JJ Gatti #11, Chaminade pitcher, throws a circle change up...

JJ Gatti #11, Chaminade pitcher, throws a circle change up during Game 2 of the best-of-three CHSAA baseball final against Kellenberg at Hofstra University on Monday, May 30, 2022. He pitched complete game in Chaminade's 8-1 win. The teams split the first two games of the series on Monday and will play the third and deciding game on Tuesday. Credit: James Escher

Save the season.

That was the task given to JJ Gatti. 

Which is exactly what he did.  And by doing so, he gave his Chaminade team a chance to make history.  

“We’ve been envisioning this series ever since [last year],” Gatti said after his complete game led Chaminade to a 8-1 rout of Kellenberg in the second of two games in the NSCHAA best-of-three baseball championship series Monday at University Stadium at Hofstra. Kellenberg had won the day’s first game, 4-3.

The winner-take-all Game 3 is set for Tuesday at Hofstra. Should Chaminade (22-2; 17-2) win, the program will have won three straight league titles and 19 overall. The Flyers won the NSCHAA in 2019 and 2021; the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Trailing 1-0 after losing the day’s first game, Gatti no-hit Kellenberg (17-8, 16-8) for five innings before giving up a single to Steven Hardiman in the sixth.

“I didn’t actually care about the no-hitter,” Gatti said. “I just wanted to get the win and keep the season going.”

Which he did, supported by an offensive outburst which saw the Flyers score seven of their eight runs in the fifth and sixth innings.  

“I think the big blow was when [Nolan Nawrocki] hit the ball off the fence in left-centerfield,” said coach Michael Pienkos of his shortstops’s RBI triple in the fifth which extended the Flyers’ lead to 2-0. “That…really turned us on.”

And it may have been a continuation of an awakening which began in the first game. Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Chaminade rallied with three runs in the frame before Mike Doht induced Evan Baschnagel to fly out to right to end the game. 

Chaminade’s attempted comeback began when Brady Steinert slammed a two-out two-RBI double off of Brendan McCann and Nawrocki followed with a RBI single off of Doht in the bottom of the frame to cut the Firebirds’ lead to 4-3.  

Kellenberg opened the scoring in the first game on Ryan Waserman’s two-out RBI single in the first, and extended its lead to 3-0 in the second when Paul Napolitano drove in Peter Murphy and John Kwiatkowski with a two-out single.

Chaminade starter John Downing settled down afterward, as he struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. But he was bested by Kellenberg starter Ryan Glupe, who threw six shutout innings. 

“We were able to scrap away a few runs,” Kellenberg coach Pat Mills said. “Ryan Glupe pitched a tremendous game, keeping guys off balance.”

For as good as Glupe was, he was aided by his teammates in the field. Specifically Waserman, who threw out Nicholas Ungania at third to end a two-on, two-out Chaminade rally.

Murphy’s RBI single in the top of the seventh for Kellenberg proved to be the game-winner.  

But any chance Kellenberg had to sweep Chaminade likely ended when Koshy, the Game 2 starter, was pulled between the second and third innings. He had been struck by a pitch on his pitching hand while at bat in the bottom of the first. Koshy did pitch the second inning but Mills made the decision to remove him from the game, and  did not have an immediate update on the junior’s condition after the game. 



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