left-center that was caught and then, oops, no it wasn’t. Running toward left, jr. LH-CF Pat Duggan, who’d been the starting pitcher, made a diving attempt at a low liner. The base ump ruled the play an out, but then, apparently, thought he spotted the ball on the grass and changed his call. The LC guys were already semi-celebrating and beginning to run off the field and the momentary confusion allowed the third run to score. Scheeeeez. No. 2: With two away in the visiting 10th, sr. OF-LH Jon Motts singled to right and Duggan followed with a grounder that was booted near the second base bag. An infielder whipped the ball to sr. 1B Beau Fleming and the base ump called Motts out. One big problem: Fleming was off the bag. Not really that close to it at all. That was quickly pointed out to the ump and he reversed his call. After sr. 1B Rick Norwood milked a walk, sr. RF Pat Carney sent a looper into left-center for a two-run single that wound up winning it. DN ink went to sr. C Kevin Neumann, who played right field in ’11 and was kind enough to move behind the dish for his senior season even though he’ll be an outfielder at Penn State Abington. On a hot day, Neumann wound up having to nurture SIX pitchers and had a good outing -- in clutch moments, anyway – for the offense. In the sixth, he drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Carney’s infield single. His two-run single highlighted a three-run seventh and, on one of those first-and-third, let’s-try-to-trick-‘em plays, he was able to run home and score before Motts got tagged for the third out. That 6-3 lead didn’t hold up, of course, as C-E posted one run on Murray’s RBI single up the middle, an infield error off the bat of jr. 2B Mike Petrizzi and a bases-loaded walk to Fleming. The win went to soph RH Matt Kress, who spun two innings of no-hit, shutout ball. On Senior Day, Andrew Ellis, C-E’s first-year coach, started a whole bunch of 12th graders who usually don’t get much time. They played through four innings before yielding to their “superiors.” A highlight was the doubleplay, off a popup, turned by sr. 2B John Macnamara. One underclass sub, jr. LF Tyler Grabowski, had an excellent outing. He backpedaled very quickly and caught a liner, oh!, up over his head and smacked a pair of singles as well. Jr. C Dan Sullivan, who went the distance, also collected two hits. The Eagles really got into the Senior Day thing and the underclassmen were reading aloud funny/heartfelt tributes to the old heads. LC’s 10-year-old batboy, Julian Norwood (son of the coach, brother of the first baseman), was his usual high-energy self. He asked to have his picture taken maybe 73 times (ha ha) and provided non-stop entertainment in other ways, too. As always, I asked the interview subject to pinpoint where he lives. When Neumann said Silverdale, I was dumbfounded. There aren’t too many places I haven’t at least heard of. Silverdale? He said it’s near Hilltown – oh, THAT clears things up (ha ha); nah, I’ve at least heard of that place – and during a Google check in the office I found that Silverdale is a small borough with 871 people (as of the 2010 census), and that its Pub students go to Pennridge. Glad to be of service, peeps. Silverdale rules!!
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 4, Penn Charter 0
Two things lit up today. A radar gun, thanks to PC sr. RH Kenny Koplove (Duke). And the eyes of SCH jr. LH Matt “Squeeze” Kozemchak, when he SAW the radar gun. The presence of the RG meant a scout was in the house and THAT meant there was a chance to impress. Will Kozemchak prove to be good enough to draw MLB attention as a senior? Who knows? But the fellow in attendance had to be impressed and, if nothing else, he’ll undoubtedly mention Squeeze’s name to friends/associates in college positions. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I write the DN story about the winning team. That guideline was ignored today because I wanted to give proper due to retiring PC coach Rick Mellor, who is co-coaching this season (his 34th) with former Germantown Academy/Penn assistant Jon Cross. A photo set was also slapped together and I wish Ricky, likewise a 1969 PC grad (what an athlete!), nothing but the best! Also, thanks to the SCH guys for understanding – you do understand, right, guys? (smile) -- why their triumph did not receive DN ink. At least through the first three-four innings, Koplove routinely hit 92 to 94 MPH on the gun. Yes, 92 to 94. Considering his slight build and the fact that he works exclusively from the stretch, it’s amazing that Kenny even hits the 80s, let alone the 90s. But his stuff was BLAZIN’. Kozemchak did not throw as hard, of course, but his pitches had good zip along with that natural lefty tail and he helped himself with a pair of pickoffs. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five. Aside from the baserunning misadventures, PC also hurt itself with some defensive indecision. Three times, Koplove walked leadoff batters – second, fourth and sixth innings -- and each guy scored. Can’t imagine THAT has happened too often to him. Koplove had to be especially frustrated by the events of the fifth. Four times righthanded batters put the ball into play to the right side and one run resulted. In that frame frosh RF Kenny Bergmann made a sprawling snag of a liner. In the sixth, soph 2B Demetrius Isaac made a tremendous play – full-out dive – on a ball to his left. Two batters later, LF Matt Caldwell sent a liner toward right-center. Bergmann hustled over and made a terrific effort while sprawling. Alas, he appeared to briefly stab at something right after the play and the base ump made a no-catch ruling. Was he picking up a ball that had barely escaped his glove? Not positive, but it surely gave off that aura. SCH’s RBI went to Caldwell on a fielder’s choice and the aforementioned double; to 2B Sam Feirson on a slicing single down the RF line; and to CF Zach Jancarski on – you got it – a slicing double down the RF line. Koplove allowed seven hits and four walks while striking out five. Sr. SS Dan Hull made a vintage play for SCH, ranging back into shallow left-center and then, oh!, stretching/sprawling back to snag a blooper off Koplove’s bat. In the seventh, Kozemchak absorbed a hard shot on the foot/ankle off the bat of sr. 1B Tucker Colton but was able to tough things out and finish the game. The only PC guy with two hits was sr. CF Nick Lamb, the No. 9 hitter. One was a ringing double to left-center. Soph LF Zach Kurtz (groundball single in the second) had to sit down after hurting his shoulder on a dive back to first. His replacement, jr. Ted Foley, singled hard to right and launched a fly ball reasonably deep to center. Due to an injury that has sidelined him for much of the season, sr. INF Demetrius “Meat” Jennings was again unavailable for the Quakers. He’s going to Wofford, in South Carolina, and is pretty much Koplove’s forever buddy. Those guys are FIVE-year varsity players and willingly posed for a pic with coach Mellor – smiled, even – after a tough afternoon. Thanks, men . . . Oh, about the Squeeze nickname for Kozemchak. As jr. 3B Matt Rowland explained, Matt was trying to lay down a squeeze bunt in an indoor, preseason workout when something went wrong and the ball, after bouncing off the ceiling, hit him square on the nose and broke it. Ouch! (I didn’t write down Rowland’s description, but it was something like that.) Anyway, the Blue Devils have been calling Matt “Squeeze” ever since. Today, they should have been calling him "Very Impressive."
PUBLIC AA SEMIFINAL
Prep Charter 10, Phila. Academy Charter 4
The Luck of the Ejected did not hold up for PAC coach Jack Smith. Having been tossed from the last game, he was on site but not in uniform as his squad visited 7th and Packer to play Prep Charter. The last time I arrived at a field to find that one team’s coach would be inactive, having been tossed from the previous game, that school’s pitcher, Eric McGough, spun a no-hitter (admittedly dicey; he walked nine) as Carroll tamed Conwell-Egan. PAC would have no such luck. The Chargers did score the first run – within the first three batters, even – but positive moments would be scarce from there and PC mostly imposed its will. Every so often, I’ll go to a game and see and/or hear something that screams out, “There’s my story!” (Assuming everything falls into place, of course.) That happened today and you can read about it in the wonderful Daily News – only $1 at a Wawa near you; plus many other places -- or online at philly.com. Jr. RH Pete Piccoli pitched the first six innings and was money after surrendering a one-out single to sr. SS Chris Maguire and an RBI double to right by sr. 1B-RH Jorge Martinez in the first frame. He wound up fanning 13 guys and must have been pretty deceptive because a lot of the Chargers were flailing. He yielded four hits and only Martinez’ went for extra bases. The seventh was a mess and things could have gotten very interesting if PAC had posted one booming hit when the bases were loaded. Oddly, the Huskies scored three of their runs against soph LH Travis Zink (his frosh brother, Tim, was the catcher) on sac flies to right. One in the third by frosh SS Keegan McKoskey and two more in the fourth by jr. CF Frank Suppa and sr. LF Sal Convento. The bottom of the order made major contributions. Soph 2B Justin Bocelli, at No. 8, and soph C Christian Coppola, at No. 9, had matching performances with two hits, including a double, and two runs scored. Convento was the No. 7 hitter and he crunched a double in the four-run sixth. McKoskey went 2-for-3 with the SF and two RBI and soph PH Chris “Chill” Ciliberto rapped a two-run single to left in the sixth. He began the seventh in right field, then went to the mound after soph LH Robert Freer went BB/HBP/HBP. Chill had an interesting outing on the hill. He allowed a hit and walked two, but did strike out the side. He also showed a pretty funny expression while uncorking his pitches. Kinda looked like a fish. Check it out. Ex-GAMP star Dom Raia, fresh off a strong first season at Chestnut Hill College, was among the spectators. There was occasional rain, but nothing heavy and nothing too sustained. Much appreciated, weather people. The skies looked wicked all game long and a downpour would not have surprised.
PUBLIC AAA QUARTERFINAL
Engineering and Science 7, Roxborough 5
How was coach Bob Stowman supposed to know E&S would actually turn out to be legit? After all, the Engineers had gone just 6-5 in Division C while Roxborough had fashioned an 8-2 mark in Division B. Guess what. Circumstance are sometimes very bad indicators. Against the Indians’ No. 2 starter, sr. RH Frank Legrady (Stowman was saving sr. RH Ralph Martinez for an anticipated semi on Monday), E&S posted a surprise three-spot in the visiting first and remained in front the rest of the way. This was hardly the cleanest game ever. E&S was guilty of EIGHT errors, but again and again Roxborough was unable to get the kind of clutch, ringing hit that would have caused the Engineers to truly sweat. Sr. LH Dougie Williams and sr. RH David Tucker are pitchers 1 and 1-A for E&S, or vice versa, and coach Gene Carboni went with Williams mostly because he’s good at keeping runners anchored to first base. Rox had just one steal, and a runner was also picked off by Williams, so the decision proved to be all kinds of brilliant. E&S scored its other four runs in the fifth, two innings after Martinez replaced Legrady. Sr. 1B Scott Ervin., a true big-‘un with a nice lefty swing, started the uprising with a booming double to right-center. Frosh 2B January “Hot Dog” Llaverias (gotta love that name, right?) got one run home with a sac fly (though the ball was dropped) while sr. CF Gus Jenkins later added a run with a single to center. Roxborough committed two of its three miscues in this frame and they made three of the four runs unearned. Llaverias had posted the only true RBI (via a hit, that is) in the first. Williams, who hits righthanded and helped himself with a pair of sac bunts, forced ‘Boro to strand six guys in scoring position (among 10 overall). Amazingly, after getting just two strikeouts beforehand, he humped up to whiff the game’s final two batters with the tying runs on base. From one specific standpoint – namely, the racial makeup of the teams – this outcome was rather monumental. Despite the best efforts of certain individuals and organizations, baseball in Philly’s African-American circles has been weak for two-plus decades. In 1983, Franklin, with seven blacks and two Hispanics in the lineup, was good enough to win the Pub championship (while defeating Roxborough in the final). Every year, or so it seemed, one or two black guys would be drafted or signed to minor league contracts as free agents. Now, there are very few players capable of advancing to even the lower levels of college ball, let alone the pros. Basketball and football are just too dominant. While in no way am I suggesting that E&S’ win is going to spur a significant diamond revival in the A-A community, it definitely will be viewed in a much better light than a perfunctory drubbing would have been . . . Two legendary spectators: Joe Turvey, star catcher for Roxborough (’89; he was part of a memorable triple play) and a former minor leaguer, and Eric Ervin, Scott’s father and recently named by yours truly as McDevitt’s third best basketball player over the last 35 seasons. Eric was not aware of that “honor.” (Nor was his son.) Geez, guess news doesn’t always travel fast these days (smile). Great to see both of you!
Del-Val 17, Lamberton 2 (6 inn.)
This game had been postponed twice, so over the weekend I exchanged text messages with Lamberton coach Lou D’Alonzo, one of the all-time good guys and a former football head coach/assistant at several city-league schools, to be sure this game was indeed scheduled for today. He confirmed the details – 3:15 at Papa Playground, Haverford and Lansdowne Avenues – and jokingly added, “I’m going to say a rosary asking for no ‘Only in the Pub’ moments.” So, what happened? You got it. A classic OITP right off the bat. Er, off the soccer goal. Over the weekend, a soccer goal was installed about 180 feet down the rightfield line, exactly parallel to it and roughly six feet into fair territory. The goal would have been a serious hazard, so Lou, D-V coach Will Cambria and players from both squads joined forces – with tools and sheer strength – to remove it from the ground and carry it deep into foul territory. Two mini-cones were used to fill the holes where the posts had been and, luckily, they didn’t come close to being an issue. There’d be one other legendary development, but not until the home sixth. When jr. SS Jelahn Williams moved from SS to P, the original hurler, jr. Charles Wright, took his place. The catch: Wright is lefthanded and that gave the Warriors lefties at both positions on that side of the infield. Sr. Melvin Green was stationed at third throughout. Two lefties on the left side of the infield. Makes so much sense, right? Ha, ha. As you can tell by the score, this game did not exactly take us to Classicville. Lamberton was quite sloppy behind sr. RH Leon Bynum and LB hurt his cause by somehow plunking the eighth and ninth hitters two times apiece. (Also, he registered eight strikeouts against the last three guys in the order. Weird!) D-V’s far-and-away headliner was frosh DH Rainiel “Ray” Bravo, who went 5-for-5 with a homer and four RBI. The dinger, to right-center, came in his final at-bat – in fact, he batted twice in the sixth – and was good for two RBI. Demetrius “Meech” Green, a jr C and Melvin’s brother, had an RBI triple and scored three times. Gotta love that, right? Sr. 2B Ashiy Small went 2-for-5 with three RBI and jr. 1B Ian Dennis laced a double. Wright reached three times on errors. Soph C Jordan Bynum, Leon’s brother, collected two of the Blue Devils' three hits and his best was a triple in a two-run fifth. Sr. LF Simire Foulks, who also made hard contact on an out, managed a single. Wright allowed all three of the hits while fanning nine. Williams whiffed a trio and free-passed the same number. Wright and Williams are transfers from Girard College and they’ve been a big help to the Warriors; it’s obvious they’ve played some baseball. As Williams had some trouble finding the strike zone, D. Green came out from behind the plate and walked about halfway to the mound. Over at 1B, Dennis kiddingly yelled in toward him, “You always tryin’ to TALK to somebody. Like you got some words of WISDOM.” Earlier, when the sound of Williams’ fastball hitting Green’s mitt made a loud popping noise – this was off to the side, when Williams was warming up in anticipation of replacing Wright – Green said, loudly, “Somebody got an AK-47?!?!” Way before that, one of D-V’s players got hit by a pitch. As he arrived at first base, he was asked by a nearby adult, “Where’d that hit you?” The batter responded, “My right butt cheek.” The adult said to others nearby, “If you can’t hit the ball, I guess that’s a good way to get on base.” There was occasional drizzle all game long, but nothing brutal. Two female spectators were sitting nearby, on a large boulder, when a pop foul came close to hitting them. They flinched/bailed big-time and I wound up showing them the picture, which they found to be humorous. Later, we mixed in a regular photo op. Well, KIND of regular. One gal gave the other rabbit ears. What's with that?? Ha, ha.
Springside Chestnut Hill 3, Episcopal 2 (8 inn.)
After the game, some SCH players were ordered to head down to the bullpen/batting cage areas and make things tidy. One of those guys was jr. 3B Matt Rowland and I was pretty sure I heard him say with a laugh, “If I don’t get the article, I’m gonna throw a fit.” Another Blue Devil was standing right nearby. He confirmed the remark and we both had a laugh. No worry, dude. You were definitely getting the article (though it was only for philly.com and not for SportsWeek.) Why? Um, it was probably the one-out solo homer you crunched to left-center to win the game! No one else was THAT sensational in this tilt between teams that entered with identical 1-5 league records, so Rowland was an easy choice. The dinger came on a first-pitch fastball from sr. RH reliever Drew Peters, who replaced effective sr. LH Noel Swanson with one away in the seventh. Like others, Rowland was worried that maybe his bolt was too much of a liner to leave the yard. Ah, but the fence at SCH is very low and the ball did clear it, landing maybe 8 feet behind? The extra giddy Rowland was pummeled at the plate and, soon, entertaining team nutjob Jamie Young, who must gulp down 5-Hour Energy once an hour, was pirouetting up the first base side while yelling, “Matt Rowland!! You jokin’ me?” Yes, the homer was Matt’s first of the season, but it wasn’t as if deserved a spot in the cheapie column. He DID nail it. The teams combined for 13 hits and, amazingly, eight never left the infield. There were no extra base hits aside from Rowland’s homer. The one run scored against sr. RH Christian Salem was unearned. Salem fanned three guys in the first inning, but dismissed just two thereafter. No matter. He mixed speeds and pitches very well and often had the Churchmen off-balance. Salem departed with runners on first and third in the sixth and sr. RH Tim Menninger replaced him. EA tried the ol’ run-off-first play, but Menninger maintained his poise and jr. LF Rob Ibarguen was the victim of a rundown, with sr. 1B Matt Primavera applying the tag. EA tallied once in the seventh on an infield single by sr. 2B Collin Wright, move-him-up grounder by sr. CF Colin Hartzell and groundball close to the leftfield line by jr. RF Anthony Perretti. SCH’s seventh went like this: single to center by jr. PH Craig Alleyne opened SCH's seventh. After sr. RF Pat Foley (two hits) milked a one-out walk, sr. SS Dan Hull stroked an infield single and a tacked-on throw sailed way past first, allowing Alleyne to score. Primavera followed with a sacrifice fly to center against Peters. Menninger pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Some guys celebrating their 50th CHA reunion were on hand and righthander Gary Pearson threw a ceremonial first pitch to catcher Bob Zink. Thing was wicked! Ha, ha. It appeared to slide at the last second and Zink wasn’t able to catch it. In the sixth, as sr. 2B Sam Feirson was getting ready to hit, a teammate yelled, “Show 'em how 'feirs' you are!!” Salem was standing next to me. I said to him, “I can only imagine how many times he’s heard that.” As in, a pun on the pronunciation of his last name. Salem said, “Actually, I’ve never heard anyone say that to him.” Also, at one point I was taking pics from a shade down the rightfield line and two Blue Devils were sitting in chairs to the side of the bullpen. There was a low throw on a grounder and we had a short discussion on how errors are charged on such plays; Primavera almost held on to a scoop. I mentioned that low throws get first basemen off the error hook and Menninger (pretty sure it was him) said, “Makes sense. Cuts down on the ambiguity.” Ding, ding, ding! That’s an example of something I mention every so often: You Know You’re at an Inter-Ac Game When . . . The best example occurred one year at a Penn Charter football game when PA announcer John Burkhart intoned, “The gain on that play was negligible.” Yeah, baby! (smile). On the coolness meter, SCH’s staff gives those at La Salle and Bonner serious competition. Stan Parker is the coach. His assistants are John McArdle, Jack Purdy, Dennis Primavera, Ken Conlin and Bob Undercuffler. Great to see all of you, guys! Also in attendance was Best Teammate ’11 Nick Barile. And he’s STILL a great teammate. When I asked Nick to edge toward the field so I could take his picture, he convinced fellow ’11 grad Nick Boyle to walk over and stand next to him. Two Nicks for the price of none. Niiiice!
O’Hara 4, Bonner 3 (8 inn.)
The mind was racing like Usain Bolt. As the game moved into the bottom of the 7th on Bonner’s incorrectly laid out field, the Big Yellow Thing popped out for the first time all day. Then we headed to the 8th, tied at 3-3, and the thought was, “Oh my goodness. What if the game keeps rolling along? Could we REALLY have Sungate, Part II?!” Honestly, I was semi-hoping because another suspended game due to sun glare undoubtedly would have drawn national attention and that would have been all kinds of cool. (This time around, I would have named it Squintgate.) Alas, the Lions shut things down early, which was entirely their right (smile). DN ink went to jr. RH Nick Donovan, who had barely pitched this season and had never gone more than four innings. He lasted seven in this one and allowed just three hits while whiffing six. He showed understated bulldog tendencies, twice causing the Friars to leave guys at third and thrice benefiting from strong, got-him throws by impressive sr. C Devin McCann. Merely because he hadn’t been told otherwise, Donovan walked to the mound for the eighth and began warming up. The wheels were turning, though, and pitching coach Mike Sundo had finalized plans to go with sr. SS Mike Schneider. Much later, I happened to walk past Schneider in the parking lot and he said the pitching appearance was his first of the season. He put the Friars down in order to notch the save. In Sungate (vs. La Salle), sr. RH Ronnie Scull worked nine strong innings and then was not involved in the decision as Bonner fell. Today he was dominant through four innings and then regressed only slightly while going the distance. Incredibly, O’Hara loaded the bases on three infield singles in the fifth and Donovan plated a run with a sac fly to left that was really a liner. To get the seventh inning rally going, jr. LF-3B Scott Grinnan set the tone by beating out what was pretty much a routine grounder to shortstop. Sr. 1B Steve Trainor then was plunked and yielded to pinch-runner Mike Sciasci, a sr. Rogers tried to advance them both with a sac, but sr. 3B Frank Saviski made a good pounce and was able to nip Sciasci at second base. Schneider sent a hard single through the left side for one run and soph pinch-runner John Banes scored the next run on a steal/E-2 combo. He wasn’t given the steal sign, but had permission to go, assuming he felt confident. In the eighth, Scull induced groundouts from the first two hitters before Grinnan reached on an infield miscue. Grinnan thieved second as Sciasci was batting and eventually got to third, which gave Rogers, a lefty swinger, the chance to plate him with a slapper to left. Bonner had scored single runs in the third (big-time triple to right-center by sr. CF Jack Liberatore), fourth (hard single to left-center by Scull) and sixth (on a wild pitch after an error prolonged the inning). Kudos to plate ump Ernie Barile, a former Penn Charter catcher and the father of recent CHA grad Nick Barile, a k a Best Teammate 2011. (Liberatore's brother, Colin, was Best Teammate 2006 for Bonner.) A few times “Ern” called semi-low strikes. Hey, give him a break. He was a catcher, as I said, and what catcher doesn’t forever love semi-low strikes? (smile) I loved the passion Ernie showed during the game, and his dedication to keep things moving. Niiiiice! Also on site was Bryan Kerns, a former Bonner baseball manager (’07) who also wrote for this website. Great to see you, Bry! Let’s see. Anything else? Oh, yeah, O’Hara might have set a city record for most position changes to start an inning!! Ha, ha, ha. Aside from Schneider going to the mound and Donovan heading to center (his usual position when he’s not pitching), we had Grinnan from left to third, sr. John Kane from 2B to SS, Sciasci from 3B to 2B and Rogers from center to left. That's six.
FACEBOOK MESSAGE RECEIVED AFTER THE JUDGE-ROMAN GAME . . .
Thought I'd share a funny, ironic story with you. As you know Judge played Roman today at the new field. My Uncle, Kevin Dougherty, was talking to B.J., (Brother Jim) Williams, and he mentioned that he used to teach at North. My uncle says, "I have some North trivia for you." Asks him who hit the first three pointer. Without hesitation B.J. rattles off my name. At that very moment they hear the crack of the bat and my uncle says to him, "Well, his cousin just got the first hit at the new field." . . . Only in the Catholic league . . . William Dougherty is Kevin's son.
Thought you would get a kick out of that. Take care.
-- Marty O'D
Ted's note: Roman SS William Dougherty, on the first pitch, lined a double into the rightfield corner. Brother Jim Williams now teaches at Judge and was North's basketball coach for nine seasons ending with '02. He's big on history, especially Catholic League stuff. And that brings us to the legendary Marty O'D; full name Marty O'Donnell. On Dec. 1, 1986, in a non-league season opener vs. Gratz, Marty became the first player in city history to make a three-point shot!! The game was played in North's gym, a k a The Pit, and Marty, a sub, connected in the fourth quarter. The rule had just been adopted by the Catholic League. The Pub wouldn't follow suit until the 1987-88 season, but Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee agreed to allow threes to be part of the game. Thanks for sharing this, Marty!
