After seven innings of shutout baseball for both squads, St. John the Baptist’s Nick LaSala wasn’t going to end the game himself, but it was his responsibility to get the offense started.
“I had to have a team at-bat and work my way on,” said LaSala, who led off the top of the eighth inning for the Cougars. “I was going to be the winning run if I got on, so I knew I just had to work it some way.”
LaSala ripped a double to left-centerfield. Four batters later, he scored on Logan O’Hoppe’s shot to deep centerfield, which was dropped for an error but scored a sacrifice fly. The Cougars scored two runs on the play and two more in the inning to defeat Chaminade, 4-0, at Cantiague Park in Hicksville in a CHSAA matchup Friday.
“That definitely felt great,” LaSala said. “I knew I was going to get on somehow.”
Kevin Dolan was intentionally walked and Dan Favicchio singled to load the bases before O’Hoppe’s drive. O’Hoppe knew off the bat he’d drive in at least the game’s first run.
“As soon as it went off,” O’Hoppe said, “I knew a run was going to score. It’s always great to put us ahead.”
After O’Hoppe’s drive, James Kibitel walked before Damon DeMicco’s RBI single gave the Cougars (8-5) a 3-0 lead. Tyler White drove in the inning’s final run with a sacrifice fly to complete the three-game sweep over defending league champion Chaminade, with two of the games going into extra innings.
“We knew how to stay strong in extra innings when we were tired and down,” O’Hoppe said. “We stayed up.”
St. John the Baptist pitcher Kevin Czeczotka tossed six innings, allowing six hits and three walks. Recording only one strikeout, Czeczotka relied on his defense.
“I knew my teammates had my back,” Czeczotka said, “and I just threw strikes and let them hit the ball and they got it.”
Thomas Ekbom finished the game with two hitless innings in getting the win.
The Cougars recovered from being swept in a three-game series by first-place Kellenberg in a very competitive CHSAA last week.
Athletic director Ralph Dalton said it was the first time in his 29 years at the school that he remembers St. John the Baptist sweeping Chaminade (5-5) and St. Anthony’s in the same season.
“It was definitely a great way to bounce back after the last series against Kellenberg,” LaSala said, “so I think we’re right back on track now.”
Justin DiDonato allowed four hits with five walks in six innings for the Flyers.
“Great team win,” O’Hoppe said. “I can’t ask for anything better. These guys come together so greatly and it’s been a really good season so far.”