Baseball – RBC Flexes Muscle in Eight-Run Third, Wins 12th Straight to Advance to MCT Final
RED BANK - Red Bank Catholic head baseball coach Buddy Hausmann believes one of the reasons his team has lost only one game this season and entered Saturday on an 11-game winning streak is because the Caseys have nine players in the batter order and even a handful of additional players on the bench who have come up with multiple big hits this season.
Saturday, that dynamic played out once again for Red Bank Catholic - the No. 2 seed in the Monmouth County Tournament - in its MCT semifinal game against No. 3 Howell, only it did so all in the course of one inning.
Nine straight Caseys players reached base to start the bottom of the third inning as RBC exploded for eight runs in the game's deciding frame that sparked a 9-0 win over the Rebels. The win catapults the Caseys into MCT championship game after the team secured its 12th straight win.
RBC will take on two-time defending champion and current No. 1 seed Christian Brothers Academy in Wednesday's final, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood.
"A lot of different guys have stepped up in big spots and I think knowing that we have a lot of different players who can beat you has taken some of the pressure off of our big hitters," Hausmann said. "Guys have had some off games, but nobody's really been in an extended slump and it probably helps that they can look at our lineup and know that if one guy doesn't get it done one day, somebody is going to pick it up, and then it will be somebody else the next game."
No. 9 hitter and left fielder Pat Leonard started the big inning with a single and Howell starter James Wynne hit leadoff hitter Evan Madigan with a pitch to set up the rally. Junior center fielder Dom Caraballo then laid down a bunt that was thrown away, allowing two runs to score and Caraballo to scurry all the way to third.
Junior second baseman Aaron Ahn then stepped to the plate and on a 1-1 offering, tattooed a hanging breaking ball over the left field fence to stake RBC to a 4-0 lead. The homer was the team-leading fourth of the season for Ahn, who missed a brief stretch of games with a hamstring pull and is still tied for second on the team with 13 RBI.
"I'm seeing more and more offspeed stuff and I couldn't really adjust to it last year when I started to see it," said Ahn, who is committed to play at the United States Naval Academy after he graduates high school next year. "I'm seeing those pitches a lot better now and I'm just trying to attack earlier in the count."
The Caseys benefitted from two more Howell errors in the inning, while Doug Facendo followed Ahn's homer with a double inside the third-base bag and Mike Spinelli later knocked in a run with an RBI single. Spinelli finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBI and was the only RBC player with multiple hits.
RBC's breakout inning came after the Caseys squandered a first-inning opportunity in which they loaded the bases with no one out. Wynne induced a 3-6-3 double play for the first two outs and got a fly out to end the threat.
Senior right-hander John Poccia (6-1) cruised through five shutout innings to earn the win, allowing two hits and walking none. He struck out two and needed only 62 pitches to do the job, which makes him the likely choice to get the start Wednesday against CBA. RBC has already locked up the Class B North championship, so Hausmann can plan his team's week around the Colts, against whom Poccia pitched in last year's Shore Conference Tournament final - a 4-0 CBA win.
Red Bank Catholic will also have left-hander Justin Liggett and senior sidearmer Jack Ipsen available after each threw an inning on Saturday. Ipsen has allowed 16 baserunners in 18 innings this season - only one of which has reached on a walk.
"That was going to be our formula anyway (on Wednesday), but to get (Poccia) out of there with 62 pitches in five innings makes it even more obvious," Hausmann said of his intention to pair up Poccia with Ipsen in the final, as he has done often over the course of the season. "He would be ready anyway, but this way, he should be fresh, which definitely helps."
(2) Red Bank Catholic 9, (3) Howell 0
|James Wynne (L, 1-1)||2||5||7||4||1||1|
|John Poccia (W, 6-1)||5||2||0||0||0||2|
|Troy Miller||1-3, 2B|
|Aaron Ahn||1-3, HR, 2 RBI|
|Mike Spinelli||3-4, R, 2 RBI|
|Pat Leonard||1-2, R, RBI|
|Evan Madigan||1-2, R|
|Doug Facendo||1-4, 2B|
|Mike Veit||1-3, R|