Saint John Paul Remains Perfect With Win Over Spanish River
The Saint John Paul Eagles and Spanish River Sharks came into Wednesday nights game both claiming perfect records so far on the young season. The teams had combined for 48 runs through their first four games. With both offenses in rhythm, something would have to give.
The Eagles picked up right where they left off in the first two games, scoring six runs in the first two innings and then cruising to a 10-3 win to up their perfect record to 3-0.
“It is still very early in the season,” said Eagles Manager Pete Graffeo. “But so far I really like what I see out of the offense. We have some really strong senior leadership, and it is trickling down to everyone on the team.”
Part of that senior leadership is the duo of Braden Forchic and Jack Hay. After Christian Larson and Luke Rivera started the game with back-to-back doubles, Forchic hit a two-run home run to make the score 3-0. Hay then followed with a back-to-back shot.
“We are all seeing the ball real well right now,” said Hay, who has shown his long ball prowess before, finishing second in the HSBN All-American Weekend Home Run Derby last Fall. “When one of us gets going, then it seems to snowball throughout the lineup, and that has been what’s happening with us the first few games of the season.”
Forchic continued the offensive assault in the second inning by just missing his second home run of the game. The deep drive went for an RBI double.
“It’s fun when we are all swinging like we have been,” said Forchic. “I was seeing the ball well and those first two at-bats I just got pitches I could put good swings on.”
While the offense has been rolling for the Eagles, the team had given up 17 runs in two games coming into this one. That trend looked to continue in the first, when the Sharks fought back with three runs of their own.
A Jorel Ortega hit-by-pitch, a Brady Strelitz single, and a pair of errors helped trim the leadf to 4-3.
“I thought we responded well after giving up four runs in the first,” said Spanish River Manager Bill Harvey. “The first four batters of the game scored, so that is always difficult to overcome. But we did a good job of responding.”
From there, St. John Paul received one of the most unlikeliest of pitching performances. Vinnie Carignan took over in the second, and went the distance, allowing no runs over six innings of work.
“Vin was great tonight,” said Graffeo. “Him throwing six innings certainly wasn’t what we had planned. We were prepared to throw guys a couple innings each tonight, but he came in and just kept getting outs.”
The Eagles would tack on another run in the fourth, and three more in the seventh before closing down the win.
With the win the Eagles will now turn their attention towards three straight district games. They start the three game gauntlet at Kings Academy, before hosting American Heritage and Benjamin, the two favorites in the district coming into the season.
“Our district is always very competitive and the games are always tight,” said Graffeo. “The records don’t mean anything once district play starts. I like where we are right now, and we will learn more about ourselves in the next couple of weeks.”
One thing seems certain with this group of Eagles. They are all on the same page. Throughout the game, players were communicating about their at-bats and defensive alignment. It is a chemistry that the team knew existed back in the Fall.
“We have such great senior leadership, and I saw when we started in the Fall that this was going to be a team that had each other’s backs and played together,” said Graffeo.
“It is up to us to help the underclassmen, not only on the field, but also in the classroom. Making sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and learning what we can teach them by our example.”
As for Spanish River, Harvey also understands that the season is long, and that his team has time to work out the kinks. The Sharks play six games before they play their first district game.
“Coming into the year, you don’t know who the players are you can rely on,” said Harvey. “Having six or eight games before we play in district gives us the ability to put guys out there and see how they respond to different situations.”