St. Joe's wins pitcher's duel with Bosco
Nick Wolyniec finds no shame in admitting to a sense of fear. In fact, he surrenders to it, knowing it comes with the territory of being a closer, so why not embrace the sense, channel it through a fastball and use it to his advantage?
How well the senior right-hander has mastered the precariousness of the situations he inherits was a primary reason St. Joseph coach Frank Salvano summoned Wolyniec to relieve ace Rob Kaminsky with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Don Bosco Prep in the midst of resourcefully building a rally.
“This was by far the most important time I’ve ever pitched in my life,” Wolyniec said. “It was definitely scary. But, that’s the whole thing about being a closer. You have to put it behind you, forget about the crowd cheering against you. Get your work in and put the strikes over the plate.”
Wolyniec makes it sound so basic, almost as basic as the way he coolly defused the uprising to help St. Joseph escape unscathed. He wrapped up his task in similar fashion, recording a pair of strikeouts in the seventh to complete his part of a terrific pitching duel that the Green Knights, No. 5 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15, staved off No. 1 Don Bosco Prep for a satisfying 2-0 triumph on Wednesday before a large, boisterous audience in Ramsey.
The matchup featured two of the state’s premier hurlers in Kaminsky, a junior left-hander, and Don Bosco starter Tommy Burns and neither disappointed. The two were authoritative on the mound, conceding no ground while operating against batting orders that offered no breathers.
Kaminsky (1-0) allowed just one hit – a leadoff single by senior Mike Mecca in the bottom of the first – and walked six while striking out nine behind a fastball that sat in the low 90s and a power curveball that was downright unfair.
Burns (0-1) countered by going the distance on a four-hitter that featured seven strikeouts against three walks.
But, it was Polyniec, whose tenacity in the face of mounting danger that drew the adulation of his staff’s ace.
“Giving the ball to Nick Wolyniec, knowing he was going to pick up the win, I had all the confidence in the world,” said Kaminsky. “He picked me up today. I can honestly say I didn’t have a worry in the world. I’ve seen Woly do it before.”
Trailing, 2-0, in the sixth, Don Bosco (1-2) got a one-out walk by senior George Iskendarian and Andrew Herrara hustled to first on a dropped third strike, prompting Kaminsky’s exit in favor of Wolyniec. After issuing a walk that loaded the bases, Wolyniec rebounded with a strikeout before inducing an inning-ending fielder’s choice ground out to extinguish the rally.
“That one-out, two-men-on moment where the game is on the line, that’s what I live for,” Wolyniec said. “That’s when I do my best pitching.”
St. Joseph (2-0) got Kaminsky and Wolyniec all the run the support they’d need in the top of the first. Chris Chiaradio drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice by Wolyniec. One batter later, senior first baseman Corey Lerche, who is heading to Maine, unloaded an RBI double for a 1-0 lead.
“We didn’t know what to expect coming into this game,” Lerche said. “We knew we were going to be in it, but once I got that hit, everyone was fired up, ready to go and come out strong.”
St. Joseph tacked on another run in the second when junior Ryan Rivera took third on a passed ball and raced home on an errant attempt to pick him off at the bag.
“Getting a run off Burns is hard,” Lerche said. “He’s a great pitcher. We were lucky enough to get two.”
Salvano had equal praise for his own ace.
“With Rob Kaminsky on the mound, we can play with anybody in the state,” Salvano said. “And, I think we have one of the top closers, too. We are a very confident group when we have our No. 1 starter and our closer on the mound. Our kids played a great game.”
Kaminsky and Wolyniec combined on a two-hitter and a dozen strikeouts.
No. 2 Jackson 12, Toms River South 1: Senior shortstop Joe Ogren finished 5-for-5 with two doubles and a two-run homer in support of senior Brandon Holup, who threw six solid innings of three-hit ball with six strikeouts for Jackson (2-0). Matt Thaiss went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in the triumph.
No. 4 Millburn 11, West Orange 3: Junior Ian Riddell struck out seven and scattered five hits over six innings and went 2-for-4 with an RBI to aid his victorious cause for Millburn (2-0). Sophomore Ivy Ruibal finished 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI.
No. 11 Middlesex 11, Ridge 0: Junior Tommy Marcinczyk fired a four-hitter and added two hits and a pair of RBI to fuel Middlesex (2-0). Chris Petiya launched a two-run homer as part of a four-RBI performance and A.J. Vischetti added a three-run blast.
No. 12 Wall 10, Lakewood 0: Tyler Block and Scott Duncan collected three hits apiece while Mitchell Preston, Chaz Salvo and Duncan each knocked in two runs to back winning pitcher Matt Osgoodby for Wall (2-0), who fanned four over four innings.
Freehold Township 2, Middletown North 0: Junior right-hander Steve Ginter spun a complete-game shutout that featured seven strikeouts for Freehold Township (1-2). Josh Lodi contributed a run-scoring double.
Manasquan 10, Point Pleasant Boro 9: Jimmy Walsh punctuated a six-run sixth with a grand slam to stake Manasquan (2-0) to a 10-6 advantage.
Jackson Liberty 8, Msgr. Donovan 3: Ariel Rivera was 4-for-4, Brendan Benecke added three hits and Angel Garced belted a two-run homer to back winning pitcher Vin Sica for Jackson Liberty (1-1).
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner