HOLMDEL – At its best, the St. John Vianney offense is a raging fire with no beginning and no end, and like most fires, it started with a seemingly innocent spark Thursday against Notre Dame in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A first round.

The eighth-seeded Lancers surprised the No. 9 Fighting Irish with two early sacrifice bunt attempts and turned them into the first of four big innings en route to a 13-3 win in five innings. St. John Vianney will travel to face No. 1 seed Bishop Eustace on Monday in the sectional quarterfinals. The Crusaders are currently the No. 4 team in the latest Newark Star Ledger Top 20 and boast one of the state’s most potent offenses.

After a leadoff single by catcher Anthony Santoro in the first, center fielder Chris Loney and Evan Pietronico dropped down sacrifice bunts and Notre Dame failed to convert an out on either. Senior Joe Rotelli followed with a two-run double and St. John Vianney went on to score four runs in the first inning, followed by three each in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

St. John Vianney senior Joe Rotelli loads up for his fourth-inning single, which marked his 100th career varsity hit. (Photo by Matt Manley)

“It was some of the little things that got us going today,” St. John Vianney coach Mike Morgan said. “I’m sure they (Notre Dame) weren’t expecting us to come out and play small ball with the middle of our order, and that’s why we did it. We worked on that, we talked about it and we said, ‘If they’re going to give it to us, we’re going to take it.’ It worked out and everything took off from there.”

Senior second baseman Drew Fisher ended the game on the 10-run rule with a bases-loaded two-run single that also scored senior designated hitter Anthony LaVigne, who trotted home from first base on an overthrow at third base.

Drew Fisher 2-run 1B, LaVigne scores game-ending run from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

LaVigne and Pietronico each went 3-for-3 with a double to help lead the Lancers offense. LaVigne singled in a run in the first inning, doubled in a run in the third and also scored three runs and stole a base. Pietronico scored four runs and got on base to lead off both the third and fourth-inning rallies.

“When we’re hitting like we did today, one through nine, there’s nobody better in the Shore and there aren’t many better in the state,” Rotelli said. “Every guy in the order goes up there to do damage and when we all bring that team approach to all of our at-bats, we are really tough to pitch to.”

Anthony LaVigne RBI double from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

Rotelli went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the first, two runs scored and also notched his 100th career varsity hit with his fourth-inning single. Rotelli, Santoro and Pietronico are all in the 100-hit club and all three reached the milestone in a tournament game. Santoro doubled for his 100th hit in a Monmouth County Tournament win over Long Branch and Pietronico singled in a Shore Conference Tournament loss to Red Bank Catholic on Saturday.

“Obviously, I’m really proud for our three guys that reach the number because it speaks to their hard work and their ability over a four-year period, but I’m also proud that they also did it with other guys in our (Shore Conference Class A Central) division,” Morgan said. “(Al) Molina and (Brendan Madigan) at Red Bank Catholic both got there, then you look at the career Joe Sadler had at Holmdel. There’s been some really impressive individual talent on our schedule for these last four years and these guys have been up there with the best of them.”

Rotelli began his career at Holmdel and played as a freshman on the Hornets varsity team before transferring to St. John Vianney for his sophomore year.

“I was the last to get it and I didn’t do it in this uniform like they did, but I also had to sit 30 days (after the transfer),” Rotelli joked. “I told them, ‘If I had those 30 days, I would have beat you guys.’

"I'm proud that we all accomplished it together. I love watching those guys do well ahead of me and, really, the thing I like the most is watching everyone in the lineup hit. Days like today are the best because everybody contributes."

Joe Rotelli 2-run double from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

St. John Vianney got a combined six RBI from its No. 7 and 9 hitters in the order on Wednesday. Fisher bunted home a run with a squeeze bunt in the fourth inning prior to his two-run single in the fifth, while No. 9 hitter and third baseman Pat Devenney also went 1-for-2 with three RBI. Devenney walked with the bases loaded in the third and singled in two runs in the fourth.

Pat Devenney 2-run single from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

Devenney also helped starting pitcher Chris Morris escape the first inning with minimal damage by robbing Notre Dame shortstop Jamie Galazin of a potential two-run double with nobody out. Devenney gloved a hard-hit one-hopper down the line with a diving, back-handed stab and fired to first after checking the runner back at third. The Irish began the game with two line drives, the first a single by right fielder Evan Pié and the other a ringing double to the right field fence by designated hitter Austin O’Connell.

