RALEIGH — Solid pitching and lots of production from the heart of its batting order helped Cardinal Gibbons’ baseball team pull off a 5-2 win against Green Hope in the season opener on Wednesday.
Senior pitcher John Kelly was the opening day starter for the Crusaders and he went three innings, giving up just one run.
Going up against a Green Hope lineup jam-packed with talent such as junior third baseman Vincent Addona, senior shortstop Stephen Pitarra and senior catcher Thomas Yoder, Kelly had a fairly difficult task at hand.
But Kelly said that he is familiar with most of those guys, and that was to his advantage.
“I played with all those guys over the summer, so I knew what they liked and I knew what they didn’t like. So I tried to stay with what I had,” said Kelly.
Gibbons head coach Jim Liebler said that the only reason that Kelly didn’t go longer into the game was because it was the southpaw’s first outing of the season.
Gibbons wasted no time getting runs past home plate as the Crusaders put two on the board in the bottom of the first inning against Green Hope sophomore pitcher Chris Joyner.
With runners on first and second base, Gibbons senior shortstop Daniel Pedersen singled to right field which scored freshman second baseman Noah Campbell.
Later in the inning, Gibbons senior Stephen Scott went from third base to home plate while Pedersen was caught in the middle of a rundown between first and second base.
The trio of Campbell, Scott and Pedersen, Gibbons’ 2-3-4 spots in the batting order, reached base eight out of nine plate appearances collectively.
“They’re all good ball players. They’re in that part of the lineup for a reason. When you put guys in those spots, you’re hoping for production. So when they produce, that’s what you expect. If those guys can hit in the middle, it just makes us that much tougher,” said Liebler.
Green Hope was able to string together a few hits in the third inning and Addona scored from third base on a single by Pitarra.
Addona had an excellent day at the plate compared to the rest of his teammates as he went 3-for-4 with a double and two singles.
“I was able to get my timing right and I was seeing the ball very well. I could easily recognize what pitch was being thrown and I was able to hit in predictable counts so I felt more confident when swinging,” said Addona in a text message.
However, Green Hope didn’t get another run until the seventh inning and Gibbons distanced itself with another RBI single by Pedersen in the third inning and a two-run home run by Scott in the fifth inning off Green Hope junior pitcher Troy Maslowski.
“Every time (Scott) takes the bat off of his shoulders, you expect something big to happen. He’s super patient, so he doesn’t give away at-bats. The kid’s got incredible power,” said Liebler.
Gibbons sophomore pitcher Daniel Haberern pitched three scoreless innings in relief for the Crusaders before Green Hope added one more run in the final inning against sophomore pitcher Paul Todd.
According to Addona, Green Hope needs to be more consistent at the plate and avoid strikeouts in future games.
“We need to be able to bounce back from this and not keep our heads down. Hitting-wise we need to string together a few more hits in order to score runs and try to eliminate strikeouts,” said Addona.