READING, PA – Alex Cornell breezed through six sterling innings. One frame from a complete game, the Archbishop Carroll junior right-handed tired.
In came senior Ian Myers. Game over.
The unfortunate foe on June 7 at Muhlenberg High School was Cedar Cliff, and behind great pitching and early offensive fireworks, Archbishop Carroll coasted to a 7-2 victory in a PIAA Class 5A state quarterfinal. The Patriots will face District 3 third-seed Lower Dauphin 6:30 Monday at Ephrata High School.
“This is one of the best games we’ve played all year,” said junior Tyler Kehoe. “Everyone stepped up in some way. That’s why we’re a great team because we don’t just rely on one guy.”
In truth, it was Kehoe who contributed the most with the bat. Carroll seized an early 7-0 lead with one run in the first and six more in the second. The Patriots took full advantage of a sloppy Cedar Cliff performance that included four balks and an error.
Kehoe began the scoring in the first when he walked, moved to second on a double, and scored on a balk.
In the second inning, the Patriots loaded the bases on two walks and an error. One out later, Kehoe (3 for 4, two doubles, one walk, two runs scored, three RBI) slammed a three-run double. Sophomore Max Hitman then singled home Kehoe, and senior Jake Kelchner singled home the sixth run.
Cornell took a shutout into the seventh before uncharacteristic control issues forced a pitching change.
“Alex dominated a very, very good team today,” said Carroll coach Mike Costanzo. “I’m very proud of him.”
Cornell was a man of few words despite his outstanding performance.
“I just felt confident in myself and my defense,” he said. “This is definitely the best game stuff-wise I had this year.”
After the Pats snared a big lead, Cornell didn’t do anything different.
“For the game it was big, but I wanted to have the same mentality when I was on the mound,” he said.
Carroll senior catcher Cole Chesnet agreed with Cornell’s assessment.
“Absolutely,” he said. “He was amazing. It shows you what kind of player he is that he had his best game in our biggest game.”
Archbishop Carroll senior catcher Cole Chesnet - PSD Photo Angelise Stuhl
Chesnet has had the good fortune of catching a dominant pitching staff led by aforementioned Catholic League Pitcher of the Year Jake Kelchner, Chesnet, Kehoe, and Myers. In two PIAA tourney contests, Carroll has allowed a paltry four runs.
“It's pretty fun,” said Chesnet. “It makes my job easier because they pretty much throw it where I want them to. It also gives you the confidence that they'll keep you in any games.”
(John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)