By Joe Zedalis | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
It was a match-up of contrasting offensive styles in the South, Non-Public A quarterfinals Friday.
In one dugout was Pingry — an execution-based team that manufactures runs like Ford does automobiles. Small ball at its finest.
In the other dugout was St. John Vianney — a team that waits for the big inning and the three-run homer. Long ball, pure and simple.
Long ball won — and with a three-run homer no less.
Senior Matteo Pascuilli’s fourth hit of the game was a titanic, opposite-field blast with two runners on that lifted never-say-die St. John Vianney to a wild, 13-11, victory over Pingry, ranked No. 13 in the state by NJ.com. The game that featured 27 combined hits and 312 pitches.
“I knew it was gone when it left the bat, but he really crushed it,” said Vianney head coach Mike Morgan. “It went over our fence then landed in the outfield of the softball field and that was at least 25 yards beyond our fence.
“Matteo was on fire,” Morgan said. “He was so locked in I was afraid to say a word to him.”
Fourth-seeded St. John Vianney (18-6-1) will tangle with top-seeded and the No. 1 team in the state, St. Augustine next Tuesday. St. Augustine had a close call, slipping past Notre Dame, 4-3, on Friday.
“We’ve played down there many times and always seem to lose in a close game,” Morgan said. “Maybe this is the year we finally win against them (St. Augustine).”
In this win, St. John Vianney showed both resolve and character. The Lancers rallied from deficits of 3-0 in the first, 6-4 in the fourth, 8-5 in the fifth and 11-8 in the seventh.
“Our guys never stopped,” Morgan said. “We just kept coming back. We first noticed this during a couple scrimmages when we fell behind and rallied. It’s just something special this team has.”
Vianney not only had to beat Pingry. At points during they game they had to stop beating themselves.
“In the first inning there were three, routine pop flies that I felt should have been caught,” Morgan said. “In other innings we’d miss a ground ball or make a bad throw. Once they had people on they would bunt and steal. Pingry’s execution was incredible.”
Vianney’s final rally came in the bottom of the sixth, trailing 11-8, Matt Recco started the rally when he fouled off one 3-2 pitch and then drew a walk on the second one. Dylan Galamb followed with a first-pitch single and Nick Ferraioli singled on the second pitch he saw and loaded the bases.
Then came a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Dan Afflito cutting the Pingry lead to 11-10.
Brady Oswick was the hit by a pitch putting the tying run at second. That brought Pasculli to the plate. On a 3-1 pitch, the right-handed hitter launched a bomb.
“I just can’t believe the way our kids kept coming at them,” Morgan said pridefully.
Morgan used his third pitcher, Afflitto, in the seventh to close things out. Aiden Cody started and went five innings. He allowed 10 hits and eight earned runs. Ferraioli went one inning, allowing three hits and three runs. Afflitto, however, was lights out. He struck out the first two batters in the seventh and got the third on a ground ball.
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