Baseball on their minds

Posted: May 29, 2007

They exhibit pretty much identical baseball skills and tomorrow they'll share a field, not to mention a hunger for a Catholic League championship.

But in an era of increasing specialization, their overall approach to high school sports is different.

Andrew Lacovara, a swift junior, plays centerfield for Archbishop Ryan, and he admits to being a year-round baseball player. Tim Edger, also a junior with wheels, mans the same position for St. Joseph's Prep, and it's possible his diamond days will not extend beyond high school.

In sweltering conditions Saturday at Widener University, their respective division-championship squads captured mostly onesided semifinals to set up a title clash tomorrow, also at Widener, at 2:30.

Ryan bested Cardinal O'Hara, 11-3, in the daycap as Lacovara, out of the leadoff slot, went 3-for-4, stole a base and scored two runs. The Prep muffled North Catholic, 6-1, as Edger, in the No. 2 spot, went 2-for-4 with one RBI apiece on a triple and single. He also scored one run.

The Public League championship (along with the District 12 Class AAAA state playoff berth) will be decided today at 4:30 at Campbell's Field, in Camden, when Central meets Frankford.

Lacovara played freshman basketball at Ryan and by now he figures he would have proceeded to the varsity. He hesitated not at all to wave bye-bye, however.

"Baseball's definitely my best sport, no doubt. And I love it," he said. "It's more relaxing than basketball, and it takes more thinking."

Edger's other sport is football, in which he performs as a kicker-punter in addition to wideout. He is receiving preliminary contact from schools at the Division I-A and I-AA levels for one to all three skills, depending, and it's easy to predict he could wind up in the kind of situation being enjoyed by his brother, Bill, a Prep grad and promising sophomore-to-be wideout at Holy Cross.

Tim has stuck with baseball for two simple reasons: skill level and enjoyment.

In fact, Edger also plays for an American Legion team in Mount Laurel, N.J., and he spent the rest of the holiday weekend, as many others dashed to the Jersey Shore, participating in a practice and scrimmage.

Football? On the side burner.

"There have been a couple of conflicts," he said, "but I've made it to most of our training sessions. The one thing I'm not doing is lifting weights. I tried it maybe 2-3 weeks ago and when I went to throw at baseball practice, my shoulder was hurting. Everything was stiff."

Edger was motivated to perform extra well Saturday because of what happened in his first at-bat.

"That was my first strikeout in a while. I'm guessing five-six games," he said. "I was pretty angry. I wanted to make up for it."

Edger laced his triple to right off a fastball; the ball short-hopped the fence. His single, off a changeup, came on a groundball single to left.

Hey, if Edger would like some advice and how to never strike out, he could consult with Lacovara. A "K," not even the backward version to designate looking, has not gone next to Lacovara's name in Ryan's scorebook all season.

Twice in this one, Lacovara was driven in by junior shortstop Nick Ferdinand (2-for-3, walk, triple, three RBI), who also happens to be a football headliner.

"I've been a leadoff hitter since I was 11 years old," Lacovara said. "I like it and I don't know how I'd do anything else. Since I haven't struck out all year, I don't have a problem with falling behind in the count.

"I don't get nervous if it's 1-2 or 0-2. I keep the same approach. And then I depend on my legs. I'm definitely not a power hitter."

Lacovara is so immersed in baseball, he travels to the home of his AAU coach David Amaro, brother of the Phillies' assistant GM Ruben, to hit in a backyard batting cage. Even in winter. He also works at a baseball/softball facility, in Newtown, that's owned by former Phillie Jeff Manto.

"Even with Ryan, I've hit outdoors in cold weather," Lacovara said. "We were out there in December."

Semifinal details

Prep sophomore righthander Kyle Mullen held North to one hit, Chris Morrin's fifth-inning single, in 6 2/3 innings. He departed after walking three and plunking Ed Hepworth, forcing in a run. Classmate Kevin Gillen induced a groundout to end it and another sophomore, Steve Bruno, went 2-for-3 with one RBI . . . In Ryan's win, senior lefty Kevin McGovern scattered six hits (in six different innings; three came with two away) while Rob McArdle went 3-for-4 with a two-run single and Mike Kovacs stroked a two-run single. O'Hara's Marco Menna doubled and tripled. *

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