By: John Knebels
Photos/Videos: Patty Morgan, Kathy Leister, Dan McCarty & Liam Turnbach
PHILADELPHIA – It’s all about the pitching.
Coaches preach that adage at every level of baseball. Teams may boast a potent offense, but if their opponent on the hill throws the ball where it can’t be hit and it’s close enough to the strike zone, they usually end up on the wrong side of the ledger.
Last week in the Catholic League, outstanding pitching was heavily in the spotlight. Nowhere was it more illuminated than at Lansdale Catholic on April 29. That’s where St. Joseph’s Prep freshman Ryan Mullock orchestrated a complete game no-hitter, striking out nine and walking two in the 1-0 victory. It was Mullock’s second varsity start and first in the Catholic League.
“During warm-ups, I kind of knew I was going to be able to throw a good amount of pitches,” said Mullock. “I started pretty wild, but as the game went on, I began to feel better and better.”
Problem was, the Prep was struggling to solve Lansdale Catholic, too. Finally in the fifth, Prep junior Destin Pagan walked, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Owen Evert.
Now armed with a lead, Mullock could relax a bit more. But it wasn’t until the seventh that he realized he still had not given up a hit, thanks mostly, he said, to the defense of sophomore shortstop Jimmy King and junior catcher Mick Pesot.
“Before the bottom of the last inning, my coach (Anthony Valucci) asked me how I felt, and asked if I could throw fewer than 10 pitches that inning because of the (100) pitch limit,” said Mullock. “So I knew what I had to do.”
On the first pitch of the riveting seventh, the leadoff batter bunted back to Mullock for the first out. King then made a nice play on a grounder to record the second out. With his teammates going wild in the dugout, Mullock struck out the last batter on a two-seam fastball and became the first Hawk to toss a seven-inning no-hitter since Tom Mullin blanked Father Judge, 7-0, in 2013.
Getting that first out on one pitch proved immense.
“I felt really good at that point,” said Mullock. “Through all of this, I felt a real focus, and there was nothing else going on around me that mattered, except for these next two batters.
“More than the no-hitter, I really wanted to hold this 1-0 lead for the win. All of the upperclassmen were pulling for me, and I could tell that the team wanted this for me. After the last out, our entire team went berserk. I was so pumped.”
The win also solidified the Prep’s chances of reaching the playoffs. With three games remaining, the 4-6 Hawks’ magic number is two. On their heels are Conwell-Egan and Devon Prep, both 2-8.
Mullock’s no-hitter was also special for his teammates – both on and off the field.
“Playing the game behind Ryan in the field was awesome,” said junior second baseman Emanuel Chuckran. “We didn’t have our bats working the way we wanted to, so to play in the field behind Ryan throwing a no-hitter was pretty crazy.
“It wasn’t until the seventh inning that I realized he had a no-hitter, and to see him strike out the last batter was a pure feeling of joy for him. Throwing a no-hitter is a huge milestone, and it’s awesome to see him do it as a freshman because he still has so much room to grow.”
Prep senior Joe Richardson, who watched from the dugout, agreed.
“Being able to support my teammate for such an achievement was really exciting, especially something as rare as this,” said Richardson. “Even though I won’t be at Prep next year, it’ll be great to see him grow a young man and baseball player, and he has a great future ahead of him.”
The other games around the league on April 29 and May 1 followed the same theme. On April 29, the seven winning teams threw four shutouts and allowed a miserly five composite runs. Two days later, the seven victorious squads surrendered a composite six runs. So, in 14 games, the winning teams surrendered a grand total of 11 runs and an earned-run average of 0.79.
Following the momentum of the aforementioned frosh Mullock, a pair of freshmen led Archbishop Carroll past host St. Joseph’s Prep, 4-0, improving to 6-4. Kevin Heinrich (four innings) and Roman Tozzi (three) combined to allow a miserly two hits and strike out 10.
“My curveball was very effective and had them off balanced the entire game,” said Heinrich. “For the most part, I tried to blow a first-pitch fastball by them for a strike and mixed it up from there.”
Tozzi worked around two walks and a walk to register the save.
“My fastball was on and I was able to locate it inside and out and mixed in my curveball, which had a nice break to it,” said Tozzi. “I had a lot of confidence with my great defense behind me, and it was good to get back on track with a ‘W.’”
Archbishop Carroll freshman pitcher Roman Tozzi - PSD photo by Dan McCarty
In La Salle’s 1-0 win over visiting Father Judge, Gavin Moretski came within one out of a complete-game shutout. After allowing only three hits and striking out seven, the senior reached the 100-pitch limit and gave way to senior David Kratz for the pivotal final out.
