Northeast Times

Refining the rally

The Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic League ral­lies from be­hind for its first two wins of the Car­penter Cup.

It’s not over un­til it’s over. 

That’s a les­son the Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic League has em­braced throughout this year’s Car­penter Cup Clas­sic. 

The re­si­li­ent Cath­ol­ic League squad — com­posed of the league’s top play­ers rep­res­ent­ing Arch­bish­op Ry­an, Fath­er Judge, LaS­alle and Saint Joseph Prep, among oth­ers — re­tali­ated in the most dra­mat­ic fash­ion to claim vic­tory over Delaware County in the first round of the pres­ti­gi­ous tour­ney. 

It was a three-run homer off the bat of LaS­alle ju­ni­or third base­man Colin Pyne in the bot­tom of the ninth with two outs that lif­ted the Cath­ol­ic League, 5-4, at Rich­ie Ash­burn Field on June 15. 

Then, three days later, the Cath­ol­ic League once again ral­lied in the ninth in­ning of the quarterfi­nals, this time even­tu­ally down­ing Chester County, 9-8, in 11 in­nings. 

Let’s start at the be­gin­ning. 

The Cath­ol­ic League pos­ted its first run of the Car­penter Cup Clas­sic in the bot­tom of the third in­ning on June 15. Monsignor Bon­nor’s Jim Murphy smoked a rock­et down the first base line for a triple, then scored when Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Eric Frain groun­ded out for an RBI. 

“It felt really good to get that first run in there,” said Frain, a seni­or shortstop. “Today has been crazy. We felt strong com­ing in here and I think we played really well.”

The Cath­ol­ic League knocked in an­oth­er one in the fourth. LaS­alle seni­or Joe For­cel­lini led off the in­ning with a walk, then ad­vanced to second on a passed ball, then third on Mike Zolk’s (Neu­mann-Gor­etti) ground out. LaS­alle’s Corey Bai­ada popped out for an RBI. 

Delaware County answered back quickly. Dalton May­berry smacked a triple to start the fifth in­ning, fol­lowed by a ground out RBI cour­tesy of John Brogan. One in­ning later, Matt Peters tied things up with an in-the-park homer­un.

Des­pite load­ing the bases, Delaware County was un­able to score a run, res­ult­ing in a sco­re­less sev­enth. 

In the eighth, things star­ted to go down­hill for the Cath­ol­ic League. Arch­bish­op Ry­an’s Kev­in Mack walked Delaware County’s Justin Pyle, then two bat­ters later, al­lowed a two-run out-of-the-park homer from Sean Mo­hol­len. 

Fast for­ward to the bot­tom of the ninth. Delaware County still leads 4-2. Bai­ada pops up for the first out, bring­ing Shane Wil­li­ams to the plate. He smacks a single. Next up: Neu­mann-Gor­etti’s Jimmy Ker­rigan.

An­oth­er single.

Marty Ven­a­fro (Neu­mann-Gor­etti) pops out to right field. 

Delaware County switched pitch­ers — ac­cord­ing to Car­penter Cup rules, pitch­ers are lim­ited to three full in­nings — and as a res­ult, Nick Kruzi­enski took the mound. His first pitch went wild, al­low­ing Wil­li­ams and Ker­rigan to ad­vance. 

And so the stage was set — bot­tom of the ninth, run­ners at second and third, two outs — as Colin Pyne stood in the bat­ters box. On the 2-0 pitch, he nailed a shot to left field that went through the legs of Delaware County’s left field­er, Drew Giampi­etro, and al­lowed Pyne to round the bases all the way home. 

Fi­nal score: Cath­ol­ic League 5, Delaware County, 4. 

“My heart is rush­ing! That was ex­hil­ar­at­ing,” said an ec­stat­ic Pyne after the win. “I was try­ing to hit the ball hard and find a gap in the op­pos­ite field. When I was round­ing first base I saw the ball go through his legs, and I just kept run­ning. 

“This is un­real! It took me like five minutes to real­ize it was real,” he ad­ded. “Then it hit me like five minutes later. It’s a great feel­ing in­side.”

The 25 play­ers rep­res­ent­ing this year’s Cath­ol­ic League, along with nine coaches, swarmed home plate as Pyne ar­rived. With the win, the Cath­ol­ic League ad­vanced to the Car­penter Cup quarterfi­nals. 

“I feel good, real good. That was fun,” laughed the Cath­ol­ic League’s head coach Lou Spa­da­cini, also boss of Neu­mann-Gor­etti’s base­ball squad. “I told the guys, this is the toughest three outs in base­ball. Just keep bat­tling. And they did. We didn’t put con­sec­ut­ive hits to­geth­er un­til the ninth in­ning. I didn’t ex­pect it to hap­pen quite like it did, but I’ll take it!”

On Sat­urday, the Cath­ol­ic League did it again — this time oust­ing Chester County in the quarterfi­nals. After six full in­nings, the Cath­ol­ic League trailed 8-2. Their bats got hot in the sev­enth, scor­ing four runs. In the bot­tom of the ninth with two outs, they tacked on two more runs, ty­ing the game and for­cing ex­tra in­nings. 

By the 11th in­ning, the Cath­ol­ic League had the win­ning run 90 feet away — Corey Bai­ada reached first on a badly played ground­er. LaS­alle seni­or Joe For­cel­lini bunted him to second and Shane Wil­li­ams hit a single, al­low­ing him to ad­vance to third. 

Once again, the stage was set for an­oth­er thrill­ing vic­tory. This time, the hero was Ker­rigan, who nailed a single to right field for the game-win­ning hit. 

The Cath­ol­ic League’s hero­ics landed them in the coveted Car­penter Cup semi­finals, played at Cit­izen’s Bank Park on Monday af­ter­noon against foes Bur­l­ing­ton County. Un­for­tu­nately, that’s where their fairy tale run came to a close. The Cath­ol­ic League lost, 5-1, bring­ing the loc­al base­ball sea­son to a close. 

“The Car­penter Cup was a great ex­per­i­ence. I love be­ing able to rep­res­ent my school. It’s ex­cit­ing,” said Frain. “It’s a good time. I like play­ing with guys from all the dif­fer­ent teams. We have a fun time to­geth­er, play­ing and jok­ing around. We all love the game.” ••

Sports ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­erkov@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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