Marian Catholic finds late lightning
Updated: July 18, 2011 11:10PM
Struggling to get on base lately, Marian Catholic’s Rob Cifelli devoted his weekend to figuring out his swing.
Working with his dad three times both days over the weekend, Cifelli saw the hard work pay off in a big way Monday.
Going 4-for-4 and reaching base five times overall, the senior-to-be scored four runs, including the walk-off winner in Marian’s 12-11 comeback victory over Marist in the Richards Regional in the opening round of the Illinois High School Coaches Baseball Association playoffs.
“When I’m not hitting well, I can feel what’s going on with my swing,” Cifelli said. “I’ve been swinging long, trying to hit the ball out of the park, and I don’t hit like that. Today I was able to keep it short and quiet in the box.”
Trailing 11-8 in the bottom of the seventh, the Spartans (12-9) mounted a rally off Marist starter Mike Golden. Pat Schmidt and Erik Callaghan each walked and scored on Chris Molyneaux’s triple to the right-field gap. Kyle Fitzgerald’s RBI double scored Molyneaux to tie the game at 11.
Marist (7-10) looked to have some magic on its side as the RedHawks turned a double play on a bunt attempt, but Cifelli again made his presence felt. Having reached base four times already (triple and three singles), he was hit by a pitch, bringing up Pat Swanson.
Facing Marist reliever Dan Harper, Swanson blasted the first pitch he saw to the right-field gap. Marist right fielder Mark Bean tracked the ball and made a diving attempt to catch it, but came up just short of making the play.
Running on contact from first base, Cifelli rounded the bases and easily scored.
“I just wanted to hit the first thing I saw,” Swanson said. “He threw one right down the middle, and I was able to take it to right-center field. We were ready, and we’d been hitting them all day so everything kind of fell into place.”
A key contributor for the Spartans during the spring season, Cifelli’s energy from the leadoff position helped set the tone all day for Marian.
“Day in, day out, he’s a spark plug for us,” Marian Catholic assistant coach George Shimko said. “He comes with energy, works hard and puts the ball in play.”
Marian Catholic coach Phil Wail was not in attendance after his wife gave birth to their son Monday morning.
Cifelli finished with four runs and three RBI to lead a balanced attack for the Spartans. Also contributing were Callaghan (2 RBI), Fitzgerald (4-for-4), and Jacob Lorenz (run, RBI).
For Marist, Connor Funk scored four times and hit a solo homer. Mike Hearne added two RBI.
“We got a lot accomplished this summer,” Marist coach Tom Fabrizio said. “A lot of guys who I hadn’t seen much opened my eyes as to what they can give us next year, and unfortunately some guys opened eyes in a different sense. I’m happy overall with what I saw from my guys.”
Marian Catholic will play T.F. South at 9 a.m. Tuesday at St. Laurence.