Baseball – Dylan Galamb’s Clutch Home Run Propels St. John Vianney Over CBA
MIDDLETOWN - It is usually a good sign when a head coach and his starting pitcher are on the same page and that was the case with St. John Vianney head coach Mike Morgan and senior left-hander Ryan Sekman on Tuesday.
Even with their team one out away from elimination in the NJSIAA Tournament at Christian Brothers Academy, Morgan and Sekman could both sense something good was about to happen for their side.
From Morgan's perspective, that was because he has seen this before: both from the hitter at the plate with the game on the line and from his program when it plays at CBA in the NJSIAA Non-Public A Playoffs.
The shared hunch became reality when junior left fielder Dylan Galamb drilled a go-ahead two-run home run with two out in the top of the seventh inning for the winning swing in a 3-2, come-from-behind win for the Lancers - the No. 9 seed in the South Jersey Non-Public A section - over No. 8 CBA in the state-tournament opener.
"It's amazing," Galamb said after hitting his game-winner. "That's going to be a story to tell for a while."
"I came off the mound (after the sixth) inning and I knew something was going to happen," Sekman said. "We were going to get guys on base, we were going to battle and somebody was going to come through. Dylan Galamb - that was a great hit. I just had a feeling."
Tuesday marked the first time the two Shore Conference Non-Public programs have met in the NJSIAA Tournament since 2014, when St. John Vianney won, 13-9, at CBA in the South Jersey sectional semifinals on the way to an overall Non-Public A championship. CBA would win the title the following year.
"I was talking to (assistant) coach (Bill) Newman before the game and we have been together a long time here," Morgan said. "We were saying every time we play CBA, it's either a one-run game or we get 10-runned. It was a great game."
While St. John Vianney has that precedent for success against the Colts in Lincroft, that was seven years ago - when Galamb was only 10 years old. Still, Morgan and Galamb's teammates were confident the junior would make something happen when the team needed it most - one of the reasons Morgan has tabbed him as the team's leadoff hitter.
"It's great to see a kid like Dylan come through like that," Morgan said. "The things we have been doing in practice, the way we have been hitting. The boys have really gotten it down to a science where they really knock how drive a ball when it's time to get a hit."
Earlier in the game, Galamb struck an RBI single to centerfield on a 2-2 count with two out in the top of the fifth to cut CBA's lead in half, 2-1. When he came up in the seventh as the go-ahead run, expecting a home run might have been a stretch - he had not homered prior to Tuesday and had just one double on the season - but his coach and teammates were optimistic the game would continue.
"His last at-bat, he had a great at-bat," Morgan said. "He had a great approach and he kind of changed the game with that hit. I tell the guys all the time, you get four at-bats in a game and if you can get one or two hits, that could be the difference."
"He has worked hard all offseason," Sekman said of Galamb. "I saw him in the weight room all year. Definitely a hard-worker and someone to look out for next year. We came here to win and there was never a doubt in my mind we were going to find a way."
With junior Kyle Pollack on first after a one-out walk, Galamb ripped a 1-1 offering over the fence in left field after CBA senior Henry Escandon recorded the second out of the inning on a foul-out to first base. Galamb finished 2-for-4 and drove in all three Lancers runs.
"I thought it was just going to be over (the left-fielder's) head and hopefully it could score Kyle, but then it just went," Galamb said. "I wasn't even in the moment. It was just amazing."
Senior Thomas Wright came on to pitch the seventh and fired a one-two-three inning on 11 pitches with a pair of strikeouts to nail down the save.
"Tommy Wright has been the key player in the pitching staff all season," Sekman said. "I knew he was going to be great. I had no doubt in my mind he was going to get the last three outs."
Galamb's home run made a winner of Sekman, who gave up a lead-off single in the bottom of the sixth and proceeded to strike out the final three batters of the inning to end his 100-pitch outing on a high note while giving his team a morale boost heading into their final turn at-bat.
"You could tell he was getting a little tired in that last inning," Morgan said. "He said to me after he walked off the mound after he struck out the last kid, 'I don't even know what pitch I threw there, coach. I just threw it.' That, to me, shows that for four years, that he has been a gamer. He's definitely a gamer."
Sekman allowed two earned runs for just the second time this season, which raised his 2021 ERA from an even 1.00 to 1.20. At the same time, his 11 strikeouts matched a career-high as he ran his season record to 5-1 and career state tournament record to 2-0.
"I knew this could be the last game I pitch in my high-school career, so I definitely gave it my all," Sekman said. "I didn't want anything else but a win."
CBA senior left-fielder Mike Natali denied St. John Vianney two runs in the top of the fourth inning with an all-out diving catch on a ball hit over his head and into the gap in left-centerfield for the final out of the inning. Junior Brady Oswick stung the ball toward the gap with runners on second and third, only to be denied by Natali to keep the game scoreless.
The Colts pushed two across in the bottom half of the fourth on RBI singles by senior catcher Joe Figliolino and junior starting pitcher Colin Reilly.
Vianney answered with a run in the top of the fifth, with Galamb delivering a two-out RBI single to center to cut the CBA lead in half.
Both Reilly and Sekman came out strong on the mound, with Reilly retiring the first 10 batters he faced with five strikeouts, including striking out the side in the top of the third. After retiring Galamb to lead off the fourth, Reilly gave up a single to senior John Furch and a double to right by junior Matteo Pasculli on back-to-back at-bats. He got out of trouble with a shallow fly out to left and thanks to Natali's diving catch to end the threat.
Sekman, meanwhile, struck out the side in both the second and third innings with only a second-inning error mixed in, giving him seven punchouts in the first three innings.
Tuesday's win earns St. John Vianney a shot at the section's No. 1 seed, which also happens to be New Jersey's No. 1 team, according to NJ Advance Media. Bishop Eustace takes a 20-0 record into the end of the week and is led by senior left-handed starter Anthony Solometo - who is a potential first-round pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft.
The last time St. John Vianney played CBA and Bishop Eustace in back-to-back rounds of the state tournament was that 2014 championship season, when the Lancers went down south and beat the Crusaders, 10-0, before beating CBA in the next round.
"We went down there in 2014 and I just tried to pump the guys up, telling them we have everything to gain and nothing to lose," Morgan said. "That's the same message this year. We have nothing to lose. We're the nine-seed in the state tournament going against the best team in the state. Just go down there and play hard. They have to make the plays just like we do."
Once again, this time will be different. Solometo has not pitched in a week and while it's not set who will take the ball for the Crusaders, starting on Friday would allow Solometo to pitch to the single-game maximum of 110 pitches in three of the four rounds of the tournament should Bishop Eustace reach the championship game.
St. John Vianney will have senior veterans Wright and Evan Pollack ready, as well as talented sophomore right-hander Aiden Cody.
"It's going to be tough," Sekman said. "It's a hard bracket, they are a great team, so we just have to play St. John Vianney baseball. We have to know who we are and just give it our all because it could be our last time on a field."
St. John Vianney 3, CBA 2
|St. John Vianney||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO||PC|
|Ryan Sekman (W, 5-1)||6||5||2||2||3||11||100|
|Thomas Wright (SV, 2)||1||0||0||0||0||2||11|
|Henry Escandon (L, 1-3)||1.2||1||2||2||1||1||34|
|St. John Vianney||Game Stats|
|Dylan Galamb||2-4, HR, 3 RBI|
|Kyle Pollack||0-1, 2 BB, 2 R|
|Matteo Pasculli||1-3, 2B|
|Joe Figliolino||1-3, RBI|
|Colin Reilly||1-3, RBI|
|Harrison Campi||1-3, R|
|Gavin Kus||1-4, 2B|