Judge 5, Roman 4
(First Game on Judge's New Field)
The baseball gods wanted Judge to win. How else do you explain a team, playing game No. 1 on its beautiful new field, getting held to one hit through six innings and then rallying to victory thanks in part to two ringing doubles and two favorable decisions from the umpires? The field, right across Solly Avenue from Judge in Ramp Playground, is ALL turf. Well, maybe 97 percent. The only dirt area is the mound. It’s 310 down the lines, 350 to the alleys and 380 to center, according to coach Tim Ginter. There are also lights and who knows what that could mean down the line? Beyond right and right-center is the brand new football field and that’s also turf. There are lights over that way, too, though I haven’t heard talk of any varsity games being held there. Anyway, let’s jump to the home seventh. Judge trailed, 4-3, when jr. OF Zack Spiker tried to bunt for a hit. Roman’s coaches insisted the ball hit him after he was outside the box, but the umps didn’t see things that way and Spiker returned to the batter’s box. Smack! Forget about buntin’, baby! He bounced a double off the fence in left and sr. RH Erik DeLone came on to replace classmate Luke Coyle, also a righty. Sr. SS John Hearn bunted Spiker to third and jr. OF Mike O’Hanlon, a lefty swinger, followed with an inside-out chopper to sr. 3B Tom Carroll. His throw home bounced in the turf (remember, no dirt) and Spiker scored. (There was also a controversy early in O’Hanlon’s at-bat. It’s explained in the DN story.) Sr. 3B Tim Ross fanned for out No. 2, then jr. 1B John Reyes, via the re-entry rule, sent a shot to almost the same spot Spiker’s had gone. It, too, went for a double and jr. Andrew Maenner, who’d been summoned to run for O’Hanlon, was held at third. Up stepped jr. C Ryan Mackiewicz, who three-plus hours earlier had been the first guy to set foot on the playing surface. Ding! Admittedly, the contact he made with the ball was not the best in diamond history. But the blooper fell safely into shallow left, Maenner dashed home with nooooo trouble and Mackiewicz soon was at the bottom of Mount Crusader. Quite a way to end the field’s first contest. Wanting to witness/photograph as much as possible, I got to the field at 2:07 and the first pitch wouldn’t be until 3:45 (though they actually started a shade early at 3:40). It took just three minutes for the first Crusaders to show up; Mackiewicz, O’Hanlon and jr. DH Brandon Mau. Soon thereafter, sr. RH Rob Walmsley arrived. One problem: the entry gate was locked. As more Crusaders popped up, Roman’s entire team made an appearance at 2:30. Ten minutes later, just when a Dept. of Rec employee was going to open the gate, Ginter did the honors and Ross was the first guy to follow him through. Then the race began! Ha, ha. Not really, but Mackiewicz did pass Ross as the 'Saders walked down the path behind their dugout and then made the left turn to get onto the field. The first pitch? Highlight time. Jr. RH Josh Teson did the delivering and sr. SS William Dougherty did the smacking. The ball went into the right field corner and Doc wound up with a double. He even moved to third on a wild pitch as sr. LF Paolo Gambaro was batting, but there he stayed as Teson escaped with no damage. Maybe an omen? Judge tallied two runs in the second on a wild pitch and a groundball single to left by jr. 2B Jeff Seigafuse. Seigafuse scored in the fifth, the last frame for soph RH Kyle Rogalski, as Hearn rapped into a fielder’s choice. Dougherty and Gambaro lined singles in Roman’s third and the former scored on a balk. A three-run fifth was highlighted by RBI singles from jr. 1B Matt Simon (for one run) and jr. 2B Nick Stoffere (for two). Walmsley replaced Teson after Stoffere’s base knock and Roman had runners on first and third. Stoffere broke off first and Walmsley, showing good presence of mind and poise, was able to step off the rubber and gun down sr. RF Dan Sowisdral at the plate. The Judge kids said they practiced on the field Monday and Tuesday and that the sun – in right-center – had been something of an issue. There was not even a hint of sun for this one, but thankfully it didn’t rain at all despite serious grayness. All day there’d been showers and sprinkles. On Saturday at 2 p.m., Judge will host McDevitt and Ginter said there’ll be more in the way of celebration. Dennis Foglia, McDevitt’s first-year coach, was a first team All-Catholic pitcher for Judge in ’77. That LIKELY was the last year Judge played on the original field at Ramp (then called Holmesburg Playground) before moving to Pollock (now officially named McArdle). Hung out for part of the game with Judge teacher Dave “D.J.” Mulholland, who was Ryan’s basketball coach from the mid-‘80s to mid-‘90s. He confirmed that two CL coaching legends, Whitey Sullivan (football) and Joe McDermott (baseball), are still teaching at Judge. Meanwhile, Ginter said he’d hoped to have “Derm” throw out today’s first ball, “but he had grandpop duties” after the completion of the school day. Joe was a star player at Roman, so that would have been a good fit.
JUDGE'S STARTING LINEUP
Zack Spiker lf
John Hearn ss
Mike O'Hanlon rf
Tim Ross 3b
John Reyes 1b
Ryan Mackiewicz c
Brandon Mau dh
Josh Teson p
Paul Golden cf
Jeff Seigafuse 2b
FIELD FIRSTS, IN ORDER . . .
Gate opened: at 2:40 by Judge coach Tim Ginter
Player to pass through gate: Tim Ross
Player to step onto playing surface: Ryan Mackiewicz
Deliver first prayer: Ginter (from memory)
First pitch: Josh Teson to William Dougherty (hit into rightfield corner for double)
Wild pitch: Teson (with Paolo Gambaro batting)
Assist/putout: Ross to John Reyes
Walk: Zack Spiker (with Kyle Rogalski pitching)
Strikeout: Colin Cooke (leading off second)
Single: Nick Stoffere (two outs in second)
HBP: Reyes (by Rogalski; leading off second)
Passed ball: Phil Isaac (moving Reyes to second)
Error: 3B Tom Carroll (throw, moving Reyes to third)
Stolen base: Mackiewicz
Wild pitch: Rogalski (scoring Reyes for first run)
RBI: On single by Jeff Seigafuse (scoring Mackiewicz)
Balk: Teson (scoring Dougherty in third)
Sacrifice: Carroll (in fifth)
Caught stealing: Ken Sowisdral at home (on throw by the first reliever, Rob Walmsley, after Stoffere started to run toward second)
Doubleplay: off Dougherty's liner to Mike O'Hanlon
Game-winning RBI: Mackiewicz (scoring pinch-runner Andrew Maenner)
Winning pitcher: Walmsley
Losing pitcher: Erik DeLone
No triples or homers
Triple: Chris Thompson, Judge, 5/5 vs. McDevitt (second game played at the field)
Home run: Cory Kreamer, Judge, 5/9 vs. Lansdale Catholic (third game played at the field)
GAMP 5, Franklin Towne Charter 1
It’s not too uncommon in basketball for guys to shoot bricks. In baseball, meanwhile, it’s not every day you see a pitcher hand bricks to his coach. Repeat after me, folks. And I know you love to do it . . . Only in the Pub! Bricks are beneath the dirt at the front part of the mound at 7th and Packer and thrice they became dislodged. The first delay was only seconds as soph RH Jake “From State Farm” Kurtz walked toward GAMP’s dugout and handed coach Art Kratchman a small brick. The next two delays were longer as FTC jr. RH Tim Hart and then Kurtz, again, had to wait for Kratch & Krew to rearrange the bricks, pound them down, wet the dirt, etc. As mentioned in the DN story, at one point FT coach Kyle Riley, disappointed with his ballclub’s often lackluster play, groaned, "I'm going to ask them for one of the bricks so I can hit myself in the head with it." Earlier, as Kratchman pounded the area with a tamper tool, Riley had quipped, "I guess this gives new meaning to 'hitting the bricks.' Sr. George Klein, FTC's third baseman, was right nearby. He said, "I don't even know what that saying means." Ha, ha, ha. DN ink went to sr. 3B Desmond Drummond, who goes 6-foot, 205, and gives off an aura that says, could be special down the line. He’s relatively new to baseball, but Kratch is very high on his possibilities given his bat speed and body. Drummond enjoyed just three plate appearances, drawing a walk (very unusual; he loves to hack), slamming a solo homer over the fence in left-center and grounding out to shortstop. Also, he made a nice, cut-across play on a grounder and snuck in behind a baserunner to take a pickoff throw from jr. C Jeremy Castellanos and successfully apply a got-him tag. GAMP also posted two-spots in the first and third against hard-lucker Hart, who allowed just four hits (only Drummond’s was well struck) and fanned eight in five frames. On loopers, jr. SS Joe Brinkman had RBI singles in each mini-uprising. Sr. RF Nick Carine (groundout in first) and soph 2B Dante “Anyone Need a Vowel? I’ve Got Plenty” Sanguilliano (infield single in fourth) notched the other RBI. The Coyotes were guilty of five errors of commission and one big one of omission on Sanguilliano’s safety; the guilty party did not finish the game. Though neither one helped to produce a run, Sanguilliano laid down two sacrifice bunts. Sr. 1B Tyler Criniti reached twice on errors and once on a walk, but after the free pass he was victimized for a pickoff on a good throw by jr. RH Tyler Keller, who’d started the game in right. In FTC’s second, jr. C Mike Guilian was gunned down at the plate on a nice throw from Carine. Jr. 1B Chris Hartman, FTC’s cleanup hitter, went 2-for-3 with a ground-rule double to right-center that brought around jr. 2B Elias Rosa in the sixth. Soph RF Chris Hammerstein went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Kurtz went the distance, permitting seven hits and striking out nine. This game didn’t feature much of an atmosphere. There were no more than 20 spectators and the gray skies/semi-chilly temps did nothing to help the cause. Three of Drummond’s basketball teammates – Devon Ford, Tobias Stokes, Mikhail Wilson – walked all the way over/down from GAMP to see him play. Alas, they missed his homer. (The Pioneers’ games start at 2:45 because local youth teams usually hop onto the field the instant games conclude. Didn’t notice that today, though, honestly.) One of GAMP’s managers is Gabriella Frangipani. Her uncle, Greg, is Bok’s new basketball coach. Her father, Steve, a k a “Snitch”, was a star athlete for Southern.
Bartram 12, West Phila. 1
Some quarters are smarter than others. My original plan today was to attend Del-Val at Lamberton, but for some mysterious reason that one was postponed. I rechecked the schedule and decided to pick between West-Bartram and Boys' Latin-Saul. Well, I decided to let a QUARTER make the pick. West-Bartram was heads and it won the best-of-seven flips, 4-2. Off to 58th and Elmwood we go! Was the game competitive? Not at all, truthfully. West had just 10 players in uniform and fill-in coach Adam Kuchemba (Barry Strube is serving again in the military; stay safe, sir!) said only three had played baseball before this season. Granted, Bartram is not exactly overflowing with guys who'd make scouts' mouths water, but the Braves were significantly better. This visit was lots of fun. Both teams have some personable kids and I knew a few from football season. Plus, the extras were off the charts. Bartram has six guys with uniform numbers higher than 49, and they were more than willing to group for a pair of fun pics. Then, right after the game ended, as the score sheet was being completed, I heard a commotion and looked up to see Bartram CF Darius Sanders, who's an extremely fast runner, doing flips across the infield and then, thump, sticking the landing right near the mound! Ha, ha, ha. Great! He then did another short set and, wouldn't you know it, that elicited a response from West's Manny Withers. He started off by the third base line and flipped one, two, three, four, five . . . damn, who KNOWS many times?! By the time he finished he was not too far from second base! Outstanding! As the commotion died down a little, West CF Barry Williams said, "I can do that." I told him, "Come on out. I'll take a picture." He did one flip. I took one pic. Great show, guys! Bartram's heroes were numerous. Sr. RH Jahmeer Faulcon pitched a one-hitter in the five-inning game, allowed only an RBI single by Withers in the third. Faulcon also ran out a grand slam to center in the second. Frosh 2B Quenzel Members then absolutely torched a shot down the leftfield line. Or should we say "up" the leftfield line? There's a small incline running through that part of the field and beyond it are the track and football field. Members is a big kid, but had no trouble circling the bases for a solo homer. Meanwhile, soph 3B Deion Sanders, another big dude, looped a two-run single to center in the first and jr. 1B Abdur Saaba thumped a two-run single to left in the third. Sr. C Tajai Ahmad gunned down one, two, three would-be basestealers and completed his performance with a run-scoring single in the fourth. Faulcon was wearing a light blue polo shirt under his uniform top and my suspicion was correct: It was what he wears to school every day as a student at Comm Tech. CT's players now represent Bartram because their school dropped the sport after the 2011 season. Jahmeer said he forgot an undershirt and just decided to wear the blue school shirt. He got a kick out of hearing about Vincent "School Shirt" Turner, a star lineman for Gratz in 2001; he picked up that nickname because he wore his school shirt under his football pads EVERY day. Saaba also is from CT, along with a couple other players. There were some crazy sequences. In the third, Darius Sanders (no relation) fanned on a pitch that got away. He ran to first and absolutely crushed sr. 1B Jesse Thomas, who was trying to snag an errant throw. Later, Sanders was way down the line toward home when a liner by Ahmad was caught by SS Damion Cox. Sanders should have been double off third by 20 feet, but the throw was dropped. In the third, Withers was a dead duck at third base but in a leap toward the bag he was able to dislodge the ball from Deion Sanders' glove. Withers couldn't stand the good fortune. He overran the bag by eight to 10 feet and was tagged out by Sanders. In the fourth, Ahmad was late getting to the plate and the ump indicated that Withers should throw a pitch. Strike one! Ahmad was not even on the field, let alone in the batter's box. Remember how lately we've had some fun with the fact that certain Catholic League players are named after CL schools? Well, West's catcher is named Joseph Southern. Gotta love that, right? In the fourth inning, though a man was on first base, Withers was pitching from a windup. 3B Kyen Tyler hollered into him, "Yo! Stretch, Manny!" So, what did Withers do? He stepped off the mound and stretched his arms backward, as if trying to make himself looser. He then threw the next pitch from a windup. (Bartram wasn't bothering with steals anymore.) Let's see. Anything else? OH, YES! Major props to Cox. The Florida transplant has scored 2100 on the three-part SAT and is bound for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. And by the time you say that name, half the school year is over (smile). Congratulations on doing spectacular work in the classroom, Damion!!
