HATFIELD TWP. >> As Lansdale Catholic coach Nick Villucci so aptly put it, his team had been “knocking on the door all day.”
But Ryan right-hander Pat Reilly was the lock the Crusaders couldn’t break.
Reilly’s curveball and a persistent seventh-inning performance keyed the Raiders’ 2-1 victory in a well-played Philadelphia Catholic League contest at sunny School Road Park Wednesday.
“I knew it was gonna be a close game,” said Reilly, who went the distance, allowing one run off of five hits while striking out eight and walking just one. “That’s a good ballclub over there. We were lucky to pull it out.”
Holding tight to a 2-1 lead, Reilly faced Ryan McSorley to lead off the seventh. McSorley hit a chopper that appeared to be trouble, but shortstop Pat Kajder fielded it on a bad hop, threw over to first, and Adam Estrada went down low to scoop it up for a pivotal out number one.
Ryan Ungurean then belted a single to left, putting the tying runner on for LC (1-2 PCL).
That is when Reilly was really able to bear down.
He struck out Drew Chiappa looking and then got ahead of Mike Ottomano, 0-2. Ottomano battled back though, lining a single to left to give the Crusaders runners at first and second.
Reilly, who said he was intent on cutting down on his walks and did in a big way, again got ahead 0-2, this time to Connor Thompson. Thompson hung in.
“Good fight by Connor all the way,” said LC starter Nolan Dougherty, who comprised the other half of this pitcher’s duel.
Reilly ultimately got Thompson to pop out to third, and Nick Glebocki squeezed it for the final out of the contest. Ryan boosted its record to 3-1 in the PCL.
“They’re a good group of guys. It’s a pleasure coming to practice every day,” Reilly said of his team.
The senior has found a new home on the mound.
“I pitched when I was a kid but all through high school I just played the field. I pitched in the fall and did pretty well,” he said, “and all of a sudden I’m pitching in the league.”
Reilly was so in command that during one stretch from the first inning to the third, he retired eight in a row.
“I was just locked in,” he said.
Meanwhile Dougherty made the Raiders work just as hard to produce offense, all of which came in the fourth.
Ryan had trouble with Dougherty’s forkball but managed to get a hold of a few high fastballs, with catcher Brian Yost socking a double to the left corner.
Dave Delvecchio singled him home, and after a strikout and a walk, Cory Hunter’s bloop single drove in another run, making it 2-0 Raiders.
LC cut the lead in half in the fifth, with Thompson driving in Mike Ottomano to make it 2-1. Reilly would win the final round with Thompson in the seventh.
“We’re definitely coming around. It’s just a few little things we have to clean up — I gotta put the ball down more, we don’t wanna be striking out looking, stuff like that,” said Dougherty, who limited Ryan to two runs and seven hits in his six innings of work. “It’ll make us a better team. We’re just a few steps away.”
“Good baseball game,” Villucci said. “We were right there with them the whole time. Both pitchers were phenomenal.”
Both teams are back on the diamond Monday — LC is at Cardinal O’Hara and Ryan is at St. Joseph’s Prep.