Last Dance: Spartans Advance to Round of 32 at Last Dance World Series
OCEAN CITY — The Baseball Performance Center Spartans, players from Holy Spirit High School, came into the final game of pool play in the Ocean City Region of the Last Dance World Series knowing exactly what they had to do — go out and beat the top-seeded and host Ocean City Raiders on their home field to punch their ticket to next week’s single elimination Round of 32. A loss by the Spartans would have left four teams with identical 2-1 records and all kinds of potential crazy tiebreaker scenarios.
The Spartans made sure there was no need for all that fuss. Steven Petrosh blasted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the top of the third to give the Spartans a 4-2 lead, and from there Spirit poured it on, eventually winning 13-4 to finish pool play at 3-0, the only undefeated team and champion of the bracket.
Holy Spirit is tentatively scheduled to take on Williamstown at 8 a.m. on Tuesday at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, home of the Trenton Thunder.
“I never thought I’d ever get to play for Holy Spirit again, so this is an honest dream come true. These boys are something special. When we come together, we kick butt,” said senior Brandon Castellini, who got things going in the first inning with a sacrifice fly that helped stake the Spartans to an early 2-0 lead. “When we see pitchers throwing hard — when they have a Division I pitcher on the mound, an ace — we just bear down and overcome it. We play small ball and do what we have to do.”
Spirit jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Ocean City answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second as one run scored on an error and another on an RBI single by Gannon Brady. But in the top of the third, Spirit shortstop Steven Petrosh made up for a couple errors in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Egg Harbor Township in a big way by hitting a two-run home run down the right-field line off Vanderbilt University commit Tommy Finnegan, one of the area’s top pitching prospects.
“I was looking for a fastball. He got me with a fastball on the first pitch and then I went around on a curveball, so it was 0-2. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come back with a curveball, but I knew (if he threw a fastball) I just had to get my foot down and put a good swing on it. When I hit it, I knew I got a good piece of it. I didn’t think it was going to go out, but when I saw it go over the fence a whole rush went through me, and I was like, ‘let’s go!'” said Petrosh, a junior. “It felt good helping my teammates out because in the last game (with my errors) it could have gone the wrong way. I just wanted to help my teammates out and it felt good to give us some insurance runs and help out again.”
That dinger staked the Spartans to a 4-2 lead, and they never looked back, scoring four runs in the fifth to push the lead to 8-2 and adding five runs in the sixth to go ahead 13-4. The fifth-inning rally was highlighted by a two-run single from Trevor Cohen, and in the sixth Tyler Armstrong, C.J. Egrie and Cohen had consecutive RBI singles to extend the lead to 11-4. Jake DiNatale and Egrie combined to limit Ocean City to just two runs in five innings of relief of starter Jake Taylor. DiNatale isn’t a flamethrower, but did a great job getting outs, much like Van Patten did against EHT the night before.
“When you see DiNatale on the mound, or Patten, you think, ‘this is like Wiffle ball, I’m going to hit the ball as far as I can.’ But they are hard to hit, and they’re effective,” Castellini said.
Castellini said he got a little emotional when he first arrived for the start of pool play on Tuesday.
“I’ll be honest, when we came here for the first game against ACIT, it was emotional. I got emotional in the car thinking about how I never thought I’d get another chance. It really hit me,” he said. “Now, we’ll just keep swinging, keep throwing some leather, and see how far we can take this.”
Petrosh echoed those sentiments.
“It’s great to get out with my boys again. We didn’t think we would three months ago, we thought it was going to be all talk and no action, but that first game was awesome. The camaraderie and all the people here, it’s just been great. The whole field was packed down the first base and third base lines,” he added. “It was a little nerve wracking, don’t get me wrong, but it was great at the end, especially after we won. We’re just going to keep it rolling. We’re not stopping here, we want to keep this intensity rolling.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays