Hit parade: Iona blasts Moore Catholic 9-1
As he stood outside the dugout watching Moore Catholic hurler Shea Spitzbarth warm up, Pat DeCea thought Iona Prep’s opener of the CHSAA Class AA championship series could be a pitchers duel.
It was a common belief at Kaiser Stadium, especially with both teams throwing their aces.
“I was watching him warm up and he looked really good, had a good curveball, a live fastball,” DeCea said. “I’m really proud of my team that we beat them by a couple of runs.”
It was more than a couple of runs, as the Gaels defeated the Mavericks, 9-1, at St. John’s University Wednesday afternoon.
Sixth-seeded Iona Prep (15-6) advances to play No. 2 St. Raymond Thursday afternoon at Fordham University in the winners bracket of the double-elimination tournament. Moore (13-4) meets seventh-seeded Archbishop Molloy in the losers bracket at St. John’s Thursday.
Run support hasn’t been common for Tim McCarthy, but the lanky lefty received plenty of it Wednesday as the Gaels broke open a tight game with a five-run fifth inning.
“I pitched in a couple of close games so to see nine runs up on the board kind of feels good. I was nice and loose,” McCarthy said.
The Temple-bound senior pitched six shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out four with just one walk. Early, McCarthy said, he was able to locate his fastball. When he lost some velocity late, McCarthy threw his curveball for strikes, resulting in several groundball outs.
“In the first inning I had a little trouble getting ahead of the batters,” McCarthy said. “But the second inning and on I seemed to throw my off-speed for strikes and kept the ball low.”
DeCea, who struck out in his first at-bat, broke a scoreless tie with a two-out single to left in the third inning. He took that confidence into his next plate appearance when the left fielder crushed a two-run double to right in the offensive explosion that was the fifth inning.
“It was a real big hit for me,” DeCea said. “I just tried to hit the baseball hard somewhere, put it in play and good things happen. Coming off a strikeout in the first at-bat so I just wanted to make contact.”
Sam Garito followed with a two-run single to center and Iona College-bound shortstop Vinny DeMaria had the big hit in the sixth, a two-run single to left, as the Gaels tacked on three more runs to take a 9-0 lead.
“Hitting hasn’t been the greatest as expected, but we came through today and that’s all that matters in the playoffs,” DeCea said.
The win was Iona Prep’s third straight since losing to Fordham Prep, 9-1, in a tiebreaker for the Bronx/Westchester division title Friday. Coming into the season, there were high expectations for Iona Prep. The Gaels might be reaching their potential at the best possible time.
“We’re getting on a role, bats have been good, pitching has been good and the defense has been there,” DeCea said. “That’s what you need in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Moore, which won its first Staten Island title since 2008, now has to stave off elimination against Molloy.
“Like I said all year, my pitching will keep me in every game, but my hitting will keep the other team in every game,” Moore coach Nick Doscher said. “Honestly, I don’t know how they’re going to respond to this.”
Doscher said Spitzbarth, who was pulled in the fifth, deserved a better fate and he was encouraged by the return of Matt Kostalos, the preseason ace who had ACL surgery three months ago.
“If I eight Kostalos or eight Spitzbarths, I think the conversation would be different,” Doscher said.
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