No-hitter, big wins for St. Joe baseball
MILLVILLE—A no-hitter and a pair of wins against two of the Cape Atlantic League’s (CAL) best teams highlighted a strong week for St. Joseph Academy’s baseball team, which entered play this week riding a five-game winning streak.
“We’re starting to look more like the team we anticipated having at the start of the season,” St. Joseph coach Nick Core said.
“We’ve had some injuries, but guys are starting to get back in the lineup and we’re playing really good baseball. Right now, we feel we can compete with anybody,” Core said.
St. Joe backed up their coach’s confidence last week, picking up wins against both Millville and Egg Harbor Twp., two of the top-rated teams in the CAL.
Sandwiched between those two victories was a memorable performance from sophomore Jimmy Mantuano, who tossed a six-inning no-hitter Lower Cape May on May 13.
Mantuano was efficient in the game, throwing 75 pitches, most for strikes and helping his own cause at the plate with three hits and three runs scored in St. Joe’s 10-0 win.
The sophomore struck out three and walked two in the victory.
Brock Mercado added three hits and three RBIs in the win, while Scott DiGerolamo drove in two runs.
Playing at Millville on May 12, Mantuano went 2-for-4 with three runs as St. Joseph avenged an earlier loss to the Thunderbolts with an 8-4 victory.
With the game tied 1-1 after four innings, St. Joe took the lead for good in the top of the fifth when Adrian Kent’s sacrifice fly scored Cohl Mercado to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth, St. Joe broke the game open, sending nine batters to the plate while scoring three more runs.
Ty Powell singled to start the rally, and an error and a walk set up Cohl Mercado’s RBI ground out. Two batters later, Ty Mercado singled in a run, and Kent was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score another runner for St. Joe.
In the seventh, the Wildcats sealed the win with another three-run rally, this one sparked by Gage Ambruster’s two-run single.
“We hit the ball up and down the lineup today. The bottom half [of the lineup] did a great job. Adrian [Kent] had a huge at bat with that sacrifice fly and even getting hit by a pitch, he helped us. Ty Powell had a big hit in the nine spot. I was really happy with how we swung the bats today,” Core said.
Powell earned the win with his second-straight strong start. The sophomore went six innings and struck out three.
“That’s great to see because Ty Powell isn’t someone who overpowers guys. He just goes out and pitches and he’s been getting better and better with every start,” Core said.
Earlier in the season, Millville had beaten St. Joe 15-4.
“We’re a different team than the one they saw at the beginning of the season. We’re playing very well right now,” Core said.
Prior to the win at Millville, St. Joe topped Pleasantville 20-10 in a slugfest at Hammonton Lake Park.
Mantuano was 2-for-3 with three runs, DiGerolamo drove in two and Cohl Mercado had two RBIs in his first game back after missing three weeks with an injury.
“It’s great to have Cohl back,” Core said.
“He adds speed to our lineup and he’s such a great hitter,” he said.
Tyler Bowman earned the win for the Wildcats.
Playing against Oakcrest on May 14, St. Joe posted its fourth-win of the week, topping the Falcons 6-2.
Ambruster notched the win with seven strikeouts and added a single and a run scored.
Brock Mercado had two doubles and two RBIs, scoring twice.
The week ended with a huge 8-6 win at Egg Harbor Twp. The loss was just the second of the season for the host Eagles, who enter this week with a 13-2 record.
St. Joe jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the first inning, but EHT fought back to tie the game 6-6 after six innings.
St. Joe clinched the win with a two-run rally in the top of the seventh.
Ty Mercado drove in five runs in the game and was also the winning pitcher, while Brock Mercado added a double and three RBIs.
Earlier this week, St. Joseph hosted St. Augustine Prep, but that game ended too late for this edition. On May 19, the Wildcats play at Wildwood at 4 p.m.