“That play (by Devenney) totally set the tone for the rest of the game,” LaVigne said. “Momentum is a big part of baseball and in sports in general and when you watch a teammate make a play like that, it just gets everybody up. We got out of that inning with one run, and we all couldn’t wait to go hit.”

After the first two batters, Morris settled down and avoided any major trouble the rest of the way. The senior right-hander allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings, but also struck out six and walked only one while running a 5-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio.

Chris Morris strikeout to end the 2nd from All Shore Media on Vimeo.

Morris – a Seton Hall University recruit – entered the game with only 13 innings of work this season, but recently threw a two-hitter in a win over Brick Memorial on May 11.

“He probably didn’t have his great stuff today like he did against Brick Memorial, but he made some big pitches with guys on,” Morgan said. “We have about four guys who can throw key innings at this point in the year and the pitching staff decided we wanted to go with him today. He hasn’t thrown too much this year and most of the teams in our bracket probably don’t know him.”

Senior left-hander Justin Chin pitched a 1-2-3 inning on nine pitches in the top of the fifth to give the Lancers lineup a chance to end the game in the fifth. Next up comes Bishop Eustace, a formidable obstacle to the Lancers' state title hopes.

“If we hit like we did today, I like our chances,” Morgan said. “Any team can be beaten and these are the games our guys have been looking forward to all year. If they go down there and play their best game and get a win, that puts them in the semifinals and gives us a great chance to play for a championship.”

“I don’t look at them as a challenge any more than any other team,” Rotelli said. “We play every team 110 percent. Give us the New York Yankees, we’ll play 110 percent. I’m going down there expecting to win. Bishop Eustace, here we come.”

 

Box Score

St. John Vianney 13, Notre Dame 3 (5 Innings)

1

2

3

4

5

R

H

E

Notre Dame (13-8)

1

1

0

1

0

3

7

3

St. John Vianney (16-7)

4

0

3

3

3

13

11

0

 

Notre Dame

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Evan Pié, RF

2

1

2

1

1

0

Austin O'Donnell, DH

2

0

1

1

0

1

-- Sean Smith, P-CF

0

0

0

0

0

0

Jamie Galazin, SS

3

0

0

0

0

1

Connor Lafferty, CF-P

2

0

1

1

0

0

Tyler Galazin, 2B

3

0

0

0

0

2

Chris Kline, LF

3

0

1

0

0

0

Mike Walley, 1B

2

1

1

0

0

1

Matt Multer, 3B

2

1

1

0

0

0

Anthony Titano, C

2

0

0

0

0

1

Totals

21

3

7

3

1

6

2B: O’Donnell
SF: O’Donnell
SB: Pié

St. John Vianney

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

Anthony Santoro, C

4

0

1

0

0

1

-- Victor Jamandron, CR

0

1

0

0

0

0

Chris Loney, CF

2

2

0

0

0

0

Evan Pietronico, RF

3

4

3

0

1

0

Joe Rotelli, 1B

4

2

2

2

0

0

Chris Morris, P-SS

2

1

0

1

0

1

Anthony LaVigne, DH

3

3

3

2

0

0

-- Vincent Durso, SS

0

0

0

0

0

0

-- Justin Chin, P

0

0

0

0

0

0

Drew Fisher, 2B

2

0

1

3

1

1

Nick DeLuise, LF

2

0

0

0

0

1

-- Nick Gugliara, LF

0

0

0

0

1

0

Pat Devenney, 3B

2

0

1

3

1

0

Totals

24

13

11

11

4

4

2B: Rotelli, LaVigne, Pietronico
SAC: Loney, Pietronico, Fisher
SF: Morris
SB: LaVigne

Notre Dame

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Sean Smith, L (5-2)

2.2

5

7

5

3

2

0

Connor Lafferty

2.0

6

6

5

1

2

0

 

St. John Vianney

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

Chris Morris, W (3-0)

4.0

7

3

3

1

6

0

Justin Chin

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

HBP: Lafferty (by Morris), Morris (by Smith), Loney (by Lafferty), LaVigne (by Lafferty)
Pitches-Strikes: Smith 68-35, Lafferty 45-32, Morris 81-53, Chin 9-7
Groundouts-Flyouts: Smith 3-1, Lafferty 2-2, Morris 5-1, Chin 1-2