By: John Knebels
Photos & Videos: Liam Turnbach (La Salle), Alex Duda (Father Judge) & John Knebels
PHILADELPHIA – For the returning Archbishop Carroll players who participated in last year’s Catholic League championship loss to La Salle, this was viewed as a “must win” game even though it was only the league opener.
Despite having occurred 10 months ago, the 10-0 loss to the Explorers still stung. While the one-sided defeat will forever remain a scar, the Patriots’ 3-1 victory over La Salle on April 1 definitely helped assuage the gnawing aggravation.
“It was huge for us,” said Carroll senior Tyler Kehoe. “We had that date circled on our calendars all offseason.”
Carroll scored twice in the third and once in the fifth, but it was the pitching of senior starter Alex Cornell and reliever Kehoe that sealed the deal. The duo was throwing to backup catcher Zach Sterns, a freshman who made the most of his first career league start with a key advancement of a runner on offense and a pivotal assist on an out at third base.
It was the type of victory the Patriots needed to serve notice that they are once again a team to be reckoned with. Two days later, the Patriots doubled Lansdale Catholic, 6-3.
“Beating La Salle meant so much,” said Cornell, who missed a complete game by two outs. “We wanted to send a message, and I think we did that.”
While a terrific diving catch by senior infielder Sean Lawley in the seventh helped anchor the defense, the Patriots’ offense forged a lead in the third on RBI singles by junior Max Hitman and senior Jack Tulskie. Junior Jason Lafantano’s sacrifice fly two frames later plated the insurance run.
“It felt great to start off the year with a win over La Salle,” said Hitman, “especially after what happened last year.”
Added Kehoe: “It’s a long season and we celebrated that victory, but we’re trying to celebrate something bigger than just one win against La Salle. This was just the beginning.”
La Salle nearly lost again on April 3. The Explorers fell behind host Roman Catholic, 4-0, but three runs in the second, third, and fourth innings engineered a 9-6 triumph. Junior Colin McVeigh was the winning pitcher. La Salle junior Owen Lawn and Roman junior Gaeton Grandelli both slugged home runs.
Devon Prep joined the Catholic League this season, and its lopsided defeat at Cardinal O’Hara was a rude awakening and, unfortunately, no April Fool’s joke. The Tide, however, rebounded two days later by defeating visiting Bishop McDevitt, 7-5, for their first-ever Catholic League victory.
“It felt great to get our first PCL win,” said Devon Prep coach Bobby Harper. “We still have a lot to work on, but we have a great group of kids that want to do the work. They are invested in what we are trying to do, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
After falling behind, 5-0, Devon sophomore Eamonn Walsh got on base three times with a walk and two hits, including a huge two-run triple that tied the game. Sophomore Bere Bauers tossed three shutout innings, striking out four to end the game.
“I’m really excited to see how much they can grow between now and the end of the season,” said Harper.
Before the O’Hara contest, Devon seniors Aaron Nuble, Andrew Czachor, and Patrick Coleman spoke about the palpable buzz surrounding the Tide’s new journey.
Nuble pointed out that there is now “more competition and exposure for us; I felt that our school needed that.” Czachor labeled the situation “a challenge, but a good challenge . . . it’s a really good opportunity to play better teams and be in more competitive games and eventually grow the school as a whole.”
According to Coleman, the Devon players “all want to be a part of the PCL and we’re just excited to play these teams.”
“Building a legacy here is the main objective,” said Nuble. “Being the first senior class to play in the PCL is just amazing.”
Archbishop Wood is in an early five-way tie for first place along with Archbishop Carroll, Bonner-Prendergast, Cardinal O’Hara, and Neumann-Goretti.
The Vikings rode the strong pitching of senior Jack Colyar in their 7-1 win at Archbishop Ryan. In their 8-4 victory over St. Joseph’s Prep, the Vikings broke open a 4-4 regulation deadlock with four runs in the visiting eighth, highlighted by sophomore Luke Cantwell’s two-out, two-run single and a key stroke by senior Bob Hennessey that made a winner out of junior relief pitcher Dave Linsalata (5 and 1/3 innings).
“It’s important to be 2-0 because we feel like we have put together two solid wins to start off our schedule,” said Wood senior Sam Reynolds. “Anytime you can get a sweep of the week for the Catholic League, it’s always big. We hope we can build on this big first week.”
In Father Judge’s 11-0 win over visiting Lansdale Catholic, junior Lenny Gipson dominated on the mound while senior Andrew Sicinski went 3 for 3 and slammed a home run, as did junior teammate Ethan Martini.
“It was great getting off to a great start,” said Sicinski. “That’s what we needed to do. We all played very good.”
Standings through April 7:
2-0 Archbishop Wood
2-0 Cardinal O’Hara
2-0 Archbishop Carroll
1-1 Devon Prep
1-1 Father Judge
1-1 Roman Catholic
1-1 La Salle
0-2 St. Joseph’s Prep
0-2 Bishop McDevitt
0-2 Archbishop Ryan
0-2 Lansdale Catholic
April 8 Schedule:
Devon Prep at Conwell-Egan
Roman Catholic at Neumann-Goretti
Bonner-Prendergast at Archbishop Carroll
Bishop McDevitt at Archbishop Ryan
La Salle at Lansdale Catholic
Cardinal O’Hara at St. Joseph’s Prep
Archbishop Wood at Father Judge
Tag(s): Home Schools Philadelphia Catholic Baseball Philadelphia Catholic League Arch. Carroll Baseball Arch. Ryan Baseball Arch. Wood Baseball Bishop McDevitt Baseball Bonner & Prendie Baseball Cardinal O'Hara Baseball Conwell-Egan Baseball Father Judge Baseball La Salle Baseball Lansdale Cath. Baseball Roman Catholic Baseball Saint Joseph's Prep Baseball Neumann/Goretti Baseball West Catholic Baseball