LANCASTER >> For Eric Marasheski and his teammates, every moment is precious.
The La Salle senior shortstop has already graduated, so the only time he has left with his teammates is the time they spend practicing, driving to and from fields and playing games. They have at most a week left together, but baseball is a game that guarantees nothing so the Explorers are doing all they can to earn more time together.
La Salle did that emphatically on Thursday, hammering out nine two-out runs in the bottom of the first inning and just kept going as they clobbered Red Lion 13-0 in five innings at Manheim Twp in their PIAA 6A baseball quarterfinal game.
“There’s something different with this team, I have fun all the time with these guys,” Marasheski said. “Even if I’m not hitting well or not fielding well, they’re always picking me up. We’re always laughing. It’s just constant joking around, in the dugout, we’re just busting on each other. The hardest part of the season ending is not getting to be with this group of teammates anymore but every second we have right now, we’re all enjoying it.”
Marasheski was one of three Explorers to hit a two-run homerun, with his third inning shot giving him possession of the team’s Home Run Hammer and putting the run rule into play. The senior, a Harleysville resident and Princeton recruit, walked his first time up, then hit a triple in his second at-bat in the first inning.
A switch-hitter, Marasheski normally likes to stick to one side of the plate but after belting the triple lefty, switched sides of the plate against Red Lion reliever Tyler Stabley. The choice worked out as he put the first pitch over the fence in left-center to bring his RBI total to a team-best four on the day.
“I wanted to stay in the middle of the field because the gaps were pretty big and I was pretty lucky to squeak that one out,” Marasheski said. “Being righty helped because when you drop down low as a lefty hitter, it’s hard to get that angle. I just wanted to attack early, got a first-pitch fast ball and just stay in the middle of the field.
“All season, when I’ve gotten the hammer, someone always takes it, usually in the same inning. It’s good to have it now but you want your teammates to hit home runs so I’m looking forward to seeing who that next person is.”
The first inning was textbook La Salle offensively, even if all the damage came with two outs. Explorers coach Kyle Werman knew they were facing a good arm in CJ Czerwinski and when two of the first three batters made outs, Werman was ready for a tough battle.
Instead, senior Brian Schaub worked out of a 1-2 hole to a full count, then cranked Czerwinski’s next pitch over the left field fence for a two-run homer and a big shot of adrenaline to the La Salle bench. Owen Lawn hit an RBI single, Joe Sortino singled in two runs and Marasheski’s triple plated a pair of runners to run the lead up to 7-0.
La Salle No. 2 hitter Andrew Cossetti ended the scoring with a two-run shot that clanged off the scoreboard in left center, making for a really good denting the scoreboard metaphor.
“It takes somebody stepping up to have a good at-bat, you saw that out of Brian Schaub and that kind of ignited things,” Werman said. “I told the guys that’s what I was really proud of. You talk about competing and battling then you get two quick outs and suddenly it feels like it’s going to be that type of game, then you battle, get a two-strike, two-out home run and you roll.”
Red Lion, the District 3 runner-up, relied mostly on its pitching and timely hitting throughout the season. Marasheski said the Explorers were mindful of that and knew any early runs would be huge. He wasn’t expecting a nine-spot, but the shortstop knew that type of lead was going to greatly aid pitcher Gavin Moretski.
Moretski, who closed out Monday’s win over Conestoga in the first round, threw very well in his four innings of work on Thursday. The junior righty struck out three, allowed three hits and most importantly, found ways to work ahead and record big outs.
“I knew I had to keep all three of my pitches in the zone and trust my defense behind me like I have been doing all year and hope it leads me to success, which has been working well so far,” Moretski said. “The big thing today was first-pitch strikes, just pound the zone right away and try to punch them in the face and get ahead.”
Moretski, a Hatfield resident, called the two double plays momentum changers and also felt Monday’s appearance let him come out more comfortable on Thursday.
“First pitch strike is the only thing on my mind right now, it’s get that and go from there,” Moretski said. “In the beginning of the year, I had trouble locating my pitches a little bit but it’s gotten better over the year and right now, it’s all about throwing that first-pitch strike.”
Reserves Kyle O’Connor and Luke Radaszewski each added RBI singles in the fourth inning for the Explorers.
La Salle will face District I champion Bensalem in the state semifinals on Monday at a site and place to be announced. The Owls, who beat Williamsport 6-0, present a formidable challenge starting with their tandem of aces in Nick Dean and Stephen Aldrich.
“We’re going to have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Marasheski said. “In states, you face every team’s ace and we’ve proven we can hit those type of arms. We have to stick with our approach and get runners on. I know Aldrich and Dean through travel ball and they both have good stuff and it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to it.”
RED LION 000 00 – 0 4 2
LA SALLE 902 2x – 13 14 0
WP: Gavin Moretski. LP: CJ Czerwinski. HR: L – Andrew Cossetti, Brian Schaub, Eric Marasheski. 3B: L – Eric Marasheski. 2B: L – Anthony Cossetti, Andrew Cossetti
Multiple hits: L – Eric Marasheski 2-2, Andrew Cossetti 2-3