By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
NORTHFIELD — Some local restaurants have a promotion called “Taco Tuesday” to help fill the seats on what is normally a slow weeknight in the business. Holy Spirit has its own version, a.k.a. “Taco Thursday”, and a packed house at Birch Grove Park got plenty of entertainment on Thursday night in the form of a tightly contested high school baseball game between two rivals.
Joey “Taco” Hartman twirled four scoreless innings, and his counterpart, Anthony Capasso of Mainland, matched his effort before the Spartans scratched a couple of runs across against the Mustangs’ bullpen to win, 2-0. The win was the seventh straight for Holy Spirit, which improved to 15-3 and has wins over teams such as Buena Regional, St. Augustine Prep and Millville during the streak.
“I was pretty nervous at the start of the game. I had a little trouble in the first inning, walking a guy and letting up a hit, but after I got out of that first inning, I was pretty comfortable,” Hartman said. “Coming in, I was sticking to the fastball and curveball. After I got through the lineup once, I was getting more confident in the curveball.”
The story was Holy Spirit’s pitching, as Pat Spina came on and threw three innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Spina was lights out, not allowing a hit while fanning seven.
“It’s awesome, playing under the lights. I just tried to cancel everything out. They were heckling me in the dugout and everything, but I just tried to zone it all out,” Spina said. “We struggle hitting sometimes, but we pick each other up and play as a team.”
“I have a lot of confidence in Pat when he’s coming in after me. I had confidence that the hitters would get a hit or two in big spots, and they did, getting those two runs in the sixth inning. I have a lot of confidence in my defense, so all I have to do is throw strikes and let them do the work,” Hartman added. “Earlier in the season, we had some easy opponents, so it’s nice to come out here and get a big win over Mainland.”
Capasso allowed just five hits in 5 1/3 innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth when he walked Bobby Spicer and Tyler Knox followed with a single to left. That forced Mainland coach Billy Kern to go to the bullpen, and the first batter reliever Austin Blumetti faced, Dom Boselli, stroked an RBI single up the middle to give Holy Spirit a 1-0 lead.
“I was just trying to come through big, see a fastball down the middle and hit it hard back up the middle,” Boselli said. “I was getting my timing down on deck, just trying to lock in. I was looking for a fastball, and I got it.”
Knox came around to score on a balk after advancing to third on a force out, but Blumetti was able to get out of the jam without further damage. But Spina struck out four of the final six hitters he faced to lock up the win. Knox and Boselli combined for four of Spirit’s six hits, while Mainland (10-4) was limited to just four singles.
Boselli said playing at Birch Grove in front of a big crowd was a thrill for the Spartans.
“This is awesome. It’s always a great game against Mainland, and it was a great atmosphere under the lights,” he said. “There were Little League kids out here watching, and we’re like role models to them. It’s cool.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN