Last week, Red Bank Catholic had lost its way at plate and paid for it with two consecutive setbacks. But, granted some time to dissect swings and address the lineup’s overall tendency to become enchanted with pulling pitches, the Caseys are now missing something else: six baseballs.
Cured were the recurring dip-and-jack cuts that can infiltrate a ballclub anxious to flex its collective muscle, replaced by more refined approaches designed to generate line drives to the middle of the park. And, what resurfaced was the intimidating might Red Bank Catholic had been seeking.
“We lost our approach that won us 10 straight games,” Red Bank Catholic coach Buddy Hausmann said. “Part of it was trying to do too much. It wasn’t that we played bad. We just didn’t hit.”
Red Bank Catholic, No. 7 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15, turned Count Basie Park into a launching pad, blasting six home runs, including three straight during an explosive first-inning outburst en route to a dominating 25-3 victory over Neptune in five innings on Tuesday in Red Bank.
The Caseys paraded 16 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and pounded out 11 hits, including a grand slam by No. 9 hitter, senior catcher Joe Keane that was backed by consecutive solo shots from senior centerfielder Andrew LaMura and junior rightfielder Joe Iacobellis. Junior first baseman Ron Robinson, who knocked in two runs with a single, capped the uprising with a three-run homer to left.
Sophomore shortstop Al Molina belted a three-run blast in the second and junior reserve Anthony Yaccarine made his first varsity hit a memorable one with a grand slam in the fourth.
“We have a lot of power through the lineup,” said LaMura, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. “One through nine, anyone in the lineup can hit one out. We are finally starting to click and get our offense together.”
While the long-ball prowess was prevalent, it couldn’t overshadow how efficient Red Bank Catholic (13-2) put together at bats and drove the baseball. It collected 19 hits and contributions from 12 different sources.
“Our lineup is ridiculous,” said Molina, who, along with Robinson, homered for the second straight day; the Caseys bashed four during a 12-2 triumph over Rumson on Monday. “Everyone hits the ball hard. And, those home runs weren’t fly balls, they were line drives that were crushed.”
Neptune (8-9), which bowed to Red Bank Catholic, 13-6, in their first encounter on April 19, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as Jason Richard lined an RBI double and courtesy runner James King scored on an error.
Red Bank Catholic stormed back in emphatic fashion. Molina doubled in a run, Robinson grounded a two-run single up the middle and scored on Keane turned on a 3-1 offering for a grand slam to left.
It was more of the same, but to a lesser scale as Robinson got his barrel on a 1-2 pitch and uncoiled on a for a three-run homer
Hausmann worked substitutes into the mix, including Yaccarine, whose jack with the bases loaded stamped a seven-run fourth.
Tyler Daly had a run-scoring double in the second for Neptune (8-9). Red Bank Catholic starter Ryan Slate tossed three innings of five-hit ball with three strikeouts to run his mark to 6-1.
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner