Hanrahan leads Wash. Twp. to another win

Posted: April 24, 2012

Connor Hanrahan won't say a word, not even "ouch" when he's hit by a pitch.

Or two pitches.

"Not a problem," Hanrahan said of taking two for the team. "Anything for a win."

Tuesday was typical for Hanrahan and the Washington Township baseball team. The senior second baseman ended up with a dirty uniform and a pair of bruises, and the Minutemen ended up with another victory.

Hanrahan walked once, was hit by two pitches, scored a run, and played flawless defense as Washington Township, the No. 1 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, improved to 12-0 with a 5-4 victory over Paul VI in an Olympic Conference interdivision game.

"Connor is such a leader for us," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. "He's probably the most selfless player in our program. He finishes every game covered in dirt from head to toe and with a big smile on his face."

Washington Township is South Jersey's surprise team. The Minutemen have been getting key hitting from the likes of junior catcher Ryan Long (1 for 2, two RBIs, three steals) and junior first baseman Shaine Hughes (2 for 4, double, RBI) and strong pitching from junior Bill Grubb (52/3 innings, two runs, his fourth win) and sophomore Mark Scarpa (11/3 innings, save).

But the best baseball teams need guys such as Hanrahan, who does all the dirty work - literally and figuratively.

"He does everything for us," Alvaro Jr. said. "He gives up at-bats. He gives up pitches when guys are stealing. He bunts. He'll take the ball the other way.

"He's the perfect, perfect two-hole hitter for us. We like to try to get Ryan [Long] on base, and Connor will do whatever he has to do to move him along."

Long led off the game by getting hit by a pitch. Hanrahan walked. Hughes doubled, Vinnie Nocella hit a sacrifice fly, and another run scored on an error. Just like that, it was 3-0.

"That's the way we play," Hanrahan said. "We've got a lot of talent, but we know it's more than talent. We know we have to work hard."

Defensively, Washington Township received good work from Hughes, who made three unassisted putouts. The Minutemen short-circuited a Paul VI rally with a perfectly executed cutoff play, and ended another inning as shortstop Matt Long, Ryan's brother, and Hanrahan turned a crisp double play.

Hanrahan is the only senior who takes the field for the Minutemen. Nocella, the designated hitter, is the other senior starter.

Hanrahan knows he needs to be a leader. He's comfortable in that role, as long as it doesn't involve too much conversation.

"I'm not a vocal guy," said Hanrahan, who is undecided about college. "I try to lead by example."

His message is getting through. The Minutemen have lots of young talent, but they are 12-0 because their pitchers are throwing strikes, their fielders are making plays, and their hitters are grinding out at-bats - taking walks and moving runners and biting their tongue when a fastball plunks them on the back.

"He'll do whatever it takes to win," Alvaro Jr. said of Hanrahan. "He doesn't say a word, but he's very competitive. The other kids see that and see the way he plays the game. We're a reflection of Connor."

Washington Township   3020000 - 551

Paul VI   2000002 - 4102

WP: Bill Grubb. LP: Nick Gallo. 2B: WT-Shaine Hughes; PVI-Nick Gallo. HR: PVI-Ty Keen.


Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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