SPRINGFIELD >> Momentum was everything for the La Salle baseball team Wednesday afternoon.
The Explorers grabbed it in the first inning and never let go.
Pitcher Joe Miller had a perfect top of the first with three strikeouts to kick-start a 12-2 win in five innings over Cardinal O’Hara at La Salle College High School’s Ward Field with first place in the Philadelphia Catholic League on the line.
After Miller’s hot start, the Explorers offense responded with two runs on an Owen Lawn two-run single.
“That’s how the game always works,” La Salle coach Kyle Werman said. “We talk a lot about momentum. When you can get off the field in 15 pitches or less, your offense has a chance to roll. When you can keep them on the field for a long time, you’re going to score runs.”
Miller didn’t miss a beat for the next two innings. He remained perfect through three innings with nine strikeouts.
“He’s got that ability,” Werman said of Miller’s sizzling hot start. “He had extra life in his ball today. Maybe it was the three-and-a-half hour physics exam he took before this game … maybe a little pent up aggression coming out. It was really good to see him command the zone with multiple pitches and he needs to continue to do that.”
The Explorers bats followed with strong performances each inning.
Anthony Cossetti had a sacrifice fly in the second inning to make it 3-0 and his two-out, three-run double in the third gave La Salle a commanding 8-0 edge.
“It hypes everyone up when (Miller) goes 1-2-3 three innings in a row,” Cossetti said. “We get all hyped in the dugout and everybody likes to keep feeding momentum to the team basically. When it comes down to it, we do what needs to be done and get hits.
“As a team during practice we take care of business. One thing in particular is we have live at-bats every single practice. We have the ability to hit good pitching because we see good pitching pretty much every single day.”
Brian Schaub added a sacrifice fly in the third and Joe Sotrino had an RBI single.
Miller lost his perfect game and no hitter with no outs in the fourth inning. He finished with nine strikeouts to two walks, two hits and two runs in four innings.
Schaub and Matt Acker each had an RBI in the bottom of the fourth inning while Andrew Cossetti had a two-run double to extend the lead to 10, 12-2.
Joe Rossi came on to pitch the top of the fifth inning to close out the mercy-rule win.
La Salle sits alone in first place in the Catholic League with a 10-1 record with one game remaining against Archbishop Wood Monday.
“When you go into the tournament, you like to have the one or the two seed to be able to have homefield, have a game in front of you and play one of those play-in teams,” Werman said. “You play them one at a time … but this league is so good. There are four or five teams always at the top that are together and there’s not much separation. You just try to play and compete and see what happens. We’ll have a chance on Monday.”
O’Hara’s Dan Hopkins hit a two-run double to put the Lions on the board.
O’Hara’s PCL regular season ends at 9-3.
“(La Salle) put the ball in play,” O’Hara coach Tom Grandieri said. “You can see when you execute the little things they can end up being pretty big things. I thought they did an awesome job of doing the little things early and then when they got the opportunity to swing away they did some damage. Obviously striking out the first nine guys of the game helps the cause there. Just one of those days — an away game, end of the season, we just didn’t put together our best effort today.”
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