Roman 18, Ryan 15
A no-hitter one day. A MANY-hitter the next. Life on the baseball trail never ceases to amaze. As many folks know, Roman’s Boyce Field is not exactly as big as all outdoors and if a hitter can’t be brimming with hope, if not unabashed confidence, in this place, it’s probably time to try lacrosse, tennis or track. Yes, the fence in center is relatively high (maybe 25 to 30 feet?), but it’s only 316 feet to the midpoint of that, ahem, barrier (term used loosely) and three balls cleared it today. All by Ryan, as circumstance would have it. Jr. C Matt Graber, a tall/thin guy, homered twice in that direction in one of the best performances you could ever hope to see – 4-for-4, two-run homer, RBI single, two-run double, three-run homer for, count 'em, EIGHT ribbies! So did jr. LF-RH Gage Galeone, whose bomb was worth three runs. Roman outta-hered two balls and the second one, shockingly, made the difference. Sr. CF-LH Colin Cooke, in the second inning, drilled one over the fence in right – that’s a legit shot – for three runs. The other one occurred on the last pitch of the game and, you got it, served as one of those walkoffs. Jr. 1B Matt Simon (also plays basketball) hit it right down the extremely short left field line and, just enough, it kept from hooking foul. One, two, three, four runs scored and the slam enabled the Cahillites to erase a 15-14 deficit. What a game! Roman led, 7-2, then trailed, 12-7. The count was 15-10 entering that home seventh and here’s what happened with soph RH Nick Centeno doing the pitching . . . Cooke tripled to right. Sr. RF Dan Sowisdral delivered an RBI single in the same direction. Jr. DH Nick Stoffere singled to right-center. An infield bobble off the bat of sr. 2B Kevin Konowal let in a run. Soph C Phil Isaac flied out. Sr. SS William Dougherty ripped an RBI single to center. Sr. LF Paolo Gambaro milked a walk. Sr. 3B-RH Tom Carroll bagged an RBI single on a semi-liner to center that barely cleared the glove of Ryan’s leaping 2B, soph Bobby Romano. That made it 15-14 and Simon turned on a fastball to end it. The game featured 27 hits with Roman leading the way, 15-12. There were also five doubles (Ryan led, 3-2) and one triple (by Cooke) in addition to the five homers. Sometimes, games with 33 runs are true slopfests. And, yes, there were some miscues. Nevertheless, 27 of the runs were earned and how often will you ever see that? As this one rolled along, I kept thinking of another run-crazy game I’d seen involving Ryan. On April 28, 2003, the visiting Raiders bested O’Hara, 20-16 (for some reason, I’d remembered the score as 18-16) and you’ll never believe this one: that losing team’s catcher, Kevin Ahern, was also sensational. The lefty hitter (Graber swings righty), who liked to inside-out the ball in John Kruk fashion, had NINE RBI on a three-run double, grand slam and two-run single. Three days later, on May 1, the trail took me to Washington. The Eagles won that one, 24-23, and it ended at 7:24. The first two innings gobbled up 87 minutes and the game in total took 4 hours, 6 minutes. It ended when jr. 2B Adam Eisman (five RBI) lined a single to left to score pinch-runner Justin Presley and set off a wild celebration. Not bad, eh? In in a four-day period, I saw two games that yielded 83 runs!! (With a mild one in between. On April 29, Olney beat Mastbaum, 5-4.) OK, sorry. Back to this one . . . Simon finished 2-for-5 with a walk, run-scoring single and five RBI. Cooke, who got the W with 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief, went 4-for-5 with a triple, three-run homer and four RBI. Carroll went 3-for-4 with a double, sac fly and three RBI. Dougherty (Northeastern) singled twice and walked twice en route to two RBI. For Ryan, Galeone complemented Graber's performance with a three-run homer. Also, jr. SS Dan Stahl doubled twice for one RBI and jr. RF Justin Price managed two singles along with a sac fly. Ryan had no seniors in the starting lineup. However, sr. 3B Mike Anusky did see some action and no doubt experienced swirling emotions. Anusky was Ryan’s feisty/effective quarterback and suffered an injury to his right knee during the Thanksgiving spanking of Washington. Today marked his triumphant return. After scoring earlier as a courtesy runner, he pinch-hit into a groundout in the fifth and then took to the field. Unfortunately, he won’t make an appearance in the upcoming City All-Star Football Game. MANY legends on the premises. No. 1 had to be Paolo Gambaro, a soccer all-timer, and I do mean ALL-timer, for Roxborough in the mid-1970s. And former Mastbaum All-City centerfielder Jose Dones, whose son, Jason, a soph, started in CF for Ryan. Also spotted was Joe Ryan, a long-time teacher there, a track whiz for Dougherty in the mid-‘60s and my basketball coach with the East Germantown Rams’ 12-and-under squad in 1963. We finished second in the city and one of our wins was by a 39-4 score over Awbury. All four Awbury points were scored by the famous Seamus McCaffery, now a Pennsylvania supreme court justice and the guy who used to run the court sessions for rowdies in the bowels of Veterans Stadium at Eagles games. (Seamus’ son, Jim, was an All-City punter for Ryan.) Also in da house was ex-Roman and Gwynedd-Mercy star Anthony Capella (’03), who advanced to pro ball with the Camden Riversharks in 2009. Great to see everyone! Pretty cool to see a million runs, too (smile).
Here's my score sheet for Roman. Dots are RBI.
Carroll 5, Conwell-Egan 0
What a crazy day/night on the game/email trails!! It was nutty enough that Carroll jr. RH Eric McGough pitched a no-hitter with nine walks and one HBP. When I get back to the office to write stories, I refrain from checking email so as not to be distracted. So, when I finished the game story and checked email around 8:15 or so, there was something from Neumann-Goretti assistant Joe Messina. He said Joey Gorman had almost pitched a no-no, but had been jinxed by the plate ump with one away in the seventh! Our editors OK’d an add-on to the Carroll story – just a few paragraphs – about how Gorman almost matched McGough’s feat. So, then, I start cropping all the photos from the game and, just for the heck of it, decide to take another glance at the email inbox. Therein is a note from John Fleming, who’s now the coach at Neumann University and in 2003, as a fill-in for Frank Allison (health issue), steered O’Hara to the Catholic League title. One of the Lions’ key performers that season was Michael Antonini, a lefthander pitcher, first baseman and Fleming’s step-son. Guess what he is now? A Los Angeles Dodger!! Michael was promoted earlier today to flesh out the bullpen and John was sending a heads-up. Michael Antonini is now in the major leagues! How cool is that!? I forwarded some tidbits to our Daily News editors for use in the major league roundup. McGough/Gorman/Antonini. What a trifecta! As for the game, as hinted above, this no-no wasn’t exactly spotless. But, hey, no matter how many guys you walk/plunk, you still need to bag 21 outs and McGough was able to do that with hardly any drama. And get this: He has now worked 13 consecutive hitless innings. He hadn’t pitched since April 4, when he worked six hitless frames vs. Lansdale Catholic. (Lesser lights were used in the series vs. struggling Bishop McDevitt.) He threw 92 pitches, but volunteered to come out of that one because his arm felt tired (as opposed to pained). Imagine. You come extremely close to a no-no, then get ANOTHER chance in your very next start. No way McGough would NOT have trudged to the mound for the seventh inning. The outs came on seven strikeouts, four groundouts (including a fielder’s choice), one caught stealing, three popups, five liners/flies to the outfield and one semi-liner within the infield. C-E stranded nine, including four in scoring position. The best defensive play was made with two out and nobody on in the sixth as jr. CF Steffen Ramondo ran in and caught a sinking liner with a semi-sprawl of a slide. Two innings earlier, though not in dramatic fashion, sr. RF Rick DiDomenico scrambled in to catch a sinker. In the second, sr. 3B James Luskin had charged to make a nice play on a would-be sac, getting a force at second. Luskin is normally a utility guy, but was needed at third due to an injury to sr. Jake Peabody. Sr. C Justin Roman was also in an unfamiliar spot. He’s normally the rightfielder, but had to switch because of an injury to sr. C Dan Santoleri. Oh, and someone else was unavailable. Namely, first-year coach Chris Dengler, who’d been ejected from Saturday’s game vs. Roman. Chris was kept abreast via cell phone and spoke with McGuff (that’s how it’s pronounced) shortly after game’s end. By the way, Eric threw 133 pitches (65 for strikes). High total? No doubt. But the weather was cool (and windy) and he didn’t appear to overly taxed. McGough’s other position is SS and he bats third in the order, so he’s hardly one-dimensional. He went 3-for-4 with a double and one RBI, but in the first inning was nabbed off second after jr. 1B LJ Chalmers fielded a groundout. That very promising frame also was undermined by a caught stealing. Carroll broke through for one apiece in the second and fourth and three in the sixth vs. burly sr. RH Beau Fleming. Ramondo had the first three RBI on a walk, groundout and infield chopper, then Luskin and McGough added RBI singles; jr. 1B Evan Harvey and soph Joe DiWilliams also had singles in that uprising. (Joe’s father/uncle/something, Phil DiWilliams, was a first team All-Catholic QB for Roman in 1972 . . . Update: Received an email from Kevin Flaherty. Phil is Joe's uncle. Joe's dad, also Joe, is a '77 Roman grad and later coached football there under Bob Wagner (who previously had coached at Egan). Thanks for the help, Kevin! Come to think of it, the camera batteries were acting up and I had to rush to the car between innings to get more. Someone said hello as I was heading back and he looked vaguely familiar. Maybe that was Joe? If so, I hope all has been going great! . . . For C-E, which has a new coach, Andrew Ellis, and a very green squad (hardly any of the names are familiar), Fleming, soph SS Billy Bonfig (several smooth moments in the field) and sr. DH John Wasson drew two walks apiece. Chalmers replaced Fleming on the mound in the sixth and retired four of the five guys he faced; one reached on an error. Jr. C Dan Sullivan twice made hard/true throws to erase would-be basestealers. He also made a tag to complete a 1-5-2 rundown play. Thanks to the Rev. Ed Casey, Carroll’s president/scorekeeper, for helping out with several fact-checking missions. I took a pre-game pic of Justin Roman and tomorrow, assuming the weather holds and I don’t forget, I’ll take a pic of Roman’s Tom Carroll. One last thing: Carroll sr. sub Brenton Nicolo has true nut-job possibilities! After warming up McGough for the home first, he came back to the bench area and said to Father Casey, "Do you have a stopwatch? See how quick I made it out there? I was the first guy on the field. Before ANYONE else." Later, he removed his hat and claimed to have a mullet. He also said he's getting other Carroll students to join the mullet club. "We have four so far," he said. Not exactly the multitudes, but a start (smile). Father Casey said Nicolo played ice hockey for the first time this past winter and that the crowd went absolutely berserk when he scored a goal. Anyone have video??
Here's my sheet for C-E. And Carroll's order was: Joe DiWilliams, LF; James Luskin, 3B; Eric McGough, P; Justin Roman, C; Steve Dengler, 2B; Evan Harvey, 1B; Rick DiDomenico, RF; Dan Bier, SS; Steffen Ramondo, CF. (Brenton Nicolo pinch-hit for Bier in the sixth, but Bier then returned to the field.)
First rainouts of baseball season! First weather related major-sports postponements since West Catholic-Lansdale Catholic football -- by SNOW -- on Oct. 29.
Malvern 10, Haverford School 1
Once "Sungate, Part II" was completed, along with the Mike Piscopo question/answer session, the issue became, “Is there enough time to make it to Malvern?” Of course! (Though dismissal time at several schools along the way made for a frustrating journey.) Getting to the field just a short time before Play Ball made pregame team pics impossible and after the Fords mostly got sliced and diced, it would have been inappropriate to ask them to pose. Cyber attention went to sr. RH Joe Ravert (La Salle), who allowed six hits and fanned the same amount in, hey, the same number of innings. In time, he found good location for his impressive heater and also worked in effective offspeed stuff. Plus, the lefty swinger, who plays 1B when not hurling, went 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double. The ball hit the fence in DEEP center field on one bounce. His two singles were also smacked. Sr. CF Nick Bateman (Winthrop) went 3-for-4 with three RBI while sr. RF Matt Greskoff laced a two-run single and jr. 1B Steve Robinson bagged one ribbie apiece on a groundout and single. In the fifth, jr. 3B Joe Poduslenko prepared to bat having lined out to short and sent a fly to deep center. Teammate Tasi Sioutis told him, “C’mon, Pods. This time it’s gonna fall. I’m feelin’ it.” Indeed it did. Poduslenko topped the ball just a few feet in front of the plate and hustled his way to an infield single. The game featured the Costalas cousins. C.J., a sr., started at SS for Malvern. Gus, also a sr., manned 2B for HS. C.J. had the pair’s only hit and made an impressive stop – against Gus, no less – of a grounder that took a crazy, last-second hop. Frosh 3B Kevin McGowan, a lefty swinger, had the Fords’ RBI on a groundball single to right. Sr. RH Eric Close mostly did well through three innings, but then was roughed up. Mike Higgins, who wrote interesting website articles on Malvern’s basketball team, is also the baseball team’s student manager. Great to see you, Mike! After the game, one of the Friars was raking the mound area and another player noted, “He’s the team gardener.” It was a play on word, folks! A check of the roster showed that No. 37, the rake man, is named Gardner Nutter. No wonder he’s the team GARDNER. Spent some time talking with Jim Gentile and Brian McDonough, whose sons play for Malvern. Jim played football for West Catholic and was later an assistant there and his brother, Rob, still holds the Burrs’ mark for game receiving yardage (181, in 1987). Brian, a doctor, is a prominent TV-radio expert on assorted health issues. I should have gotten his autograph (smile).
