NORTH BRUNSWICK - The Red Bank Catholic baseball team prepared for its showdown against a nationally-ranked Delbarton and flame-thrower Jack Leiter Saturday by setting the pitching machine to the fastest setting and taking batting practice just before leaving for North Brunswick Community Park.

The preparation worked: Red Bank Catholic collected 10 hits and three runs against Leiter - a Vanderbilt commit, a potential first-round pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball First-year Player Draft and the son of former Major Leaguer and Central Regional alum Al Leiter - as part of a seven-run game overall.

Unfortunately for Red Bank Catholic, the Caseys found out that Delbarton is not ranked No. 10 in the country by USA Today just because of Leiter.

Despite getting to Leiter for three runs on 10 hits over five innings, RBC could not slow down the rest of the Green Wave, which homered three times and held off a seventh-inning rally by the Caseys to pull out a 9-7 win in the marquee matchup of Saturday's Autism Awareness Challenge.

Delbarton senior right-hander Jack Leiter. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Delbarton senior right-hander Jack Leiter. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Junior Rob Gonzalez went 3-for-3 with a double to lead the effort against Leiter, whose fastball was clocked between 92 and 96 miles-per-hour by a handful of the many Major League scouts on hand to evaluate the son of the former Mets ace. Gonzalez is off to a fast start in 2019 and his three clean hits on Saturday only served to validate his approach early in his junior season.

"I just tried to stay relaxed and treat the at-bats like they were in any other game or any other pitcher," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, he throws a lot harder, so you have to try to stay focused on every pitch."

While no other Caseys hitter had a perfect day against Leiter, a number got to him at some point. Junior Jack Scrivanic and sophomore Shane Panzini hit back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the fourth inning to plate the first run against the Delbarton ace and cut Delbarton's lead to 7-0.

Scrivanic entered the game having hit a grand slam in each of RBC's last two games and lifted two towering fly balls to right-center field to go along with his double. One of those high, deep flyouts came with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and went for a sacrifice fly.

Panzini finished 2-for-3 with an RBI against Leiter, as did junior catcher Chris Sparber and senior starting pitcher Vincent Bianchi. After Gonzalez doubled to start the fifth, Bianchi followed with an RBI triple and scored on a hard-hit, infield single by Sparber to make the score 8-3. In all, RBC racked up four extra-base hits against Leiter.

"We just tried to choke up on the bat a little bit, shorten up a little and make sure we swung at good pitches," Gonzalez said. "We turned up the pitching machine to get ready and I think that probably helped. We have good hitters though so I think we were pretty confident coming in."

In all, Leiter lasted five innings and 93 pitchers on Saturday, allowing three runs on 10 hits and one walk, which was intentional. He did give the scouts and the crowd of spectators plenty of what they were looking for as well - 10 strikeouts, a fastball that touched 96 miles-per-hour and a quality mix of secondary offerings, highlighted by a devastating curveball.

Ultimately, Delbarton's offense proved to be too much to overcome and the Caseys hurt their own cause in some critical spots as well. The Green Wave scored its fourth run of the game on a balk call on Bianchi in the fourth inning with runners on the corners and two out. RBC coach Buddy Hausmann argued the call by the home plate umpire, who claimed Bianchi did not come to a full stop prior to delivering the pitch.

After RBC issued an intentional walk to shortstop and another Vanderbilt commit Anthony Volpe, Delbarton broke the game open on a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field by North Carolina commit Shawn Rapp to make it 7-0.

Volpe opened the scoring with a two-run home run to right-center on the second batter of the game. Delbarton added an insurance run in the seventh when relief pitcher Matt Casey ripped a solo home run in his lone at-bat of the game for his team's third long ball.

RBC entered the bottom of the seventh trailing by six runs but rallied to bring the winning run to the plate. The Caseys loaded the bases with one out, prompting Delbarton to replace Casey with Rapp on the mound. The left-hander recorded the second out on a sacrifice fly by Scrivanic but walked Panzini and hit designated hitter Ray Martini. Junior Anthony Borriello beat out an RBI infield single and a second run scored on a throwing error to make the score 9-7.

Rapp ended the game by striking out leadoff hitter and senior second baseman Alex Gonzalez.

Bianchi opposed Leiter on the mound and although he gave up a pair of home runs, he also ran into some poor luck as well. In addition to the balk call, an error opened the door to Delbarton's four-run fourth inning that proved too much for RBC to overcome. The St.-John's-bound right-hander allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five over four innings.

Although Saturday marked a missed opportunity for Red Bank Catholic to take down the No. 1 team in N.J., the Caseys left Middlesex County with plenty of reasons for optimism. They mounted a strong offensive effort against one of the nation's top right-handers and did so with standout center fielder David Glancy still sidelined by a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

With a healthy lineup and four pitchers - Bianchi, Panzini, senior Ryan O'Hara and junior John Nimeth - who top out in the high-80's and low-90's on the radar gun, RBC proved Saturday it could be a handful come tournament time.

"We learned a lot coming here," Rob Gonzalez said. "If we make a few plays here and there, the outcome is a lot different. We'll clean that up in practice and we'll keep getting better."


Box Score

Delbarton 9, Red Bank Catholic 7

Delbarton (5-1)2104101991
RBC (5-2)00012047123


Jack Leiter (W, 2-0)5103311093
Matt Carey1.11333040
Shawn Rapp0.21101123
Vincent Bianchi (L, 0-2)46732577
Tyler Birnbaum33211142

Top Hitters

Anthony Volpe1-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Mark Darakjy2-4, 2 R, RBI
Shawn Rapp1-4, HR, 3 RBI
Matt Carey1-1, HR, R, RBI
Red Bank CatholicStats
Rob Gonzalez3-3, 2B, 2 R
Vincent Bianchi2-3, 3B, 2 R, RBI
Shane Panzini2-3, 2B, R, RBI
Jack Scrivanic1-3, 2B, R, RBI
Chris Sparber2-3, RBI



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