Noah Lorenzo started the season pitching for the junior varsity. Yesterday, he found himself standing on the bump at Farmingdale State College pitching for St. John the Baptist in the CHSAA championship game.
The crafty lefthanded sophomore pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts, including the final batter with the tying run on second base to seal an exciting 2-1 win for the Cougars over top-seeded Chaminade in the first game of the best-of-three series.
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Lorenzo's final pitch came on a full-count sinking changeup that Ryan Hennessy swung through. It was the kind of pitch experienced players throw in pressure situations.
"I have command of the changeup and I'm confident to throw it in any count," Lorenzo said. "Coach Habes [John Habyan] and I have worked a lot on it."
The teams will play Game 2 at 10 a.m. today at Farmingdale State College. If Chaminade wins to tie the series, then Game 3 will follow.
Trailing 2-1, Chaminade's Kyle Lynch singled and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Straton Podaras in the bottom of the seventh. That's when Lorenzo went to work. He struck out Mike Cavallaro for the second out before getting Hennessey on the nasty change.
"I didn't sleep at all last night, just kept pacing," Lorenzo said. "And the nerves didn't go away until the third inning."
Lorenzo escaped a second-and-third, no-out situation in the first. Leadoff man Billy Maughan walked and went to third on Dan Kerning's single. The throw to third allowed Kerning to advance to second, but Lorenzo induced three straight pop-ups to escape the jam.
"We lost a big chance in the first inning to set the tone and take the lead," said Chaminade coach Mike Pienkos. "We had to score right there and we couldn't get a ground ball. He really pitched a great game."
St. John the Baptist (17-5) opened the scoring against hard-throwing righty Brendan Spagnuolo in the top of the fourth inning. Tom Archer singled and moved to second on a Tom Columbo sacrifice bunt. William Giramante singled and Andrew Ferrante was hit by a pitch to load the bases. SJB's Ryan Dalton laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Archer for the 1-0 lead.
Lorenzo rolled through the middle innings, retiring 13 of 14 hitters in workmanlike fashion.
The Cougars added an insurance run in the fifth inning when Kevin Dolan singled, stole second and scored when Pat Lagravinese drilled an RBI-single the opposite way down the leftfield line for the 2-0 lead.
"I've had quality at-bats against him and I wanted to be aggressive," Lagravinese said. "His ball was tailing away from me and hitting his spots. So I just went the other way."
Lorenzo's scoreless streak of 27 consecutive innings came to an end when the Flyers scored a run in the sixth. Luke Zeccola hustled out a two-out double to left-centerfield and Brian Goulard lifted a bloop RBI single to left to make it 2-1.
"As long as we won, I'm good, real good," Lorenzo said with a laugh. "I thought I might be a bullpen guy this season. And look where I am."