Baseball – Leary Discovers His Command, Stanyek Finds Power Stoke in Red Bank Catholic SCT Win
RED BANK -- During his All-Shore sophomore season in 2022, Red Bank Catholic right-hand pitcher Declan Leary issued nine walks in all of his 48 2/3 inning pitched.
In his last outing prior to Thursday -- a Monmouth County Tournament semifinal game vs. Christian Brothers Academy -- Leary issued six walks. Although he still spun five scoreless innings in a victory over the Caseys' local non-public rival, the performance was a deviation from the approach that made Leary a breakout star on the mound a year ago.
Back on the mound vs. CBA on Thursday in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals, Leary rediscovered his pinpoint command and pitched the Caseys -- the No. 2 seed in the SCT -- to the brink of a historic championship run.
Leary pitched a complete-game, three-hitter with one walk and six strikeouts as Red Bank Catholic topped CBA, 3-1, to advance to the Shore Conference Tournament final for the fourth consecutive season.
Although he allowed one more run than he did in his previous start vs. CBA, Leary gave up fewer baserunners, limited CBA to just one free pass and was able to complete the game on 99 pitches.
"I he didn't have the command he did today, he was already at 100 pitches so he would have been out of the that game (today)," said Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann, who was warming senior right-hander Ethan Marzo up in the seventh inning in case Leary had to exit the game. "Not that Marzo hasn't done a good job -- we felt good if we had to go to him. But with the way Declan was throwing, it was going to be his game until he had to come out."
RBC provided Leary with all of the run support it could muster in the first three innings and it was manufactured, primarily by Alex Stanyek with a little help from classmate and catcher Shane Andrus.
Stanyek and senior first baseman Frank Scrivanic both singled in the bottom of the first and moved up a base on a wild pitch to set runners up on second and third for Andrus, who plated Red Bank Catholic's first run with a groundout to second base, chasing home Stanyek from third.
In the bottom of the third, Stanyek led off and launched a 2-0 pitch from CBA starter Nick Harnish over the fence in dead centerfield, just to the left of the scoreboard for a 2-0 Caseys lead.
Red Bank Catholic tacked on a second run in the inning thanks to a single by third baseman Sean Griggs, a groundout by Scrivanic that advanced him to second and an RBI single that Andrus scalded through the right side of the infield to plate Griggs.
After giving up three runs on six hits in the first three innings, Harnisch settled in and limited RBC to two hits over four consecutive scoreless frames to finish a complete game and give the CBA offense a chance to catch up.
Leary, though, would not allow the Colts many opportunities to cut into the Caseys lead. The best scoring chance came in the top of the fifth and CBA cashed in with one run -- the only run the Colts have scored against Leary in 12 innings this season.
Sophomore catcher Danny Tsimbinos drew a leadoff walk and his courtesy runner, Jaxon Sevilla, was retired on a fielder's choice groundout by Will Fahey. With out out Fahey stole second base and moved to third when Matt DiFeo grounded out slowly to Griggs at third base for the second out.
That brought up third baseman Wyatt Hunt, who collected his second run-scoring extra-base hit of the last two SCT rounds when he roped an RBI triple into the rightfield corner to get CBA on the board. Hunt also hit a two-run home run to cap the scoring in CBA's 5-1 win at Donovan Catholic in Monday's SCT quarterfinal round.
After Hunt broke up the shutout, Leary dug in and struck out the next batter to strand Hunt at third base and keep the RBC lead at 3-1. That inning-ending strikeout in the fifth was the first of seven straight batters retired to close out the game -- a run that included three of his six strikeouts.
While RBC was glad to collect its second tournament win over CBA this season on Thursday, it is hoping to avoid a similar repeat in Sunday's Shore Conference Tournament final at ShoreTown Ballpark in Lakewood. The Caseys will take on top-seeded Ranney in a rematch of the Monmouth County Tournament championship game on May 10, which Ranney won with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh after Red Bank Catholic took the lead with two runs in the top of the seventh.
RBC will be seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship while trying to deny Ranney its first ever championship, as well as the third championship of the season for the Panthers -- who have already won the Class B North division championship to go with the MCT title.
Not only has no team ever won four straight Shore Conference Tournament titles, but none have ever won four in a five-year stretch, which the Caseys will be attempting to do.
"Nobody has ever won this tournament four straight times," Hausmann said. "We are the three-time champs and technically, it's our tournament to lose. Monmouth County was just as much of a goal too and it got away, but we learned from it and we have played better since."
Hausmann said Stanyek, who has made just three starts this season but all of them have been impressive outings against state-ranked opponents (Rumson-Fair Haven, Gloucester Catholic and Ranney), will be the Caseys starting pitching on Sunday night in Lakewood. Stanyek last pitched in the MCT final and allowed two earned runs before leaving with a 5-4 lead after six innings.
"He has been dealing with a back issue all year, but he said he has been feeling really good," Hausmann said of Stanyek. "He has been doing two treatments a day to keep his back feeling good and we have been able to space his starts out so that he feels 100 percent for all of them. He is ready to go, so he's our guy Sunday."
Red Bank Catholic 3, CBA 1
|Nick Harnisch (L, 5-3)||6||8||3||3||1||5||89|
|Red Bank Catholic||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO||PC|
|Declan Leary (W, 5-0)||7||3||1||1||1||6||99|
|Wyatt Hunt||2-2, 3B, RBI, SB|
|Red Bank Catholic||Game Stats|
|Alex Stanyek||2-3, HR, 2 R, RBI|
|Shane Andrus||1-3, 2 RBI|
|Sean Griggs||1-3, R|
|Frank Scrivanic||2-3, 2B|
|Matt Brunner||1-3, SB|