Senior Owen Lawn’s RBI in the fifth was just enough for the Explorers to improve to a league-best 9-1; one game behind is the second-place trio of Roman Catholic, Father Judge, and Cardinal O’Hara.
“I thought I had good command most of the game, even though I had some runners in scoring position,” said Moretski. “I was trying to just throw strikes and let my defense play behind me. My changeup and curveball were working most of the game, which hasn’t been the case all year, so I had good confidence against their lineup.”
La Salle senior pitcher Gavin Moretski - Photo by LSCHS Jr. Reporter Liam Turnbach
Archbishop Ryan’s 3-1, eight-inning win at Lansdale Catholic included senior Anthony Giordano throwing six strong innings of three-hit, one-run ball, followed by senior Adam Estrada’s two perfect innings. Estrada had blanked Bonner-Prendergast, 1-0, only 48 hours earlier.
The two wins strengthened the 4-6 Raiders’ playoff pursuit.
“I felt great,” said Giordano. “I had every pitch working and great command of my fastball, and that’s the majority of what I threw. I pitched to contact and really made them hit the ball for outs.
“I really believe one of the most important things was that my first-pitch strikes and getting ahead in the count.”
Roman Catholic junior Alex Singer threw five innings and junior Jason Kelly mopped up with two more in the Cahilites’ 5-1 win over visiting Cardinal O’Hara in a marquee match-up between two of the league’s elite.
“Our coach (Bobby Hill) always says that our next game is the biggest game of the year, and this game definitely was,” said Singer. “The first inning really set the tone for me as it gave me confidence because all three outs I recorded were on strikeouts – my only strikeouts of the game. The bottom of the first and top of the second were pretty crazy as the umpire missed an obvious call for us, which fired us all up, and then an O’Hara player got ejected for running over our first baseman, which fired us up even more.
Roman Catholic vs. Bonner-Prendergast photos by Kathy Leister
“I always hate coming out of games, but I was at 92 pitches, and with Jason Kelly coming in behind me to close out the last two innings like he always does, I was pretty confident. It was a great win.”
In Bonner-Prendergast’s 5-2 win over visiting Devon Prep, senior Erik Lachette pitched six one-hit innings and senior Steve DiBattista earned the save.
“My change up was working pretty good,” said Lachette. “I felt confident I could get the job done.”
Conwell-Egan upended host Bishop McDevitt, 7-1, as sophomore Frank Spaide took a no-hitter into the fifth. Freshman Shawn Hessington nailed down the save. Senior Chris Furey and freshman Mark Gorman both knocked in two runs.
“Everything was really working,” said Spaide. “Fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. Everything worked perfectly, which I think caused me to have a game like that.”
Archbishop Wood junior Dave Linsalata befuddled Neumann-Goretti in a 3-1 triumph. The Vikings scored their three runs in the third.
Win of the Week goes to Devon Prep. On April 29, the visiting Tide stunned Archbishop Wood, 4-3, for their second-ever win in the Catholic League and first against a team with a winning record.
Devon Prep came away with a huge 4-3 road victory vs. Archbishop Wood - PSD Photo by John Knebels
In the fifth inning, senior Andrew Czachor blasted a two-run homer and senior Matt Romano later followed with an RBI single.
A combined pitching effort by junior Matt Masayko (winner), sophomore Tommy Kent (save), sophomore Bere Bauers, and senior Tommy Cunningham kept the hard-hitting Vikings at bay.
“The season so far has been a huge success despite our record,” said Czachor, recently returned from an injury. “I don’t believe that a record is the only defining measure of success. Winning is a fun part of baseball, but just because we aren’t winning does not mean we aren’t doing the right things.
“Most teams in the PCL are physically bigger than us, but that’s about it. All the kids on the team are so dedicated to doing everything right, and if we keep adding little pieces here and there, we should be in a good spot at the end of the season.
“I don’t think anyone watching expected Devon to win, but they don’t know how hard everyone has been working and the chemistry we have. Physically, we don’t intimidate teams, but when we play our game, I am confident we can beat any team.”
(Contact john Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)
Standings as of Monday, May 6, 2019
La Salle 9-1
Archbishop Wood 8-2
Cardinal O’Hara 8-2
Roman Catholic 8-2
Father Judge 7-3
Archbishop Carroll 6-4
Archbishop Ryan 4-6
St. Joe’s Prep 4-6
Devon Prep 2-8
Lansdale Catholic 1-9
Bishop McDevitt 0-10
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