Rotelli's Ninth Inning 2-Run Double Wins It For Lancers
By Mike Ready
RED BANK – Senior slugger Joe Rotelli’s 2-run double in the top of the ninth inning and junior pitcher Dan Schirmacher’s 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief led St. John Vianney to an extra inning 3-1 victory over Class A Central arch-rival Red Bank Catholic, Thursday at Count Basie Field.
Schirmacher won his second game of the season in relief of starting pitcher Justin Chin (4-0), who was pitching on short rest. Chin held the Caseys (9-3, 7-3), ranked ninth in the Shore Conference, to one run on six hits and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings of work.
Chin left a man on second with one out in the bottom of the fourth for Schirmacher, who promptly retired the side on a 4-3 ground out and a strike out.
The righty was perfect the rest of the way, setting down the side in order in the fifth through ninth innings, including a game ending strike out of Casey third baseman Matt Kurdewan.
Relying on a wicked sinking fastball, Schirmacher induced 11 ground-ball outs out of the 17 consecutive batters he faced. He struck out four and did not allow a hit or a walk.
“Dan was phenomenal, phenomenal, you can’t ask for anything more from a junior that went out there and did his job the way he’s supposed too,” Lancers coach Mike Morgan said. “The last couple of games he’s been unbelievable, he blanked a very good Washington Township team for five innings his last outing; when he’s ready, he’s ready.”
“This win was big for us, basically it’s for first place in the division,” Schirmacher said. “Justin was pitching on short rest and he got a little tired, so I got the call and did my job. Both my fastball and curveball were working today, I didn’t need anything else. I pitch to contact and my fastball had them hitting it on the ground allowing my defense to make the plays behind me; they’ve been there for me every game.”
The Lancers game-winning rally began with two outs in the top of the ninth and the score tied at one. Catcher Anthony Santoro hit a hard grounder in the hole that Casey shortstop Evan Madigan made a nice play on, but his throw to the bag was just late putting Santoro at first.
Right fielder Evan Pietronico walked to put runners on first and second before Rotelli laced a first-pitch fastball off the top of the fence at the 365-foot mark for a dramatic 2-run double and a 3-1 lead. Rotelli finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI’s and a walk.
“I was looking first-pitch fastball all the way,” Rotelli said. “After my last at bat I thought he (RBC reliever Jack Ipsen) might’ve come back with an off-speed pitch, but he threw me the fastball and I didn’t miss it. This game was huge and I couldn’t have done without my teammates; Schirmacher and Chin were great.”
“Huge game for Joe, he was in a little bit of a slump,” Morgan said. “I’m so glad to see him break out of it, he really stepped up today and I’m very proud of him.”
Saint John Vianney (7-4, 7-2), ranked seventh in the Shore Conference, tied the game off starter Al Molina (7 IP, 6 H, 8 K, 5 BB) in the top of the sixth. Santoro drilled a one-out pitch off the wall in right field and Pietronico brought him home with a two-bagger over the head of Casey left fielder Tom Merlo.
The Lancers threatened in the eighth but came away empty handed. Rotelli led off with a booming shot into dead centerfield that looked like a sure home run but instead short-hopped over the wall at the 400-foot mark for a ground rule double.
Shortstop Chris Morris was hit by a pitch and after Anthony LaVigne struck out, second baseman Drew Fisher dropped a single into short-left center to load the bases. Pinch hitter Ciaran Devenney then lined into a deflating inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
However, even with the momentum now on their side the Caseys bats were helpless against Schirmacher, as he mowed down one batter after another until the final strikeout of the game sealed the win for the Lancers.
“It was a good win for the team,” Morgan said. “But we still have a lot of work ahead of us; we’re still not even out of April yet.”