MILLTOWN – Salesianum’s baseball team is in the midst of a stern three-day test, with games against a trio of the top teams in the state. Thanks to Alex Hinton – among others – the Sals passed part two with an 8-0 shutout at St. Mark’s on April 24.
Hinton helped the Sals on the mound and at the plate. He threw a complete game two-hitter, striking out 10 Spartans while not allowing a runner to reach second base. At the plate, he had two hits and four runs batted in, and he reached all four times he was up.
The Sals picked up the only run they would need in the first inning, and they did so with two outs. Jacob Dunion rocketed a double to the fence in right-center off Spartans starter Matt Phillips. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Hinton knocked him in with a single to left.
Hinton drove in the team’s second run as well, this time in the third. Dylan Rees walked with one out, one of nine bases on balls issued by Spartans pitching on the afternoon. Dunion singled, followed by a walk to Joe Setting. Hinton picked up his RBI the painful way, taking a pitch off his back side.
He was even more dominant on the mound. Hinton struck out two batters in each of the first three innings. Phillips had the Spartans’ lone hit through the first six innings, a leadoff single to center. His courtesy runner was erased at second on a fielder’s choice. Nick Pisorchik was hit by a pitch to open the bottom of the third, but after that, Hinton retired the next 14 Spartans. Of those, just one ball left the infield. That was a fly ball to center field in for the second out of the seventh. Rees, the Sals’ second baseman, and shortstop Dom Ragazzo combined for five assists and two putouts during Hinton’s 14-batter run.
This game had special meaning for Hinton. He missed last season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament during the previous football season, and it was St. Mark’s that got the better of the Sals the second time the teams met last year.
I kept a chip on my shoulder because I wasn’t able to play last year, and we got no-hit,” he said of that game at Frawley Stadium in early May.
The Sals broke the game open in their half of the sixth. Matt Querey and Ragazzo sandwiched walks around a strikeout to open the inning. St. Mark’s got the second out, but Dunion followed with a run-scoring single and took second on the throw. Joe Setting walked, and Ragazzo came home when ball four went to the backstop.
Logan Doran, the courtesy runner for Setting, stole second, and Hinton drove Dunion and Doran home with his second single of the game. Brendan Pacheco closed out the inning in a big way, drilling a two-run home run over the fence in left-center field.
Nick Muzzi singled with two outs in the seventh for the Spartans’ first hit since the second, but Hinton retired the next batter on his 10th strikeout to end the game. Hinton said he relied on breaking balls after using the fastball to get ahead in the count.
“I tend to work fastball, curveball,” he said. “All throughout school today, I was like, ‘Just dominate the average play. Get up there and throw strikes.’ Most importantly, get ahead early.”
Dunion had three hits and two runs scored for Sallies, who improved to 7-1. It was a big win for the Sals, coming against their biggest rival in their first game at St. Mark’s since 2013. They defeated Caravel on Tuesday, and they take on No. 1 Appoquinimink on Thursday at 4 p.m. at home. After a day off, the Sals travel to Indian River to meet the Indians on Saturday.
For the Sals, however, all of the energy is used on that day’s opponent. “Going into today, we just said we’re going to take each game one at a time. Yesterday, we weren’t focused on today, and today, we’re not focused on yesterday. We’re just focused on moving forward and getting better.”
The Spartans are now 8-3. They are home against Smyrna on Saturday at 1 p.m.