La Salle 10, Bonner 3
(Completion of Suspended Game)
May I talk off the record for a moment? (smile) Though reporters are not allowed to root for teams, most (all?) do hope for great story lines, so disappointment was my first reaction after THE play of Sungate, Part II occurred today. All of us were already back at Bonner anyway for a truly unusual event – the completion of a game suspended one day earlier because of the SUN – so why not wish for the full-blown route and something similarly crazy? La Salle scored EIGHT runs in its half of the 11th inning (more on that later) and one had to wonder if Bonner would go meekly? Not exactly. With one out, against sr. RH Mike Piscopo, who’d played third base through the first 10 innings, the Friars strung together four singles from sr. INF-P Frank Saviski, sr. P-1B-3B Ronnie Scull, sr. RF-RH Joe Haley and jr. C Dan Furman to make a one-run dent. Next, sr. 1B-RF Cole Trickel topped the ball in the plate area and began dashing for first. Piscopo pounced on the ball, which was maybe 15 feet from the plate and halfway between the first base line and pathway from the mound to home, and fired toward first. Guess what the ball did? It cracked against Trickel’s helmet! The Friars’ excitement was extremely short-lived, however. Replacement plate ump Dave Cohen, with no wishy-washiness, ruled Trickel had been running inside the base line and called him out, and ordered the other runners to return to their bases. Steve DeBarberie, son of Bonner coach Joe DeBarberie, charged in from the first base coach’s box and did an immediate snapout, earning an ejection. Once the hysteria dissipated, frosh 2B Rich Tecco tapped a comebacker. Piscopo gloved it and bull-rushed all the way over to first base. Just like that, the game was over. Imagine if Piscopo’s mistake had stood as a throwing error. Imagine how much momentum Bonner would have had. Would the Friars have tacked on more runs? Have come close to tying the game? Maybe, somehow, dropped a nine-spot to WIN it? Now THAT would have been a story. In the interview session, Piscopo (Northeastern) even acknowledged, “When something like that happens, it can cause a whole inning to fall apart. We caught a pretty big break. I was pretty happy when I heard (Cohen) make his call." Think about it: Not too many high school games go 11 innings. And when they do, how often do they end with seven-run victory margins? Imagine if 14, 15, 16, even SEVENTEEN runs had been scored in that one inning! This game would be getting a mention in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, etc. Oh, well. Nevertheless, the entire experience was cool and I’m thrilled to have been a witness. OK, now for La Salle’s 11th. Piscopo had singled yesterday before the delay/suspension. He strolled to first as things got started, then scored on two pitches. With a bat not even touching a ball. An errant pickoff from Furman got him to third, then he raced him on a wild pitch from Haley. From there: Sr. 2B Colin Pyne flied to right; sr. RF Tyler Kozeniewski singled to center; soph RH-3B Dom Cuoci doubled down the leftfield line, getting Kozeniewski to third; frosh LF Jimmy Herron fanned; sr. CF Ryan Otis sent an RBI single to center and took second on the throw; sr. SS P.J. Acierno reached on an infield bobble, with Otis going to third; a wild pitch advanced both runners; jr. 1B Chris Melillo drew a walk; sr. C Corey Baiada singled to center for an RBI; Piscopo milked a walk and Saviski replaced Haley; Pyne was plunked and earned an RBI; Kozeniewski smacked a two-run single to center; Cuoci grounded out, pitcher to first. Phew! What an outburst! Because he’d pitched the 10th, the win went to soph LH John Scheffey. Today’s action required 36 minutes and was witnessed by maybe 25 people. Coach Joe Parisi said he’d told his players to try to make the completion take less time than the ride to Bonner. When I mentioned the 36-minute thing, he said, “Wow. I’d bet that’s almost exactly how long it took to get here.” In all, the game required 3 hours, 8 minutes. Might have been the best 188 baseball minutes I ever spent. Thanks to all involved, including That Big Yellow Thing in the Sky.
10, BONNER 3
|Ryan Otis cf||6||1||1||1|
|P.J. Acierno 2b||6||2||1||0|
|Chris Melillo 1b||4||1||2||1|
|Corey Baiada c||5||1||1||1|
|Mike Piscopo 3b-p||5||2||1||0|
|Colin Pyne 2b||4||1||1||1|
|Tyler Kozeniewski rf||6||1||2||2|
|Dom Cuoci p-3b||5||1||2||1|
|John Scheffey p||1||0||0||0|
|Jim Herron lf||5||0||1||0|
|Paul-Mike Rementer lf||3||0||0||0|
|Jack Liberatore cf||5||1||2||0|
|Jim Haley ss||5||0||2||0|
|Frank Saviski 2b-3b-p||4||1||1||1|
|Ronnie Scull p-1b-3b||5||0||1||0|
|Joe Haley rf-p||4||1||2||0|
|Dan Furman c||5||0||1||1|
|Cole Trickel 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Vince Tomasetti ph||1||0||1||1|
|Dylan Drumm pr||0||0||0||0|
|Brian Dempsey 3b||1||0||0||0|
|Sean Ferry ph||1||0||0||0|
|Pat Vanderslice ph||1||0||0||0|
|Rich Tecco 2b||2||0||1||0|
|La Salle||0 0 1||1 0 0||0 0 0||0 8 -- 10|
|Monsignor Bonner||1 0 0||0 0 0||1 0 0||0 1 -- 3|
|E: P.J. Acierno, Brian Dempsey 2, Dan Furman, Jim Haley.|
|LOB: La Salle 10, Bonner 9.|
|2B: Chris Melillo, P.J. Acierno, Dom Cuoci.|
|SB: P.J. Acierno.|
|SF: Frank Saviski.|
|John Scheffey (W)||3||1||0||0||2||2|
|Joe Haley (L)||1 2/3||5||8||4||2||1|
|HBP: by Frank Saviski (Colin Pyne).|
|WP: Ronnie Scull, Joe Haley 2.|
|T: 3:08 (36 minutes for resumption).|
|U: Bruce Martin (plate Thursday), Dave Cohen (plate Friday), Frank O'Neill (bases both days).|
La Salle 2, Bonner 2 (Suspended in visiting 11th)
Let’s shed light on a cool tidbit immediately. La Salle sr. CF Ryan Otis (Bucknell) owns, by far, the best belch of the season. In the second inning, Ryan was standing near the on-deck circle and let one loose, at very high volume, that lasted a good six to eight seconds. (And yes, we do mean a belch, not the other thing – ha ha). Not sure what he had for lunch, but wickedly spicy tacos might be a correct guess. OutSTANDing effort!! . . . Meanwhile, I’m not even remotely a Beatles fan, but way back in the day they did have a hit entitled “Here Comes the Sun.” Today/tonight, that song could have been altered to “Here Comes Too Much of the Sun . . . At an Undesirable Angle, Too.” La Salle and Bonner will meet again at 2 o’clock Friday. Why? Because the sun first caused a delay (at 6:17) and eventually forced a suspension (at 6:54). Bonner’s relatively new field is laid out in butt-backwards fashion with the plate in the northeast corner of the school property. That means the sun is in center field and it causes a game-long issue. Early, the problem is mostly with glare coming off the windshields, etc., of cars parked beyond left-center. As the Big Yellow Thing moseys its way across the sky and, of course, begins dipping, it can create a BIG problem for hitters/catchers and, let’s face it, probably even the plate ump. As the visiting 11th began, sr. 3B Mike Piscopo (Northeastern) looped a single to center. By this time, as was relayed later, Bonner jr. C Dan Furman had already mentioned to plate ump Bruce Martin that he was having at least a partial problem. The next pitch, to sr. 2B Colin Pyne, was a fouled off bunt attempt. The foul ball was an accident and/or act of self-defense because Pyne was pretty much helpless. Time was called at 6:17 and six minutes later the coaches – La Salle’s Joe Parisi, Bonner’s Joe DeBarberie – reached a decision with Martin to wait maybe 10-15 minutes to see if the sun could somehow move over quickly enough (toward right-center) to allow for a resumption. As things turned out, the delay lasted 31 more minutes and all agreed to suspend the game and finish it Friday. (Neither school has classes. Thus the earlier than normal start time.) I once covered a basketball game with a sun delay, at Dobbins, and I’ll see if I can find that story in the database. It was a classic moment. So was this, of course, and you know I’ll be back at Bonner to see how things wind up. (And then MAYBE hit Haverford School at Malvern, depending upon the length of the resumption). The most legendary baseball suspension I can remember, at least in recent times, occurred in the Catholic League championship game in 2004 as Carroll bested Ryan, 7-3, over a two-day period. The game was played at La Salle University and Carroll’s Chris Cashman had a grand slam in Part I to erase a 3-1 deficit. VERY hard rain took over shortly thereafter. The Day Two resumption required just 12 minutes and Ryan Stewart had a bad-hop, two-run single. Today’s game was mostly a sweetheart. Very good pitching. Some clutch hitting. Quality defense, for the most part. Plus, the squads were lively and some of Bonner’s students were yelling, um, chippy comments from atop a wall in deep centerfield and it just made for a cool atmosphere. Some highlights: La Salle scored on RBI singles by jr. 1B Chris Melillo in the third and soph RH Dom Cuoci in the fourth . . . Melillo and sr. SS P.J. “Paul” Acierno absolutely smoked one double apiece and Melillo hit a liner to DEEP left – even WAY deep left – that would have been a homer at any/every field with a fence . . . Sr. C Corey Baiada picked one guy off first, gunned down another at second and made an easy-as-pie catch of a straight-up foul popup. Most high school catches butcher those in ungodly fashion . . . Piscopo hit a pair of rockets to left for frustrating outs . . . Sr. RF Tyler Kozeniewski also lined out twice . . . Cuoci allowed six hits and came within one out of a seven-inning win . . . Another soph, LH John Scheffey, worked three scoreless innings . . . For Bonner, sr. RH Ronnie Scull (also a football player, but he’ll opt for baseball at West Chester) bulldogged his way through nine innings and 117 pitches. Though he did give up some shots, caught and uncaught, he was stronger at the end of his stint; he finished with seven straight outs . . . Sr. RH Joe Haley, who used his long legs to make several plays look easy in RF, was on the mound for the 10th and 11th . . . The first inning run resulted from a single by sr. CF Jack Liberatore, a single by jr. SS Jim Haley (Joe’s bro), with both runners taking extra bases, and a sac fly to center by jr. 2B-3B Frank Saviski . . . With one away in the seventh, Joe Haley singled hard to right. Furman then grounded out, with Haley advancing, and jr. Vince Tomasetti was summoned from the bench to pinch-hit. The lefty swinger got a good hack at a first-pitch heater and, bang, sent a run-scoring single to center; the ball barely ticked Cuoci’s glove while zipping through the box. Meanwhile, there was a strange play in the visiting fifth. After Melillo bagged a ground-rule double on a ball that rolled up the hill in center, Baiada semi-offered at a two-strike pitch that bounced. The question was, had he actually SWUNG? The base ump signaled yes and the Friars began leaving the field. Ah, but Baiada was not out because the ball had bounced. He made it to first and then, after a slight delay, Parisi, stationed in the third base box, yelled to Melillo, now at second, “C’mon, Chris!” As in, “Run over here to third.” Melillo did try to bolt over there, but after quickly realizing the Friars were back in tuned-in mode, he tried to scramble back to second. Liberatore, by now in the infield, took the toss and tagged out Melillo. Parisi said later, “My fault. I had no idea where the ball was. I thought it was (loose) on the ground.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out too many of the exact comments being hollered by Bonner’s student fans. But in the seventh, when Scull received a mound visit, one of the kids bellowed, “Don’t take him out! He’s my friend!” Lots of cool guys on the Bonner/La Salle staffs. It was great to see them today. Let’s do it again tomorrow!
