CORNWELLS HEIGHTS – While it rained just about all day Saturday, April 22, two teams – Holy Ghost Prep (HGP) and Archbishop Wood – managed to get a complete game in, despite some pretty wet and miserable conditions for baseball.
After seven innings, however, with the sides deadlocked at two runs apiece, the Firebirds agreed to a tie with the Vikings.
“It was one of those games where nobody deserved to win or lose because of the conditions we were playing in,” said HGP head coach Vince Rossomando. “We both said, ‘it’s not worth risking getting somebody hurt in a non-league game.’
“I wouldn’t want that on my conscience and their coach wouldn’t want that, either.”
After getting run-ruled in last year’s annual matchup between the two schools, Ghost senior starter John McCrane and sophomore Ryan Staropoli limited Wood – which was coming off a 16-0 triumph over Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival Archbishop Carroll – to just five hits, only one of which went for extra bases.
Vikings pitchers – sophomore Bryce Stock, of Richboro, and senior Dan Trimber – limited the ‘birds to just two hits, though one of them was a crushing liner over the left field fence by senior Peyton Birch that went for a home run, giving the Ghost a 2-0 lead with no outs in the fourth inning.
Stock left a curveball hanging out over the plate and Birch, one of three senior captains at HGP, made him pay for it with his second home run of the season.
“His power is ridiculous,” said McCrane. “He loves that curveball and he’s a smart enough hitter to sit on it.
“He just crushed that; we knew it was gone as soon as he hit it.”
In the previous inning, HGP junior Sean Kerrigan handed the Firebirds a 1-0 lead, reaching base on a leadoff single to left field, going to third on an error and scoring on a force at second base on a ball slapped up the middle by McCrane.
After four scoreless frames in which Wood’s only hit was a two-out double by junior Mike Ferrara, the Vikings deadlocked the score in the top of the fifth, getting everything started with two outs. Singles by infielders Robbie Bailey and Blaise Smith and a walk to center fielder Dylan Slowinski loaded the bases and a two-run single by Sam Reynolds tied the sides at two runs apiece.
“Back to back situations with two outs, we had two guys battle in there at the plate and get two keys hits for us to drive in the runs – both, to get us to the bases loaded situation and the two-run single,” said AW head coach Jim DiGuisseppe Jr.
‘It’s exciting to see and I’m happy for our kids. For some of the guys who aren’t out there on a daily basis, it’s nice to see them produce.”
Ghost extinguished the rally when it caught Reynolds before he reached second base on an attempted double steal by the Vikings.
The muddy conditions at Ted Grabowskin Field upon which the duel took place didn’t favor the baserunners – each team had a pair of players picked off the basepaths.
“If you weren’t constantly moving your feet, you were just getting stuck in the dirt,” explained McCrane. “It was all mud out there.
“I was on first (base) and the coach had given me the steal sign and I could barely get started. Luckily, the (batter) fouled it off.”
Weather conditions may have helped Wood in this game. Two of the singles by the Vikings in the fifth inning were popups that, more than likely, would have been caught.
“It was good to come out and get that early lead; we were all pretty confident that we were going to keep it,” said McCrane. “That one inning, a couple bloopers fall and it’s a tie ball game.
“But this is the highlight of our season so far. It’s our first non-league game and I think we proved that we can hang in with some big schools.”
Wood is coming off a 16-6 season, its third straight District 12 championship and ensuing trip to states. The Vikings – who lost in the quarterfinal round of the Catholic League tournament to Saint Joe’s Prep and in the first round of states to Susquehanna Township – lost seven starters to graduation, however.
“We’re a very young group but a talented group,” stated DiGuisseppe. “But it’s really exciting to see these guys step out in the field each practice and each game.
“I really look forward to seeing them progress throughout the year and beyond.”
Wood righthander Jack Colyar, a sophomore from Yardley who is committed to Duke, has two wins on the season including last week’s win over Carroll.
Offensively, Antonio Rosillo, a sophomore, is hitting .370 and leads the Vikings in RBIs.
For the Firebirds, McCrane is 2-0 with a non-decision in the battle with the Vikings. His wins came over Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) rivals Lower Moreland and Valley Forge Military Academy. Staropoli, who hails from Yardley, also has a pair of pitching wins and Birch is 2-1 on the mound including the ‘birds’ 3-1 opening loss to Christopher Dock.
“He pitched great; we just didn’t score enough runs for him,” said McCrane.
Since the opening loss to the Pioneers, Ghost has won eight straight, all against league foes.
McCrane recently committed to the University of Sciences, in Philadelphia. Birch is also getting some serious looks from college scouts and should be committed to an NCAA program by the end of the season, says Rossomando.
Offensive leaders for HGP include junior Sean Kerrigan, who is hitting over .500 and freshman Jared Minnichbach, who is hitting over .400.
Minnichbach and junior Jared Septor are from Langhorne, sophomore Drew Smiley is from Washington Crossing, and catcher Mark Seibert, a junior, hails from Yardley.
TOP PHOTO: Archbishop Wood catcher J.R. Gifford puts the tag on Holy Ghost Prep starting pitcher John McCrane in sixth inning of the Firebirds’ 2-2 tie with the Vikings April 22 at HGP’s Ted Grabowski Field, Cornwells Heights, Pa. (PHOTO COURTESY TERI SEIBERT/21st-CENTURY MEDIA)
Holy Ghost Prep 2, Archbishop Wood 2
(April 22 at HGP)
Holy Ghost Prep 001 100 0 – 2 2 2
Archbishop Wood 000 020 0 – 2 5 2
MULTIPLE HITS: AW – Mike Ferrara 2-for-3; HGP – none.
EXTRA-BASE HITS: AW – Ferrara 2B; HGP – Peyton Birch HR.