John Downing #9, Chaminade left-handed pitcher, delivers to the plate...

John Downing #9, Chaminade left-handed pitcher, delivers to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning of a Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA baseball game against host St. Anthony's High School on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.  Credit: James Escher

It was just another day at the office for John Downing.

The 6-3 senior lefthander pitched a three-hit shutout, with one walk and 12 strikeouts in Chaminade’s 5-0 win at St. Anthony’s in CHSAA baseball.

After allowing a single in the first inning, Downing retired 13 batters in a row, relying on his off-speed pitches and repeatedly flashing an untouchable backdoor slider to the Friars’ righthanded hitters.

“I don’t think they’ve ever seen a slider like that before,” Downing said. “I was mixing up my slider, curve and changeup a lot. Later in the game, the curveball is what I was getting a lot of strikeouts with.”

The Seton Hall commit dueled with Jason DeCaro, who carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Chaminade’s bats woke up.

After a leadoff single by Mike Sweeney, Anthony Lods launched a towering flyball to right-centefield that likely would’ve been a home run if there was a fence in that section of the outfield. Instead, the ball finally fell in for a triple to score Sweeney and break the 0-0 tie.

“It felt pretty good off the bat and once I saw it get down, I just tried to leg it out,” Lods said. “I just wish there was a fence here.”

Lods scored on a groundout by Evan Baschnagel to give Chaminade a 2-0 lead.

Downing ran into trouble and faced Fordham commit Jack Vallario with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth. Vallario gave the ball a ride to centerfield, but Baschnagel was right there to end the threat.

“I didn’t want to have to face Vallario with the bases loaded,” Downing said. “But I knew I couldn’t give him a fastball to hit and I mixed it up like I did in his previous two at-bats and it worked.”

Lods was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth and a sacrifice fly by Brady Steinert and double by Nolan Nawrocki in the seventh scored Chaminade’s final three runs.

Downing cruised through the last two innings, striking out five of his last six batters. As the Flyers (15-0, 13-0 CHSAA) look to repeat as NSCHSAA champions, they will continue to rely on Downing to be dominant.

“With John on the mound, if our defense plays well, we’ve always got a real good chance,” coach Mike Pienkos said.

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