PENNSAUKEN – It was only the first game, but it appears opposing pitchers would be wise not to give the Bishop Eustace offense any help. It doesn’t need it.
On a sunny, but chilly, opening day, Eastern Regional High School pitchers walked 11 batters and the Crusaders made them pay time and again.
In the second inning, Vikings starter Sam Portnoy walked the bases loaded only to have the Crusaders Nick Koehn (2-for-3) unload them with a double. Two more walks and a fielders choice was followed by a two-run single by Mike Guzzardo (2-for-3, 4 RBI) as the Crusaders scored seven runs on two hits, but they walked seven times in the inning.
Bishop Eustace scored four more runs in the third and another in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk and the Crusaders cruised to a 12-0 victory.
“With this team, if you give us a free pass, the next guy comes in and steps up big,” said Crusaders’ third baseman Charlie Sanzio who walked twice in the second inning, had a two-run double in the third, and pitched the fifth inning in relief of starter Matt Orlando.
“We have a deep lineup,” Sanzio said. “Take our entire team, one through nine, we have guys that can drive the ball at any time. It was good to see the bats come out today.”
The beneficiary of this offensive outburst, Orlando, was very efficient through his four innings, especially in the first two innings when he struck out two, walked one and had his infielders make plays behind him. In four innings, he allowed two hits, walked two and struck out six.
“I was really looking forward to today,” Orlando said. “I was prepared and felt good warming up. The first inning was tougher, but I knew I had a good defense behind me and that took the pressure off.”
After Orlando set the Vikings down quietly in the first two innings, the Crusaders sent 13 men to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. Koehn’s one-out double cleared the bases, then Guzzardo delivered a two-run single with the bases loaded again. Walks plated the other two runs in the inning.
“We always have the approach at the plate that if you get a hitters count look for a pitch you can hit and pound it,” said Guzzardo, who added another two-run single in the third inning. “I had a fastball on the outside part of the plate and stayed on it.
“We came out hungry today. It should give us a lot of confidence to come out like this early in the season.”
With the big early lead, Orlando was able to relax and throw strikes.
“He was awesome today,” Guzzardo said. “We always tell him that. It starts with the pitcher. He threw strikes and we were behind him."
Bishop Eustace 12, Eastern 0
Eastern 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2
Bishop Eustace 0 7 4 1 x - 12 8
2B – Koehn, Sabato, Sanzio, BE.