By Ed PiperThe Bishop’s School Knights are off to a fast start under new Coach Joey Centanni and his staff. The Knights spotted the Clairemont High School Chieftans a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning March 24, then came back to score two runs in the bottom of the inning to tie, and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth to win 4-3.
Senior Stevie Hinshaw pitched two solid innings of relief and drove in a run, collecting the win as he continues to recover from labrum surgery.
Centanni is bringing Hinshaw along slowly, with a goal of being able to start games later in the season. Hinshaw also came in to pitch the last two innings against Lincoln March 26 in a City Conference Tournament game. He gained the win on the mound as he drove in the winning run in the top of the eighth inning, 10-9.
“As a team, we play our best baseball at the end of games, and that has a lot to do with Coach Centanni,” said Reed Meyer, who had two hits in the win over Clairemont. “He has us running the bases aggressively, and I like the positive energy he encourages in the dugout.”
Said Centanni: “It’s the college thing: we want there to be a lot of energy in the dugout, respect the game, play well fundamentally.”
The Knights (7-2) won their first seven games, including four games in the Las Vegas Tournament, before losing March 28 to Serra, 9-5.
Several hitters are tearing the cover off the ball, as Bishop’s carries a hefty .349 team batting average through eight games. Junior second baseman Bulla Graft has two home runs, 10 RBIs, and a .400 average as he leads off the batting order. Jamie Abrams, starting center fielder, also has 10 RBIs with a ridiculous .652 average on 15 for 23 hitting. Hinshaw leads the team with 11 RBI’s to go with his .360 batting average. Meyer is hitting .407, Cyrus Nolan .467, and Tripp Twyman .429.
Twyman, playing right field and the only senior on the team besides Hinshaw, completed a torrid string of 13 straight plate appearances spread over five games in which he got on base.
It ended, after 10 walks and three hits, when the 6-foot-1 senior grounded out in the fourth inning against Clairemont hurler Ross Milo. Twyman informed teammates in the dugout after his groundout, smiling and somewhat amazed, “That’s the first time I’ve gotten out this season.” In the second inning, Twyman walked and stole second base.
In the bottom of the third, the Knights scored their first run to tie the game 1-1 when Meyer smashed a two-out double over the outstretched glove of Clairemont left fielder Joe Risi. Jamie Abrams singled, putting runners on first and third. Designated hitter Cyrus Nolan singled Meyer in for the run.
Centanni said the Knights are employing a small-ball running game because it suits their personnel. Bishop’s will put together a single, stolen base and follow-up hit to score a run. “We have some guys who can run, put the ball into play,” said the former pro baseball player.
A rotation has tentatively developed with the starting pitching, with Meyer, Robby Schreiber, and P.J. Negulescu alternating, and Hinshaw appearing frequently in relief. About Meyer, Centanni said, “I can have him start, or I can put him in in the middle of the game. I put him in in the middle of one game (in the Las Vegas tournament), and he pitched until the end of the game.”
Negulescu, a junior, started against Clairemont and went five innings, giving up four hits, striking out five but walking four. After a rocky first inning, the righthander settled in for the next three innings, facing only 12 batters in three innings, inducing two groundouts and six flyball outs.
Negulescu showed every possible variation of a slow curve, causing assistant coach Scott Deen to remark wryly, “This guy’s got 15 renditions of one pitch.”