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BASEBALL: St. Joseph’s Prep Leaps into the 6-Seed After 5-1 Victory Against Roman Catholic

By CJ Weipz Photos: Zack Beavers, 05/06/24, 2:30PM EDT


Photos: Zack Beavers

By: CJ Weipz

TRENTON, NJ – St. Joseph’s Prep (6-4) defeated Roman Catholic (2-8) 5-1 as the squads traveled into the Garden State to play at Arm and Hammer Park on Friday night.

Mihretu Rupertus took the bump for the Hawks where he collected the win. The sophomore went for 5 innings and struck out 8 batters while only giving up one earned run.

“I like being in the big spots, I feel that it gives me a lot of motivation,” Rupertus said.

Roman Catholic sent out Santino Harwood, who was able to settle in quickly. The Delaware State commit only allowed one hit and one run through the first 3 innings, striking out a trio of Hawks in the process.

“I thought the fastball was working a lot,” Harwood said after the game. “I had a lot of confidence throughout the early innings.”

Post game interview with St. Joseph's Prep pitcher Mihretu Rupertus - PSD Video by CJ Weipz

After a quiet first inning that featured Rupertus striking out the side and Harwood setting the Prep down in order, the Hawks got to work.

Enrico Tufano singled up the middle in the top of the second and came around to score on a throwing error by Peter Crespo, giving the Hawks an early lead. Rupertus worked out of a jam in the bottom of the inning, leaving a pair of runners stranded.

The Cahillites would eventually get themselves on the board after a 3-hit third inning led by Joseph McKillip. The 9-hole hitter led off the Roman half of the inning with a single as Myles McNiff drove him in two batters later.

While the game stayed close throughout the early stages, the floodgates opened after a monster fifth inning from the Hawks.

Chris Steinmetz reached on a fielder’s choice, taking second on a passed ball, and rounded the bases on an RBI double from Lehigh-commit Robbie Grasso. The junior stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Will McCoach.

Harwood was pulled after 4.2 innings of work which included 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, and only 3 out of the 5 runs attributed to him.  

Hawk’s coach Anthony Valucci cited the team’s communication and grit as the reason for their offensive explosion.

“They just keep grinding and they talk, talk about what the guy is throwing and what they’re seeing, and they just battle every time they get in that box,” Valucci said.

The action would die down from there, as both teams combined for no hits in the last two innings of play. Kieran Lodewick came in for a 2-inning save in relief, striking out 4 Cahillites on the way. 

Although the play on the field was on everyone’s mind, all parties involved noted the incredible experience of playing at Arm and Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder.

“It’s a beautiful field,” Harwood said. “I love the whole stadium.”

“It’s a really nice field here,” Rupertus said. “It’s a little taste of what I want in the future.”

With the win, St. Joseph’s Prep jumps Archbishop Wood for the 6th seed in the PCL standings as the loss eliminates Roman Catholic from the playoff race.

The Hawks will close out their PCL schedule by hosting Bonner-Prendergast on May 6 and traveling up I-76 to take on Devon Prep on May 8. Roman Catholic will finish up their season with back-to-back away games at Father Judge on May 6 and at Bonner-Prendergast on May 7.