READING >> Twin Valley senior ace AJ Alexy has been garnering a large amount of attention this spring. And why not?
With a crossfire fastball capable of reaching 94 miles per hour, a slider sitting in the low 80s and a knee-buckling curveball, Alexy is drawing attention from scouts -- two of whom were in attendance Monday afternoon as the Raiders traveled to Berks Catholic to take on the Saints in a key Berks League Section 2 matchup.
But Alexy can only do so much from his position on the mound. The Raiders could use more offense in support of him.
This was in evidence in Monday's game against the Saints. Twin Valley staked Alexy to a narrow early lead in the top of the first inning, but Raider bats went silent and Berks Catholic rallied for a 2-1 victory in nine innings, thanks to a two-out infield error that scored Trevor Leamer with the game-ender.
Berks Catholic moved out to a section-leading 4-0 in Berks 2 and 9-2 overall, with another big game looming at Hamburg on Tuesday. Twin Valley fell to 7-2, 2-2.
Alexy allowed just two hits and struck out 10 while walking two in seven innings of work. But after a promising start, Twin Valley was held hitless by Berks Catholic starter Nick Dinnocenti and reliever DJ Katella after the fourth inning.
"Simple, we need to score more runs," Twin Valley head coach Chad Walters said. "All year our pitchers have been battling. We had only given up nine runs coming into this game all year. Our approach at the plate right now is not good. ... We can't expect AJ and Zach (Rice) to go and throw like this every night. You've gotta help 'em out a little bit."
At the other end, the opportunistic Saints scratched across a tying run in the bottom of the fifth, when Alexy had his only control burp of the outing. David Jones came through with a huge two-on, two-out base hit in the hole between first and second to score pinch-runner Alex Heintz. Heintz had entered the game when Matt DeMarco took a curveball that didn't break off his helmet. He was fine, but was removed for precautionary reasons.
Heintz moved to second and then third on a pair of wild pitches before scampering home on Jones' tying knock.
"That's a sophomore kid who gets that hit," BC head coach Tom Frees said of Jones. "We're very young. But they're so young, they don't fear. We saw (AJ) twice last year, so we knew what to expect. What we wanted to do was sit on his fastball and not have him work us over. In the beginning, we were allowing that first-pitch fastball for a strike and he was working us a bit with his curveball. A little later, we were more disciplined. We were sitting on the curveball and taking the fastball to right (field)."
Alexy ended the frame with a punch out, and pitched the next two innings before calling it a day after seven. He was relieved by Rice.
Dinnocenti, more quietly, kept TV in check and ended up going eight frames before giving way to Katella for the ninth. BC's starter walked four and struck four, giving up four hits in his eight frames.
"Nick's not gonna overpower people but he keeps the ball down," Frees said. "Keep 'em off balance and keep it down. He has a pitcher's heart. He wants the ball and he wants to battle. And when you have that, your mindset is in the right place."
Berks Catholic won the game when Leamer led off with a single, moved around the horn on a sac bunt and a groundout, then crossed the plate when a third straight ground ball -- this one off the bat of Adam Dempsey -- was thrown offline to first base for what would have been the final out of the ninth.
"Our kid was busting it down the line and I think (the throw) was rushed just a little bit," Fees said. "Now, we've got to go to Hamburg for another tough one."
Twin Valley took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Colin Hartey's triple, which scored Mitch Carsley, who had reached on a two-out error. Behind Alexy's power pitching, it held up until Jones' heroics five innings later.
Berks Catholic 2, Twin Valley 1 (9 innings)
Twin Valley - 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 1 4 2
Berks Catholic - 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 -- 2 3 1
WP: DJ Katella LP: Zach Rice
3B: TV, Hartey