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Fun year for SV’s ‘loose’ Mustangs baseball team


St. Vincent High School baseball players were rewarded for their eighth straight league championship by having eight players recognized on the All-North Central League II team.

Mustang center fielder Michael Davis was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Teammates Nick Murphy, Reno Nalducci and Jack Romano were chosen to the first team. Gio Antonini and Ethan Rapoport were picked to the second team and Matt Pierson and Eric Riley received honorable mention notice.

St. Vincent went undefeated (10-0) to the NCL II title, won two North Coast Section games before losing in the semifinals to Athenian, 5-1, and finished with a 20-6 record.

St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway was, understandably, pleased with the St. Vincent season. “Any time you hit 20 wins, it is a great season,” he explained.

St. Vincent teams generally hit well, and this season’s team was no exception, compiling a team average of .289, but this year the Mustangs also pitched very well, with six pitchers combining for a 1.97 earned run average.

Romano had a 7-4 record with a 1.52 ERA. He struck out 76 batters and walked just 24 in 69 innings.

Rapoport was 8-1 on the season with a 1.49 ERA. Antonini was 3-1 with a 0.62 ERA. Nalducci was 1-0 with a 3.03 ERA.

Galloway gives credit for the stingy pitching staff to assistant coach Charley Leoni. “He lives and breathes baseball,” Galloway said. “He is old school and he works the pitchers hard. He teaches them the fine art of pitching and he knows the game, so they listen.”

Behind the pitchers, St. Vincent was sound defensively and particularly strong up the middle.

Davis was not only the class of the league defensively in center field, but one of the league’s best hitters. It was not only his team-leading .375 batting average, but when he collected his 27 hits in 23 games that made him so valuable. He seemed to be forever getting the key hits when they were needed most.

“He ran the outfield for us,” Galloway noted. “He knew the angles at our field and could run just about anything down.”

The middle of the St. Vincent defense started with Murphy behind the plate. Always an excellent receiver and team leader, the senior found his batting groove this season, hitting .300. “He became a complete player,” Galloway said.

The prime middle infielders were Nalducci at shortstop, when he wasn’t pitching, and steady Eric Riley at second base.

Nalducci was a batting mainstay, hitting .365 and leading the team in runs scored (30), hits (31) and extra base hits (11).

Riley was a consistently strong glove man. Although he hit just .224, it did not reflect his offensive contributions, which included a .310 on-base percentage with just six strikeouts all season.

The corner infield positions carried big bats.

Freshman Antonini, who played primarily first base, batted .296, scored 19 runs and knocked in 19. He hit two of his team’s three home runs.

When he wasn’t pitching, Romano played an outstanding third base. He batted 371 with 23 hits in 23 games, knocking in 16 runs.

Pierson, who could play just about any position, including pitcher, was especially gifted as an outfielder. He hit.303 with 20 hits, 13 runs scored and 10 RBIs.

Another player who made a strong contribution to the Mustang cause was sophomore AJ Fetter, who made some outstanding plays in right field and hit .250 on the season.

While successful, it was a different kind of team for Galloway. “They were a loose group,” he explained. “They had fun, but when it came time to play, they got the job done. It was a good year. They kept me loose.”