RED BANK - Red Bank Catholic junior right-handed pitcher Blaise Panzini did not know he was pitching a no-hitter until he was already told he would be coming out of the game following the top of the fifth inning. Caseys coach Buddy Hausmann didn't know he had a no-hitter going until after the game.

Both might have missed the potential no-hitter, but it doesn't take much to notice how effective Red Bank Catholic's inexperienced pitching staff has been in the Caseys' first two games. Panzini's combined one-hitter with fellow junior Jake Birnbaum in Wednesday's 10-1 win over Ocean was the more recent case in point.

"There's not a whole lot of talking in the dugout when a no-hitter's going on, so it's sometimes hard to know," Panzini said. "I came out after the fifth and I knew I wasn't going back out. One of the guys said to me, 'Hey, you know it's on, right?' which is what we say when somebody has a no hitter. I had no idea."

Red Bank Catholic junior Blaise Panzini. (Photo by Matt Manley)

The possibility of a no-hitter might not been on the mind of either Panzini or Hausmann because Ocean scored in the top of the first inning. Panzini hit leadoff man Jake D'Auria, who stole second base and scored on an errant throw on a double steal with runners on the corners.

Panzini also needed 71 pitches to navigate through the first three innings, which was the primary culprit in his removal after throwing 81 pitches through five innings. The junior right-hander, who is verbally committed to pitch at Army, walked four and hit two batters while striking out five.

"We threw a lot of first pitch curveballs and tried to pound the zone," Panzini said. "I missed some spots at times, but I was able to make the pitches I needed to make and I felt like I got better and better every inning."

Even though Panzini was finished after five innings, the Caseys offense still had a chance to get him a no-hitter, albeit a five-inning one. Leading 10-1, RBC loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth and one run would have ended the game via the 10-run rule. Ocean senior side-armer Travis Lillie, however, coaxed consecutive fielder's choice outs at home plate and senior Aaron Ahn was caught trying to score on a ball that got past Alec Keezer, but close enough to the Ocean catcher for him to pick it up and tag Ahn before he reached the plate.

Birnbaum struck out the first two batters he faced before hitting Spartans designated hitter Matt Redbord and surrendering the lone Ocean hit to first baseman Phil DeMarco, who ripped a groundball inside the third-base bag for a two-out single.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first, RBC quickly answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Senior center fielder Dom Caraballo doubled to left-center to lead off the rally and scored on a throwing error following a single to left field by RBC senior first baseman Mike Veit.

Ahn singled Veit, who advanced to second on the throwing error, over to third to set up senior third baseman Anthony DeRosa's sacrifice fly. Ahn was caught stealing second by Keezer for the second out, but designated hitter Brian Sheehy started a two-out rally with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by senior second baseman Aidan Supp to make it 3-1.

Veit checked in again with a two-run single in the second and Supp singled and scored on a double-play ball in the bottom of the third to make it 6-1. Veit also doubled with one out to start a four-run rally in the fourth, a rally that included RBI singles by Ahn, left-fielder Shane Turk and right fielder David Glancy.

Juniors Austin Nappi and Jack Bertoldo combined to finish the first game - a 12-3 win over Long Branch on Monday. Nappi allowed three runs on six hits in six innings, but all three runs were unearned on account of RBC's five errors. Bertoldo pitched a scoreless seventh.

All four Red Bank Catholic runs allowed in the first two games are unearned, but that certainly won't deter Panzini and the rest of the staff from trying to follow the formula that worked so well for last year's senior-laden staff: pound the strike zone, let the defense go to work on the predictable, artificial playing surface at Basie Park, and trust the offense to put a whole bunch of runs on the board.

"We knew we needed to get work in and that every article or story we read about us was going to say we're a young pitching staff," Panzini said. "I think we had about 30 innings between me, Jake and Nappi. I think we're all ready to go and we're ready to turn some heads this year."

 

Box Score

Red Bank Catholic 10, Ocean 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Ocean (1-1, 1-1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
RBC (2-0, 2-0) 3 2 1 4 0 0 x 10 14 1

 

Pitching

Ocean IP H R ER BB SO PC
Brian Davis (L, 0-1) 3.1 9 9 8 2 3 78
Travis Lillie 1.2 3 1 1 0 1 29
Ryan Jenks 1 2 0 0 0 0 15
RBC IP H R ER BB SO PC
Blaise Panzini (W, 1-0) 5 0 1 0 4 5 81
Jake Birnbaum 2 1 0 0 1 3 34

 

Top Hitters

Ocean Game Stats
Jack D’Auria 0-1, BB, R, 2 SB
Phil DeMarco 1-3

 

Top Hitters

Ocean Game Stats
Jack D’Auria 0-1, BB, R, 2 SB
Phil DeMarco 1-3

 

RBC Game Stats
Mike Veit 4-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Aidan Supp 3-4, R, RBI
Aaron Ahn 2-2, 2 BB, R, RBI
David Glancy 2-4, R, RBI
Dom Caraballo 1-4, 2B, R
Steve Turk 1-4, RBI
Anthony DeRosa 0-2, BB, R, RBI

 

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