Few things are more exciting for a high school baseball player than to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the last inning.
Wednesday, that opportunity came to Archbishop Curley's Andrew Shinnick, who couldn't wait to take his swings against hard-throwing C. Milton Wright reliever Steve Rappe in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and two strikes, the senior catcher unloaded a double that drove in both the tying and winning runs in a 5-4 victory.
"I was pretty excited," Shinnick said. "They had brought in a pitcher that was throwing harder than their starter, and I'm used to harder-throwing pitchers. In the MIAA [Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association], we see pitchers who throw in the 80s to mid-80s every day. When you see that every day, it's easier to see the speed. I just waited for a fastball I liked and hit it."
No. 9 C. Milton Wright opened the first inning with a two-run home run by Ryan Katelan, then added runs by Kevin Adams and Katelan in the third and fourth innings, respectively, to take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Junior right-hander Jake Labe scattered five hits over six innings for the Mustangs before giving way to Rappe in the seventh.
"Jake threw a tremendous game," Mustangs coach Joe Stetka said. "But he'd reached his pitch count and his velocity was letting up. Steve throws a little harder."
Unbeknown to Stetka, the hard-throwing pitcher was just what Curley (9-3) wanted. A Rick Warble walk, a single by senior Nick Schafer and a bunt single by sophomore Vince Bonn loaded the bases for the Friars.
There was one out when sophomore Zach Ridgely hit a bouncer in the infield. Rappe fielded the ball and threw to senior catcher Connor Hawes at the plate. Both thought they had the out, but the umpire called Warble safe, pulling Curley within 4-3 and bringing Shinnick to the plate.
"My heel was right on the plate, I could feel it," Hawes said. "When he [Rappe] threw it, my heel might have come up, but I don't think so. The umpire was right behind me and would have had a better view if he'd been on the other side. It hurts to lose like that."
C. Milton Wright's record dropped to 4-2, but Stetka said he wasn't worried about the loss.
"That's just the game of baseball," he said. "It was good for us. It will create fire in our belly. Curley is a well-coached team that is dangerous at the plate. We've got to learn from it."