Prep Charter 10, Swenson 2
The coolest stuff about this visit to the fields at Conwell & Roosevelt Blvd. is handled in a special photo set, so we’ll concentrate on other things in this report. First, Swenson jr. LH Mike Amodei is my new favorite pitcher!! Why? Because he works VERY fast. Again and again it took just FOUR seconds for Amodei to deliver the ball after gloving return throws from sr. C Josh Durkin. Alas, Amodei got roughed up a little (six runs) and vacated the mound after just three innings. Meanwhile, PC jr. RHs Peter/Pete/Petey Piccoli (I forget to ask him which he prefers) and Frank Suppa were in full mow-'em-down mode. Piccoli, who began his high school career at Neumann-Goretti, whiffed 10 in 5.1 innings and all Suppa did was K all five guys he faced. What’s Suppa wit dat, baby!! Ha, ha. Piccoli had a cool moment in the very first inning after impressive frosh SS Brian Nieves laced a triple to center. He fanned the next three guys in quick order, thus achieving major starch depletion. For good measure, Piccoli also went the 3-K route in the second. DN ink went to sr. 3B Mike Borelli, who singled, lofted a sac fly and endured two HBPs in the No. 3 hole. A 4-year factor for the Huskies, he needs 20 hits for 100 and two days ago he recorded 10 strikeouts in a win over Northeast, thus raising his career total to 204. Borelli’s dad, also named Mike, was a first team coaches’ All-Pub outfielder for Southern in 1985. Meanwhile, Piccoli’s uncles, Chris and Al, were first-teamers for Engineering and Science in the mid to late ‘80s. The most productive Husky was soph 2B Justin Bocelli, who fanned in his first at-bat but then crunched a two-run double down the leftfield line and stroked an RBI single to right. Soph CF Chris “Chill” Ciliberto posted a run-scoring double in the seventh, but in school on Thursday, pretty much everyone will be talking about what happened to him after Swenson batted in the first. While running in from the field, Ciliberto approached the baseline area near PC’s bench and . . whoa, did a big-tumble right to the ground! His teammates were laughing like crazy, especially after realizing Chill had not been hurt. Soph RF Rob Freer scored three times after reaching base on an infield bobble, groundball single to right and a walk. PC’s leadoff man was frosh SS Keegan McCoskey, whose brother, Foster, recently played for GAMP. Nieves also tripled in the sixth and continued right home to the plate, due to a throwing error on the relay. He also made a neat stop of a sinking liner to his left. Eckert collected Swenson’s lone RBI on a looping single to left-center in the fifth. Coachingwise, this was the battle of Shawns – Swenson’s Williams vs. PC’s Magee. The latter is back in charge for the first time since 2006. The fields used by Swenson for baseball and softball are right next to each other and the left field line on the baseball field can’t be more than 15 yards from the right field line on the softball diamond. The gals were home today, too. The base ump for that tilt was Tommy McClain, who is likely the city’s most famous sports official. In this pic, he’s making a point to a Swenson infielder after a Kensington gal was called safe at second. Swenson’s softball boss is Pat Durkin, also the coach of the boys’ basketball squad. Williams, meanwhile, guides the hoopsterettes.
Penn Charter 8, Germantown Academy 3
Please don't be Cross with us, PC folks. A lack of Daily News ink could not be helped. Ninety minutes after this tilt ended came the championship game of the (basketball) Donofrio Classic, in not-too-far-away Conshohocken, and a little bit of space had been snapped up earlier in the day by GA jr. PG Nick Lindner, who has already made a commitment to Lafayette. End result: Website attention only. Ah, it could be worse (smile). This is the first year of a new era in PC baseball. And/or the last of the old era, depending on your viewpoint. Rick Mellor, who assumed the Quakers' reins in the 1979 season, is about to step aside and he's spending this campaign as the co-coach with Jon Cross. Rick, a top-shelf, three-main-sports athlete at PC (class of '69), said he stepped back completely during the offseason to allow Jon to start making HIS imprint on the program and even now he's going the low-key route. He doesn't wear a uniform and doesn't occupy a spot in the first base coach's box, though he does remain active in terms of supporting the players and making occasional suggestions about defensive alignment, etc. Meanwhile, this likely had to be the strangest day of Jon Cross' life. Not only is he a GA grad, but before spending the previous few seasons as an assistant at the University of Pennsylvania, he was the main-sidekick guy at GA and was responsible for finding/recruiting/nurturing many of the top players who soared to stardom. GA is in year No. 2 of using its beautiful new baseball stadium, so perhaps the shock was not as great as it would have been had the game been played on the old field. Anyway, onward we go to the game itself, folks . . . PC's pitcher was Duke-bound sr. RH Kenny Koplove, who is in year No. 27 of playing for the Quakers (smile). Kenny, the brother of former MLB pitcher Mike Koplove (CHA), showed his usual overhand gas while mixing in some pitches thrown out of a sidearm delivery. It wouldn't say he was dominant -- again, as mentioned in other reports, it's only mid-April despite the amazingly nice weather we've been experiencing, so guys are still working their way into form -- but he did force GA to strand six guys in scoring position while racking up 10 strikeouts. He also walked four and drilled two while allowing six hits. Sr. SS Dan Hoy (Princeton) reached him for a solo homer to dead left (it's 320 down the line) and a double to left-center. Both balls were crunched. Also, sr. DH Mike Fitzgerald scalded a double to right. GA's starter was frosh RH John Aiello. Sometimes, when a kid is good enough to assume such an important role as a ninth-grader, you wonder if he's successful only because he's a freak of nature (big, strong, already fully mature). Instead, the semi-tall Aiello is thin with lots of room for body growth, so it'll be interesting to watch the years march on. Koplove was also nowhere near his physical peak as a young buck, and still remains quite thin. PC had great success with small ball in the second inning. The inning opened as frosh RF Gabe Smith singled hard to center and soph DH Zach Kurtz milked a walk. Jr. LF Ted Foley moved them up with a sac and sr. CF Nick Lamb got Smith home by directing an other-way groundball to second. The Quakers, who are without injured sr. INF Demetrius "Meat" Jennings (Wofford), were at it again in the third. Koplove led off with a looping single to right-center, then soph C Jordan Della Valle did his job by inside-outing a groundball to first. Now in scoring position, Koplove had no trouble coming around as sr. 1B Tucker Colton smacked a single down the left field line and Kurtz followed two batters later by scalding an RBI double to right-center. PC posted five runs in a butt-ugly fourth as the Patriots committed a trio of infield errors. The only RBI went to Della Valle on a single to center. Sr. RH Michael Garbose (two innings) and jr. Matt Dale (one) blanked PC for the rest of the game. Garbose is the kid who last year was a true submariner. He now uses a sidearm delivery and PC's leadoff man, soph Steven Cohen, reached him for a ground-rule double while going 3-for-4 with a HBP. GA's new coach is alumnus/ex-standout Tyler Stampone ('05), who played briefly in the minors out of William & Mary. Unfortunately, he was probably the Patriots' best fielder today (smile). While stationed in the third base box, he snagged a semi-hot grounder while moving away from the field. He's still got it, folks! In the seventh, GA created a stir by loading the baes with one out. Sr. Ryan Dolan, the cleanup hitter, then tried to bunt for a hint, but sent a popup maybe halfway to third along the line. Koplove scrambled over and butchered the play. Ah, but he did so on purpose and the umpires froze the action, calling Dolan out and sending everyone else back to their original spots. An infield bobble brought in a run, then a fielder's choice ended it. One of Stampone's assistants is Joe O'Hara, former head man at ex-Pub power George Washington. It was great to see him!
Frankford 11, Washington 6
We saw some quality pitching today! Wait. I know what you’re thinking. If 17 runs were scored, how could anyone classify the pitching as quality? Good point. Notice the word “some,” however. If Frankford sr. RH Augusto “June” Ortega and Washington sr. RH Dean “Casa” Grande had started, maybe no one would have scored and the only winner would have been darkness. Ortega, who had a strong performance at bat and on the bases, took to the mound with runners on first and second and none away in the sixth. He immediately served up a doubleplay ball, then retired the Eagles’ most dangerous hitter, jr. RH-RF Jake Wright, on a hard hit ball to right. An error began the seventh, but two popouts and a strikeout ended it. Grande hurled the last three frames for Washington and allowed no hits. There were two walks and an error, but the backup C, frosh Chase Alexander, gunned down a would-be basestealer and soph 1B Scott Siley got another out for Grande with an excellent (lucky as hell?? – smile) pick of a hot grounder. Earlier, the game was largely sloppy and not exactly riveting. Plus, the plate ump didn’t arrive until 3:25, 10 minutes after the scheduled start time, and that had most folks salty. Ortega, the recipient of DN ink, was an impressive table-setter, going 3-for-5 with four stolen bases and three runs scored. He’s quick, fast and instinctive and it’s nice to see a true leadoff hitter because that has become something of a lost art. He also provided entertainment with some funny tidbits and that stuff’s in the DN story. Sr. 3B Brandon Gonzalez went 2-for-4 and his two-run double down the leftfield bold-reliefed the seven-run fourth. Sr. OF Rafael “Omar” Cruz had a bookend performance at the plate – Ks to start and finish with three BBs in between. Jr. C Eduardo “Cheese” Sanchez gunned down a try-to-thieve guy. Also, I VERY much liked the fact that Sanchez and Grande stationed themselves close to the plate (though Grande did incur a catcher’s interference call). Sr. LH-RF Hector Cerda turned in an uneven performance. Some errors didn’t help, admittedly, but he just didn’t display his usual sharpness. Wright experienced a similar fate. At bat, he rapped three balls quite hard, but had to settle for one double. (Once, when Wright came in to snag a popup, jr. 3B Aaron Goldberg crowed, “That’s Jake from State Farm.” Ha, ha. Jr. LF Corey Sharp went 2-for-4 with one RBI on a single. Jr. 2B Michael Honick, a lefty hitter, and Goldberg also had RBI singles. It was incredibly hot, especially for mid-April, and that likely contributed to the game’s lethargic ways. Washington is now being coached by Ken Geiser, All-Public catcher for the school’s 1979 squad. Ken is also Washington’s AD and might as well be the groundskeeper, too, because he has to do pretty much everything to keep the field looking nice. It was also great to see Margie Stinson, King’s former long-time AD and now an observer for Pub sports czar Robert Coleman. Along with some others, Margie checks out field conditions and squad sizes and then files reports . . . On another note, tonight I received a pair of emails from Dave Connolly, the Pub’s baseball chairman. He reported that two games, originally scheduled for tomorrow, will go into the books as forfeits because King and Mansion got into a fight after their game last Thursday. Also, University City’s win over Freire back on March 29 has now become a forfeit loss because UC used a pitcher who had not been afforded the required amount of rest after pitching a pitching a compete game (or close to it: Dave wasn’t sure) two days earlier.
Esperanza 13, Edison 3 (5 innings)
Twos were wild for Esperanza’s sr. LF, Ralphy Ramos. The second hitter did score three runs, but otherwise he went 2-for-2 with a two-base hit, two walks, two steals and two raspberries. Say what? He got those – one on each wrist – while diving for a long drive off the bat of sr. INF-RH Mario Rodriguez. The ball hit inches from the top of the leftfield embankment and Ramos landed on the hard surface just beyond the grass. Ouch! He trotted in to the infield area and Edison coach Matt Fischer fetched some Band-Aids so Esperanza coach John Grone could patch up Ramos. Ramos had another interesting moment. In the fourth, soph RH Yamil Morera walked the first three batters and Grone strode to the mound, and he even pointed to Ramos in left. Ralphy began heading for the mound and then had to apply the breaks. Reason: Morera said a couple of the right things and Grone let him continue to pitch. Morera escaped the frame with no runs scored thanks to two whiffs and a groundout. Guess what? In the fifth, Edison again loaded the bases with no outs thanks to singles by frosh SS-RH Michael Garcia (nice potential; he’s only 14) and sr. CF Joshua Fontanez and a walk to jr. C Frankie Gonzalez. Amazingly, Morera again recorded two strikeouts, but he then walked soph RF-3B Felipe Montalvo to force in a run before inducing a fielder’s choice to end it. Esperanza had two sets of brothers in its lineup. Soph CF Jeff Escolatico led off and had two RBI on a walk and sac fly. Sr. SS Raul Escolatico batted ninth and also had one RBI on a sac fly. Jr. 2B Aderly Perez hit cleanup and stroked a pair of RBI singles. Sr. Adelso Perez hit seventh and went 2-for-2 with a double and two walks. Soph 3B Jamuel Cruz, in the No. 3 spot, went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. As the fourth began, Montalvo was standing roughly even with third base and someone (maybe an outfielder) advised him to move a shade closer to the plate. He responded, “I’m close enough. I’ll catch the ball . . . hopefully.” You know what happened. A semi-hot grounder came his way and be bobbled it. Just his luck. A decent crowd was on hand and there was lots of chirping. Honestly, there was WAY too much cursing by some of the student spectators – they knew who they were – and some of the remarks were seriously off color. There was a funny one, though, and it was only mildly off color. After failing to reach far enough to stop a grounder up the middle, an Esperanza infielder let out a pretty loud “Uhhhh!” One of Edison’s female fans shouted, “That’s what SHE said!!” This game was scheduled for Lighthouse Field, nearby at Front and Erie, but had to be moved because a carnival was taking place there. Grone trekked to that field and took a very interesting pic with his cell phone. It’s posted now and is a true classic! Thanks, John . . . A couple of oddities: Even though it's building is only about two long homers from Edison, Esperanza took a bus to the game. In the fourth inning, with a 10-2 lead, the Toros played the infield up.
