RADNOR >> It’s all about the approach.
Having lost a significant portion of its run-producing offense from last season, the Archbishop Wood team naturally relied on its experienced pitching staff early in the season. The last few games however, the bats have shown quite a bit of life.
It’s not too hard to trace the reason why.
“Our approaches have gotten a lot better,” Vikings junior catcher John Gifford said. “Guys have been cutting down their swings, trying to get the bat on the ball. It’s producing pretty well.”
Everything went Wood’s way on Wednesday, when it dispatched host Archbishop Carroll 16-0 in five innings. Pitcher Jack Colyar took a no-hitter into the fifth, Gifford drove in four runs and the Vikings combined for 12 hits and seven walks.
As much as everything was going great for Wood, things weren’t going in Carroll’s favor at all. The Patriots committed six errors, couldn’t get a hit and weren’t able to get out of innings before Wood made them pay.
“There’s nothing really good to bring out of it,” Carroll coach Mike Costanzo said. “We move on and hopefully play a little better baseball next week. We have a couple big games coming up, although every game for us is big. We just have to find our team identity.”
The first inning was an indicator of how the day was going to go for both teams. Carroll (6-3, 4-2 PCL) starter James Kelly struck out the first two batters he faced, then gave up two walks and a single to load the bases before escaping the jam, having burned 31 pitches. Colyar, a sophomore righty, needed just 13 pitches to retire Carroll.
Wood (8-2, 4-1 PCL) put two men on base again in the second and although the Vikings didn’t capitalize, coach Jim DiGuiseppe Jr saw plenty of signs his team was going to score. The Vikings coach felt his players did a good job of attacking the ball and driving it, especially against a top-tier arm in Kelly.
“Really, one through nine, we had some outstanding approaches at the plate today,” DiGuiseppe said. “Even in the first and second innings, we didn’t push runs across but we were having good, quality at-bats. In the third, fourth and fifth, we continued that.”
The Vikings started the third like they had the previous two innings, by getting men on. A perfect bunt by Dylan Slowinski netted the outfielder a single and loaded the bags with one out. Wood looked to have a run on an apparent throwing error by catcher Cole Chesnet during Robbie Bailey’s at-bat.
However, Chesnet’s arm hit the home plate umpire and after a conference, the two officials ruled it a dead ball and reset the field. Bailey simply drew a walk to bring Mike Ferrara home and this time, count it.
That opened the gates as Greg Cannon and Mick Pristas followed with RBI singles, Kyle McNamee worked a bases-loaded walk and Ferrara dropped in a two-run single to put Wood up 6-0.
“It gave all of us confidence that we were going to be able to hit (Kelly), especially with him being one of their best guys,” Gifford said. “We put good swings on good pitches and hit the ball.
“It’s all the same thing, going up and having good at-bats and looking for your pitch and not swinging at bad pitches. I think in the first couple of games we were swinging at bad pitches and not having those good approaches but our bats are coming alive now.”
Wood added on five more runs in the fourth inning off reliever Ian Myers with and error allowing one in, McNamee providing an RBI single and Ferrara bringing in a run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Gifford had the big hit with a booming double to left field that plated Sam Reynolds and McNamee.
The catcher drove in two more runs on a fifth-inning single as Wood tacked on five more using mostly reserve players.
“Our kids really responded well in a playoff-type atmosphere,” DiGuiseppe said. “We have 15 positions and six pitcher-only. Our bench has done a great job for us all year, whether it’s as a courtesy runner, a pinch-hitter or coming in as a defensive replacement, our bench deserves a lot of credit as well.”
The Vikings travel to Holy Ghost Prep on Saturday where the reserve guys will get some more chances to play. DiGuiseppe knows his team will need every man on the roster at some point this season and what is most encouraging is that the bats are catching up to the pitchers and the work in the field is quite right now.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, it’s something we want to build on,” Gifford said. “This one feels good, so we’ll have to build on it.”
Archbishop Wood 16, Archbishop Carroll 0 (5)
ARCHBISHOP WOOD 006 55 – 16 12 1
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL 000 00 – 0 1 6
WP: Jack Colyar. LP: James Kelly. SO-BB: AW – Jack Colyar 5-4, Cody Kracknell 1-0; AC – James Kelly 5-5, Ian Myers 0-2, Christian Argentieri 1-0.
2B: John Gifford (AW). Multiple hits: AW – John Gifford 3-4. RBI: AW – John Gifford 4, Mike Ferrara 3, Kyle McNamee 2, Dan Trimber, Mick Pristas, Greg Cannon, Robbie Bailey.
Top Photo: Archbishop Carroll pitcher James Kelly tags Archbishop Woods Kyle McNamee out running to first during their game on Thursday, April 19, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)