Chaminade’s Aidan Larkin found himself in a very big situation on Wednesday evening. He and the Flyers were locked in a tie game with St. John the Baptist in the bottom of the seventh. It was his turn at the plate with the two on and one out. He reduced a pressure-packed moment to its simplest element.
“I just slowed it down and reminded myself that the pitcher is the one in trouble right there,” the shortstop said. “He needs an out and I’m not swinging at his pitch.”
But Larkin got the pitch he wanted and drove a high fastball that made the leftfield fence on a bounce to score Paul Orbon from second base, giving Chaminade a 6-5 CHSAA victory at Cantiague Park and keeping the Flyers perfect on the season. Chaminade (6-0, 5-0) goes for a sweep of the season series with SJB (5-3-1, 3-2) Thursday. It already swept three from St. Anthony’s.
“A start like this makes us an intimidating team,” said Orbon, who led off the Flyers’ first with a homer. “Teams will remember this when they see us in the playoffs.”
Chaminade led 2-0 after Aidan Umhafer doubled and scored on an error in the second. Baptist answered with a four-run fifth that included run-scoring singles by Kyle Chase, Matt Lasala and Noah Frasca. The Flyers regained the upper hand with three runs in the bottom of the inning on Anthony Tramonte’s homer to left, Jack Santini’s run-scoring triple down the line in right and an RBI groundout by Logan Koester.
EJ Exposito’s one-out RBI double for Baptist tied it in the sixth, but Chaminade reliever Patrick Cullinan halted things there. He got a ground out and then centerfielder Orbon laid out for a stellar diving catch to end it. Cullinan would also induce an inning-ending double play grounder to finish the SJB seventh, punctuated by Brendan Daly’s brilliant pick at first base.
“Cullinan is what you want in there at the end, a senior who has been through it all and doesn’t rattle,” Flyers coach Mike Pienkos said. “And we play the kind of defense you need to if you’re going to win in our league.”
Pienkos has eight senior starters and is buoyed enough by the hot start to feel the Flyers are a contender. “I am excited,” he said. “We’ve played and won like a team that’s capable of being there at the end.”
Orbon drew a one-out walk in the seventh and stole second before Santini walked to bring up Larkin. Asked to describe the placement of the fastball he hit for the walk-off, Larkin used a single word: “wheelhouse.”
“Off [Larkin’s] bat, I trusted it was over the fielder’s head,” Orbon said. “It was just a matter of watching it touch down and then celebrate.”