Franklin 7, Bracetti 5
From the entertainment standpoint, this one offered immediate satisfaction and remained in peak form throughout. While Franklin coach Dennis Sheedy was hitting infield-outfield, he sent a grounder to the right side. It was butchered and Sheedy barked (in lighthearted fashion) at the offending infielder, “You can catch the chicken pox, but you can’t catch the ball?!” Ha, ha, ha. Soon, I was learning about the presence of Franklin’s Sullivan brothers, who are both named Chris! (They attend Elverson Military and represent the Electrons via a cooperative sponsorship. The older one was a pretty good football player for Franklin and does a nice job at catcher; even has a much better arm than can usually be found on Pub catchers no matter the division.) During the game, Bracetti jr. SS Javier Surrillo, who has hair that goes roughly halfway down his back, was called for swinging at a pitch, even though he’d try to check. Coach John Westfield, stationed in the third base box, yelled in to the plate ump, asking him to seek help from the base ump. The plate ump said firmly, “He went.” Westfield shot back, “It was his ponytail that went!” Ha, ha, ha again. Then came the Truck Delivery Delay, as illustrated in this mini-photo set (oh baby) and that was followed by something not so cool. After an inning-ending play, Westfield expressed disagreement with the call and the ump finally said, “You can say anything you want. It’s not going to change things.” One of the Bulldogs, running back onto the field, heard the exchange and decided to say one word. He did so in Spanish and the word, in English, means . . . um, well, it starts with a “j” and ends with three letters that rhyme with “cough.” Does that pinpoint things for you? Obviously, the ump doesn’t know Spanish or there would have been an immediate ejection. DN ink (mostly) went to jr. RH Khalil Coles, who allowed just three hits and struck out 12 (though he also walked six and plunked three). He fanned the side in the first, in impressive fashion, and that got my head spinning, but he was largely up and down from there. More up, of course, but enough down to prevent the outing from being classified as fully special. He did cause Bracetti to leave five guys in scoring position, so that was a plus, and only one run against him was earned. The game’s best hit went to Franklin jr. CF Emmanuel Young (couple quotes), who laced a three-run homer to center in the second. He had to run it out and, boy, did he ever. Young is tall with long legs – almost gives off a Garry Maddox aura (Phillies CF from back in the day) – and he was flying around the bases. Franklin’s 3-4 hitters were the Davenport brothers, jr. SS Brandon and sr. 3B Bryan. Bryan, in particular, was brassy while showing nice leadership skills. Brandon had the pair’s only hit, however, sending an RBI single to center right after the truck departed. The ball always finds the spot the truck just left, right? (smile) Sr. 2B Pontell Wright and soph LF Ricky Alicea had RBI on sac flies and Coles got one on a misplayed grounder (run would have scored either way). Bracetti’s pitchers, soph RH Kelvin Sabastro and sr. RH Juan Roldan, had weird deliveries. Definitely sidewinders. Borderline submariners. Jr. 1B Jorge Quinones had no hits, but bagged one RBI on a groundout and another on a sac fly. Jr. C Anthony Vega went 2-for-2 with a walk and plunking and gunned down a would-be basestealer, as did Sullivan. Bracetti killed its chances with poor baserunning. In the sixth, two drill-jobs started the inning. Sullivan gunned down the first guy and Coles erased the second guy, who tried to steal third before the pitch, merely by stepping off the mound and firing to the bag. Rasalic Mackey, one of Franklin's BIG football linemen, is on the squad. He's raw with lots of potential and is looking at several JCs. I liked how he handled himself during our conversation -- maintained eye contact; expressed himself well -- and I wish him the best. Also had fun speaking with the older Chris Sullivan and jr. 1B Jose Santiago about the ins and outs of Elverson. Jose also has some size (nothing close to Rasalic, however, and said he plans to play football next fall.) One last thing to wrap it up. I didn’t see this until the very last instant, so I wasn’t able to get a pic. But as the Electrons gathered at the mound for their post-game talk, Sheedy reached into his pocket for a bunch of mints and tossed them into the air. There was a happy free-for-all as the guys tried to claim them. Good stuff.
Judge 16, SJ Prep 6 (6 innings)
We’re not even halfway through April, but suspicions are strong that this season’s far-and-away amazing moment has already been witnessed. Judge rallied from a 5-0 deficit. OK, cool, but not sensational. It scored 11 runs in the fourth inning. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. The first two guys in that frame made outs! Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!!! Now for something very weird. Just this week I received an e-mail from Greg Youngblood, who was the catcher for the 1983 Bishop Egan team that lost the CL final to O’Hara in devastating fashion. The Eagles led, 5-2, in the visiting seventh with two away, nobody on and an 0-2 count on the batter. They wound up losing, 10-6. Greg had stumbled on our list from the summer of 2008 of the 50 most memorable playoff games in city history (that one was No. 3), and he’d sent a comment for posting on that page. Is that karma, or what?! . . . OK, hold on. Here we go. Sr. RH Ryan Winton fanned sr. OF Paul Golden and induced a groundout from jr. RH-RF Zack “Spike” Spiker to start the inning. Sr. CF Corey "Cosmo" Kreamer, the leadoff man, managed an infield single. Sr. SS John Hearn singled hard to center and a bobble allowed both runners to advance. Sr. 3B Tim Ross was issued an intentional walk. Jr. RF-2B Mike O’Hanlon smacked a two-run single to left-center. Jr. RH Will Flood replaced Winton. Jr. DH John Reyes ripped an RBI single to left. Jr. C Ryan Mackiewicz smoked a two-run triple down the leftfield line. Jr. 1B-LH Chris Thompson and Golden drew walks. Spiker beat out a bunt single for an RBI. Kreamer dumped a two-run single into left. Hearn smacked a two-run triple to right-center. Jr. LH Pat Prieto replaced Flood. Ross sent a ringing triple down the leftfield line to bring in run No. 11 of the frame. Jr. Jeff Seigafuse, who’d been a pinch-runner for O’Hanlon, drew a walk. Reyes flied to right. Sixteen batters, 11 runs (all earned), nine hits (three triples), two LOB, one error. In the year 2062, maybe some of the guys who played in this game will still be talking about it (smile). Winton, who’s listed at only 5-9, 140, was throwing some serious gas in the beginning. Not sure why his day ended up so messy. He did walk three in a row with one out in the second; never a good idea. DN ink went to Ross, who went 3-for-3 with the triple, two walks and two RBI. His RBI single ended it with two away in the sixth. Tim’s dad, Marc, was a fireballer of much note for Washington and in ’78, before a good crowd at Veterans Stadium, he hurled the Eagles past Northeast for the Pub title. Tim said he gave up pitching after the sixth grade. O’Hanlon had a pair of two-run singles. Reyes went 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBI. Kreamer went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI. Hearn went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBI. The win was collected by Thompson, who throws lefty but bats righty. He’s a pretty big kid but today, at least, was mostly a soft-tosser. He had the Hawks off balance and allowed just one run (unearned) over his four innings. Two big hits gave the Prep its five runs. Sr. 1B Skyler Mornhinweg (yes, THAT Skyler Mornhinweg) poled a two-run homer in the first. Jr. LF Shane Williams added a three-run triple in the second. Had some fun talking to Prep sr. RH Ryan Judge. I asked him if his parents knew they giving him a two-Catholic-school name. He said they weren’t from Philly. I’m thinking, “OK. Maybe Sheboygan, Wisconsin?” He said his mom went to Archbishop Prendergast. OK, admittedly not IN Philly. But you’d think his mom had at least heard of Ryan and Judge, right? Anyway, masterful stroke of genius, parents. We love quirks. This one's a classic. We almost had the first-ever Team Photo injury today! While the Judge kids were lining up, one stood up as another was starting to kneel down. They banged heads pretty hard. Ouch! Imagine a visit to the disabled list for THAT reason. Judge coach Tim Ginter handled the pregame prayer duties from memory. Niiiice! Among the spectators was former Central star and Neumann coach Bob Santore. His nephew, jr. Frank Santore, played 2B for Prep and went 2-for-3 with a double. Soph CF Jawan McAllister, the Hawks’ leadoff batter, is the brother of Chestnut Hill Academy all-timer Jon McAllister, who is currently being honored as website legend Randy Seidman’s Hometown Philly Rookie of the Week. This game almost ended in the fifth. With one away, sr. PH-3B Mike Borsuk sent a fly to center. Kreamer made an excellent throw to the plate and came within a whisker of getting a DP. (Or maybe Santore was out by a whisker. Depended on your loyalties.) Sr. Sean Connolly, one of Prep’s basketball managers, started at 3B. Key postseason sub Tom Stewart, a sr., is also on the squad. A pregame visit was made to Judge’s new turf fields for baseball/football. Pics will be posted soon. The construction crew was making one last check. Ginter happened to be there, also, and he said city inspectors will have to provide a final OK since the fields are part of Ramp RC. He’s hopeful the Crusaders will get to play at least a few games on the field in May. I wonder if the Catholic League will think about using the site for playoff games? I imagine it would come dirt cheap. Oops, make that turf cheap.
Neumann-Goretti 5, Wood 2
Even the bench guys got dirty today. Home plate at N-G’s field, on the site of the former Neumann, is set in the northeast corner of the property and strong winds were blowing in that direction. Because this spring has been extra dry, the plate-area dust was swirling like crazy – and up along both baselines, of course – and by the end of the game everybody pretty much needed three bottles of eye-cleansing solution. With the termination of West Catholic’s program, Catholic Blue is down to six teams and that makes the scheduling a little crazy, so this was the league opener for both squads. A medium time was had by all. Not a classic, but some respectable moments. DN ink went to sr. LH Joey Gorman, our Pitcher of the Year in 2011 and last fall a recipient of a scholarship to Saint Joseph’s. Due to an elbow twinge experienced about two months ago, Gorman had taken things slowly through the first part of the season. He did no pitching in three non-league games and didn’t even play the outfield; served instead as a DH. Though not eye-poppingly impressive, he did carry a shutout into the seventh inning. Pitching coach Joe Messina reported that 66 of Joey’s 102 pitches were strikes and that his first toss was a strike to 19 of the first 22 batters he faced. Imagine how effective he’ll be once the midseason groove is attained. When jr. C John “Beef” Santospago lifted a fly to right to end the sixth, he became just the second Viking to get the ball out of the infield. To start the seventh, jr. RF Joe “Beer” Santospago (that’s not his nickname, but tell me it’s not a natural – smile) and jr. OF Benji Abercrombie milked walks. Sr. SS Tim Greenfield singled to right-center for one RBI and sr. DH Sean Sheridan lofted a sac fly to right to plate another run. Would the Vikings REALLY create some drama? Partially. They get to the tying run to the dish, but a strikeout ended it. Gorman allowed four hits, struck out eight (oddly, seven came against the top five guys in the order) and walked four (oddly again, twice there were two-in-a-row jobs). Batting leadoff, he got the first run home in the third with a groundout and sr. C Nicky Nardini followed that with a semi-hard single to right-center for an RBI. N-G’s three-run fourth went like this: leadoff double to left by sr. CF Jimmy Kerrigan, a Temple signee; lineout to right by sr. SS Marty Venafro; walk to jr. 2B Joey Glennon; double steal; chopper groundout by jr. 3B Joe Kinee with both runners holding; two-run single down the rightfield line by sr. LF Mario DiFebbo; RBI groundball single to center by sr. RF Anthony Adams. By the way, Kerrigan’s hit was a blast. N-G’s field is set into a city block and the ball short-hopped the fence far past the spot where Abercrombie was originally standing. Wood’s pitcher was jr. RH Scott Boches. Though thin, he appears to be about 6-4, maybe even 6-5, and he had some good moments in tough spots. He faced just 10 batters in his three non-scoring innings. Sr. RH Kevin Devine posted a 1-2-3 sixth. N-G’s new coach is Frankford grad Mike Zolk, whose son, Mike “Zoom” Zolk, formerly starred for N-G and is now at North Carolina. (The alleged crimes that caused the forced departure of ex-coach Lou Spadaccini have received major media attention. No need to rehash here.) Mike relayed a couple of funny stories before the game and one of them followed my mention that there appeared to be cotton candy remnants on the back windshield of his car, which was parked right behind the backstop. He said the stuff was Silly String and that it had been placed there by a freshman who plays for Wood! You see, Mike works at a baseball training facility and the kid, Nick Lafferty (not yet a varsity player), is a regular visitor. They were having fun, busting each other’s chops about which team would win this game, and Nick decided to “torture” Mike by Silly Stringing his car. Click here for a pic of the back windshield. We’ll assume that’s a North Carolina hat. Then again, “Zoom” did attend the late, great North Catholic before transferring to N-G. Wood is now being guided by Jim “Dege” DiGuiseppe Jr., who is succeeding his father, Jim Sr. You know where Sr. was today, right? Of course. Helping out as one of the assistants. So much for retirement. Ha, ha. Jr. is recovering from a minor health issue, so Sr. hit infield-outfield. “I haven’t done that in 15 years,” he claimed with a laugh. “In fact, I’m probably working harder now than I did before.” In the DN story, early focus was placed on the fact that Gorman, also a star student, is the vice president of N-G's student council and plans to dance AND sing at an upcoming school talent show. Could be legendary.
