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High School Baseball St. Joe’s edges St. Francis in Georgetown Cup rematch

There is always hype when the two teams that met in a league’s championship series in the previous year meet during the next regular season; there’s even more when circumstances cause the match-up to be each team’s first league game of the season.

Due to rainouts last week, both St. Joseph’s and St. Francis opened up their 2013 Monsignor Martin Athletic Association baseball schedule against one another on Monday afternoon (April 15) in Kenmore and the game played out as one would expect from a contest featuring two of the top teams in the league.

It was a battle between two of the top pitchers in the MMAA — Matthew Matre of St. Joe’s and Drew Bassini of St. Francis. Both were dialed in, but one mistake, a fastball over the middle by Bassini leading to a deep right field home run by the Marauders’ Jacob Kopacz, that turned out to be the difference maker as St. Joe’s topped the Red Raiders 3-2.

“I saw a pitched I liked, and I took advantage of it,” Kopacz said. “Simple as that.”

Red Raiders’ coach Paul Bartell, knowing who wold be on the mound that day, said the game went just as he expected with good pitching, great defense and very few hits.

“It wasn’t going to be a high scoring game, and that’s exactly what we got,” Bartell said. “Once the pitchers settled in, it just came down to a pitcher’s duel. That was really the difference, just one hit.”

The game began a bit sloppy as both team’s surrendered runs off of wild pitches in the first inning. St. Francis scored one of its two runs off of a wild pitch in the top half and the Marauders scored both of their first inning runs on a pitch that rolled to the backstop to even the game, 2-2.

Paul Nasca, St. Joe’s coach, said that he was really happy with the way his team battled back after falling behind quick. He specifically mentioned Trever Tumiel’s diving catch at shortstop in the top of the second, and a picture-perfect double play in the third that kept the game tied.

“We got down early 2-0, and we talked about how you answer back,” he said. “We answered back; we got some guys on base and made some things happen.”

Matre said that it was all about getting nerves out of the way in his first outing of the season.

“I don’t think I was completely settled in; I think I got a little rattled and left a couple pitches in the middle of the plate,” he said. “After that, I settled down and got my curveball and slider working, and it was all set from there.”

The St. Bonaventure-bound hurler settled in after a rocky start and took advantage of tendencies he saw in the Red Raiders’ movements at the plate to help him throw a complete game. He noted that St. Francis’ batters were biting on the first pitch which, he felt, gave him a major advantage to control the at-bats.

“I figured I could throw balls to the outside and get them to swing,” Matre said. “I kept them really off balanced with the off-speed stuff. I thought that was my big advantage today.”

Bartell added: “Our defense played well, and our pitching was there, but we can’t waste opportunities like that in big games.”

The two were scheduled to play again on Tuesday evening in Athol Springs, but the game was postponed due to rain.

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