RED BANK - As the first batter up following a pitching change during his team's Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Point Pleasant Borough, Red Bank Catholic junior Aiden Supp thought it might be a good idea to see a pitch, but before employing an strategy, he asked his coach while new Panthers pitcher Tim Rossi was warming up.

Red Bank Catholic head coach Buddy Hausmann advised Supp that instead of gauging the pitcher on the first pitch, be ready to take advantage of a pitcher looking to break the ice with strike one.

Supp heeded his coach's words of wisdom and on the first pitch he saw in that at bat in the bottom of the fifth, the junior third baseman smoked his first career varsity home run - a three-run shot over the left-field fence that blew open a three-run game and propelled the Caseys to a 9-2 win over the Panthers in the quarterfinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.

Teammates greet Aiden Supp at home plate after his fifth-inning home run. (Photo by Mark Brown, B51 Photography)

"He asked me if he should take the first pitch and I said, 'Aiden, usually relievers come in looking to feel their way around, trying to get ahead and get used to everything,' Hausmann said. "Most likely, he's going to groove this first pitch.'"

Supp's first career blast effectively buried a Point Boro team that reached the quarterfinals by rallying from a 6-2 fifth-inning deficit Friday to beat Ocean, 10-9, in nine innings. The Panthers had cut a 4-0 RBC lead in half with a pair of runs in the fourth inning before RBC put up four more in the fifth, capped by Supp's home run.

"Once we started to look like we were going to overwhelm them, we didn't let it get to our heads," Supp said. "We stayed in the game because we knew they were a scrappy team, the know how to win and they came back and won the last game on a walkoff. We stayed in the game, we did what our coaches said to do and we executed."

After Mike Spinelli dropped a bloop single into right field to score pinch-runner Connor Caizza from second, Point Boro coach Dave Drew took the ball from starter Josiah Gliddon and went to Rossi. Supp sat on a fastball, got one on the inner third of the plate and smacked it over the 300-foot sign on the fence to the right of the left-field foul pole.

"(Hausmann) told me I was probably going to get a fastball," Supp said. "New pitcher, he's probably looking to get a strike in. I saw it, attacked it, it went over (the fence). New game."

Supp finished the game 2-for-3, part of a balanced, 14-hit RBC attack that eventually landed the knockout blow against the Panthers. Senior Anthony DeRosa delivered a 3-for-4 game with two doubles, a run scored and two RBI. His first double hopped over the left-field fence for an RBI in the first inning and he capped the scoring with a long RBI double to center in the sixth.

Spinelli finished the game 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI singles, while center fielder Dom Caraballo and catcher Doug Facendo each went 2-for-4. Caraballo started a four-run first inning with a bunt single and a steal of second base before moving to third on a single to right field by second baseman Aaron Ahn. In four plate appearances, Ahn walked twice to go with his first-inning single.

Facendo then followed with a sharp ground ball that Point Boro third baseman Mark Leyble stopped with his glove enough to prevent the ball from carrying toward the left-field corner, but not enough to prevent a run from scoring on an RBI single by the RBC backstop.

DeRosa's first double made the score 2-0 and first baseman Mike Veit pushed home the third run with an RBI ground out to second base to score courtesy runner Brian Sheehy. Spinelli capped the scoring with a single through the middle.

RBC's offensive attack provided more than enough support for starter John Poccia, who won his eighth game of the season with a six-inning effort. Poccia coasted through the first three innings before running into fourth-inning trouble and after escaping that jam with minimal damage inflicted, he breezed through the fifth and sixth innings before giving way to closer Jack Ipsen.

"I knew one little momentum swing could jumpstart our offense," Poccia said. "We feed off each other and that makes us a really good team."

RBC catcher Doug Facendo tags out Point Boro senior Mike Falconetti on a botched squeeze play. (Photo by Mark Brown, B51 Photography)

In the fourth inning, the first four Point Boro batters reached base, the first of which was Bill Feehan, who reached on a two-base error in the outfield. Center fielder Frank Graziano ripped an RBI double to left field to put the Panthers on the board, then Mike Falconetti singled to right field to set up runners on the corners. Catcher Sebastian Severio followed with a ground-rule double to right field to plate a run and give Point Boro runners at second and third with none out.

Poccia went to work and struck out Gliddon for the first out of the inning, then caught a break when Thomas Paul missed a bunt attempt with the suicide squeeze on. Facendo tagged out Falconetti for the second out and Poccia struck out Paul to end the threat.

Poccia needed only 27 pitches to get through the first three innings and only 17 to coast through the final two. In all, he threw 60 pitches in six innings - 43 of which were for strikes. The senior right-hander struck out seven and did not walk a batter.

"When I went out to talk to him (in the fourth), he kind of knew it was his own fault," Hausmann said. "He got a little greedy, he was leaving things fat. He said it  right away when I went out there. He was cruising a little bit and he wasn't spotting the ball. It happens, he's a high school kid."

Wednesday's win sets up a second meeting between Red Bank Catholic and Christian Brothers Academy - the first of which came in the Monmouth County Tournament final. CBA defeated RBC in last year's SCT final, 4-0, and beat the Caseys, 4-0, again in the MCT final on May 11. Red Bank Catholic is less likely to face CBA ace Luca Dalatri this time around, although if he does not start Tuesday's NJSIAA Tournament quarterfinal game and CBA loses, he would be the overwhelmingly likely choice to pitch the SCT semifinal.

Red Bank Catholic, meanwhile, will also have to decide how to deploy its top pitchers - Poccia, Ipsen and left-hander Justin Liggett - for a potential three-game week. The Caseys are the No. 1 seed in the South Jersey Non-Public A section while CBA - the defending Non-Public A champion - is the No. 3.

"Whatever (Hausmann) tells me I need to do, I'm ready," Poccia said. "I've got a week to get ready, so whatever it is, I'll be ready."

Box Score

(4) Red Bank Catholic 9, (5) Point Boro 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Pt. Boro (21-4) 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 5 0
RBC (21-6) 4 0 0 0 4 1 X 9 14 1

Pitching

Pt. Boro IP H R ER BB SO
Josiah Gliddon (L, 4-3) 4.1 11 7 7 3 2
Tim Rossi 1.2   3 2 2 0 0
RBC IP H R ER BB SO
John Poccia (W, 8-2) 6 4 2 1 0 7
Jack Ipsen 1 1 0  0 0 1

Top Hitters

Pt. Boro Game Stats
Sebastian Severio 2-3, 2 2B, RBI
Frank Graziano 1-3, 2B, R, RBI
RBC Game Stats
Aiden Supp 2-3, HR, 3 RBI
Anthony DeRosa 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Mike Spinelli 2-2, R, 2 RBI, SB
Doug Facendo 2-4, 2 R, RBI
Mike Veit 1-3, R, RBI
Dom Caraballo 2-4, R
Aaron Ahn 1-2, 2 BB, R