Central 4, Masterman 3
Given a choice, which would you prefer for baseball? A cold day with no wind or a semi-warm day with MUCHO wind? Well, we got the second today on Central’s elevated field and it was blowing all game long to right and/or center. Thankfully, it didn’t affect the contest much at all and that resulted, mostly, from the fact the pitchers were reasonably sharp; remember this is still considered early April. Masterman sr. RH Nate “Osmosis” Vahedi (the team’s female managers were calling him that; not sure why but they said it’s a new nickname) was impressive in the very beginning after Central managed to load the bases with one out on a single by sr. CF Mike Cavallaro (3-for-3, double, two runs scored), a plunking of sr. SS Gabe Buchanan and a walk to sr. C Julien Blancon. Vahedi humped it up and fanned the next two guys, though jr. RF Kyle Newcomb did notch at least four foul balls. Central soph RH Anthony DeVito had his best moment in the second after Masterman scored thrice on a single by sr. 1B Jack “Day After Easter” Christmas, a ringing triple to left-center by sr. SS Harry Taggart, an infield bobble off the bat of sr. OF Julian Melchiore and a wild pitch/TWO throwing errors combo that allowed Melchiore to come all the way around from first (ouch). DeVito, who showed a quality curve and splitter all afternoon, whiffed the next three guys to prevent further damage. Central tallied once in the third on Cavallaro’s ground-rule double into the rightfield corner (I was told the ball bounced up the concrete steps leading to the football field), a passed ball and a grounder to second by jr. 3B Tom Benek. Nice piece of hitting with a made-to-order, inside-out swing. The Lancers won it with a trio in the fifth. With one away, “Cavs” again was clutch. He ripped a single to center, then enjoyed seeing Buchanan (groundball single to left), Blancon (RBI single to right), Benek (yet another RBI on a groundout) and Newcomb (RBI double over the centerfielder's head) successfully perform their assorted tasks. My angle wasn’t good on this one because the ball was going directly away, but it’s possible Newcomb’s drive was slightly misjudged? Also, it appeared Melchiore stepped in a hole deep into his run. DeVito could become a gem. He has pretty good size already and once he fills out/matures, MPHs should be added to his fastball. He walked one (and that was intentional) while fanning nine. Sr. LF Ryan Dydak, of QBing fame, made the best defensive play with a sprawling, come-forward snag of a low liner off the bat of sr. OF Josh Godbolt. Also, the Lancers turned an interesting DP in the first as Vahedi fanned and sr. 3B Augie Legido (remember him? -- broke my camera last year with a foul ball – smile) was picked off first by Blancon and erased from there on a throw from sr. 1B Wesley Doe to soph 2B Andrew Foronda. As for tidbits . . . Before the game, we were preparing for Masterman’s team pic and jr. C Joey Powell was having a quick conversation with a gal who was heading into the locker room area in right-center. New coach Vic Otarola quipped, “Get her phone number later, Joey.” Powell shot back, “I already have it.” In the first, Melchiore allowed a ball to get past him for a two-base error. When he came to bat in the second, he heard Otarola yell into the cage, “C’mon, Julian, you owe me a run.” Between pitches, Melchiore smiled and responded, “They didn’t score, though.” True dat. Otarola, most recently the basketball coach at Vaux and once the baseball coach at now-defunct William Penn, was not exactly thrilled the umps prevented him from coaching at third base because he was not wearing a uniform. Assorted Blue Dragons handled the coaching duties at third and first; Otarola has no assistant. Meanwhile, as you probably know, Masterman is a Class A school with a very small enrollment. The team includes just 13 players (and there’s no JV). Guess how many kids tried out? You got it . . . 13!
--- A website break, resulting mostly from a DN furlough week, was taken between NE-Linc and Mstr-Cent. ---
Northeast 10, Lincoln 9
Remember the days when Northeast owned the Pub's premier program? And when Lincoln was also respectable? Both now find themselves in Division B and major progress must be made before either program can even dream of a return to glory status. Oh, well. What can you do? Times change. This game, like pretty much every game these days in the Pub, had sloppy moments and it required 2 hours, 33 minutes, but it featured some pretty neat plot twists and was still in doubt until the very last pitch, so that's pretty cool, right? The day's strangest element: Northeast jr. RH Daquan Bohannan, one of Northeast's 57 football quarterbacks (smile), started on the mound, but was not in the batting order. Later, after yielding to sr. Howard Lynn, of kicking-punting fame, and moving to SS, Bohannan took the DH's spot in the order and went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Huh? I decided to ask Bohannan, "Why weren't you in the lineup when the game began?" He shot back with a shrug, "I've got the same question." Later, coach Sam Feldman said Bohannan had missed some signs in recent games and "a message needed to be sent." We'll assume he got it (smile). There was also this oddity: In the fifth, soph SS-CF David Mora took a spot in the left side of the batter's box. I asked NE scorekeeper Samantha Horn about it and she said, "He's a switch-hitter." Ohhhhh k. But the pitcher was a righthander, just as he'd been for Mora's at-bats in the first and fifth. Maybe he's a world-class bunter only when hitting lefthanded? He got the sac down, then went back to righty in the sixth and smacked an RBI single. Oh, baby. Sr. RH Jairo Bautista held Northeast to one run through four innings, thanks mostly to an effective curve, but he hit the wall in the fifth and surrendered five runs as the Vikings forged a 6-6 tie. Jr. 3B Shahir Gates and Bohannan laced back-to-back RBI doubles to highlight that frame. Against Lynn, who'd replaced Bohannan with two away in the fourth, Lincoln answered with three runs of its own. Bautista had the big hit with a shot to center that was slightly misjudged for a two-run double. Courtesy runner Cody Ulmer, a freshman, later scored from second on an infield single by jr. LF-1B Dylan Burke (also two doubles, one RBI). Jr. RH Matt Dougan, who'd made several nice picks at 1B, pitched for Lincoln in the sixth. The four-run uprising went like this: Mora singled and stole second; soph 2B Devin Rodriguez singled hard to right-center for an RBI; Gates lined out to right; Bohannan ripped a run-scoring double to center; Lynn followed suit to left-center; and jr. C Manny Duran (4-for-4, all singles, two RBI) sent a groundball single to center to score soph CR Jake Mercado. Next, jr. RF Khalil Taylor was called out for stepping on the plate while trying to bunt. A quick throw to second followed and jr. CR Tyler Zink was erased. Have a problem with that? You should. Play should have stopped after Taylor's infraction. The umps conferred and got things right and Zink returned to second. He then was caught stealing. Walks to jr. PH Christian McGovern and soph DH-LF Eric Cintron enabled the Railsplitters to get the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the seventh. With two away, they even moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. But there they died as Lynn got sr. CF James Baldere (three walks) to wave at a pitch that might have been slightly outside. It's obvious that Lynn is this squad's far-and-away leader. When the Vikings came off the field, he gathered them and said, "Coming back from 5-0, that's family. We learned so much from this." Lincoln's roster includes soph RH-1B Tom Clarkson, whose brother, Ron, was our All-City Co-Pitcher of the Year for the Railsplitters in 2001. One member of that squad was in attendance today. Not positive because he didn't say his name, but I think it was Brian Smith. Lincoln's scorekeeper, Desiree Boyer, brings her own chair and table to games. VERY cool!
Overbrook 10, Olney 7
The theme for my first day on the 2012 baseball trail . . . Only in the Pub Personified! You name it, it happened. Well, almost.
No. 1 – Overbrook’s field, at Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park, had no base lines. As in none. As in not even a hint of any.
No. 2 – 'Brook has been playing at BP since at least the mid-'70s and probably much, much longer. Olney, now a charter school, has brand new coaches and they drove the 15-passenger van to Overbrook’s school site, at 59th and Lancaster. The Trojans finally arrived at 3:49 and the game started 50 minutes late at 4:05.
No. 3 – A School District bus arrived in the top of the second inning, with the driver undoubtedly thinking he’d soon be taking the Panthers back to 'Brook. Somebody must have told him what had happened. Dude vanished and as I left the field a shade before 7 p.m., ‘Brook coach Phil Beauchemin was on his cell phone, trying to nail down exactly what would happen.
No. 4 – After tripling for one RBI, then homering for two, jr. 2B-C David Dorsey came to bat in the third inning with two outs and a runner on third. He tried to bunt for a hit. Frosh C Jean Carlos Leger pounced on the ball and tagged out the runner not too far from the plate.
No. 5 – Olney had THREE runners picked off first by jr. LH Yvon "Buddy" Dessus, who began this school year as Bok’s starting QB, then transferred to 'Brook and wound up seeing time there.
No. 6 – In the home fourth, the plate ump began limping around and I thought maybe he’d been hit by a foul ball. He left the game and base ump Jim Scott wound up calling the pitches from behind the mound. The plate guy said he’d been experiencing leg cramps, probably because he’d pushed things too hard in a morning workout. He limped to his car and went home.
No. 7 – In the sixth, Olney jr. 1B Franklin Estevez was rejoicing after reaching first base on an infield throwing error. One problem: He was standing maybe 2 feet from the bag and Dessus tagged him out.
No. 8 – In the seventh, with the game ONE pitch from maybe ending, Beauchemin yelled to Scott that Leger was standing too far behind the plate and was forcing Overbrook’s catcher, Dorsey, “almost to the back of the cage.” Scott called time, walked in, grabbed Leger’s bat and drew a line that would serve as the back end of the batter’s box. Leger walked on the next pitch, extending the game. A strikeout then ended it.
No. 9 – (Not baseball related, but just a continuation of wacky developments). I drove to a nearby Checker’s and ordered a burger and fries with a soda. The bag felt kind of heavy when it came through the drive-thru window. No wonder. Inside were two double chicken sandwiches. As if I’d ever eat chicken. Ha, ha. I drove back around to the window and handed the guy the chicken sandwiches. He gave me a bag with the burger.
No. 10 (see intro for No. 9) – While preparing to write the DN story in the office, I came to realize I’d left my reading glasses in the car. Had to trudge back out to the parking lot. Ugh!
. . . So, how was YOUR afternoon into the early evening? (smile). DN ink went to sr. C-P Shafeeq Coleman, who goes 6-5, 280 and professes a love for baseball. He’s a personable kid and had some pretty funny stories, which are in the DN writeup. He has an offer from a JC in Maryland and Beauchemin is trying to drum up more interest because he thinks the world of Shafeeq as a player and person. Coleman projects as a first baseman, but he throws pretty hard (not outrageously, mind you) and with the proper guidance he might be able to do something in this sport. He got a shade overanxious at bat in the game, but put on a show in batting practice. Coleman replaced Dessus for the final 2.1 innings and recorded six outs on whiffs. Alas, he also walked seven and made a costly throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Dessus fanned eight in his starting stint and showed good late movement on his pitches. 'Brook received great production from deep in the lineup. Soph 3B-2B Nasir Collins, hitting seventh, scored twice after doubling, then tripling. Sr. RF Markee Scott sent a medium single to center for two runs and a hopper to right for another. Somehow, the 4-5-6 hitters combined to whiff nine times in 12 at-bats. Soph SS Brandon Hines, the leadoff batter, got an RBI on a bad-hop double to center. Leger had two of Olney’s five hits, a single down the leftfield lack-of-a-line and a triple in the same vicinity. He also milked three walks. Sr. SS Eduardo Herrera bagged one RBI on a groundout and another on a walk. Olney's reliever, jr. RH Eric Hernandez, was impressive. He goes about 6-1 and throws reasonably hard. He also mixed in respectable curves, even in unexpected counts. He whiffed 10 in six innings and just one of the three hits he surrendered was well struck. Several funny remarks made it into the story. Here’s one that didn’t. When he thought he was getting pinched by the original plate ump, Dessus muttered, “This umpire’s killin’ me, dog. For real.” One of the spectators, for a while anyway, was Boys’ Latin coach Joe Dunn. His team played elsewhere and he just happened to drive past while heading home. Seeing how late it was, he thought he would witness a nail-biting classic that was maybe in the 21st inning. Not quite, folks. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see what day No. 2 on the 2012 trail will bring . . .