At Lansdale Catholic, he's catching on and on and on

Posted: May 18, 2012

SINCE HIS former position will also be part of his future, Kevin Neumann would have been mildly justified in offering resistance.

But, hey, the kid’s a team player. So during his senior baseball season at Lansdale Catholic High, there he is, playing catcher.

And playing it some more. And some more. And some more.

At least, that was the scenario Thursday as LC visited Conwell-Egan for a Catholic Blue regular-season finale in semi-hot temps. At 6:48 p.m., 183 minutes after the first pitch was thrown, Neumann framed a called third strike from righthander Matt Kress and the Crusaders owned an 8-6, 10-inning victory.

Was it safe to assume he was tired?

“I would say that,” Neumann shot back with a laugh.

It was also safe to assume his head was spinning. LC coach Rick Norwood used six pitchers — Pat Duggan, Tom Gibbons, Ben Lippincott, Dan Carney, Jon Motts and Kress — and only Duggan lasted as long as three innings.

“I’m not saying it’s the funnest thing to remember all their pitches,” Neumann said. “And which ones to call in what count. By now I’m getting the hang of what pitches each guy throws and how he throws them. And you have to learn which ones work and which ones don’t.”

Neumann played rightfield last season so then-senior Eric Lewandowski could be used behind the dish. Graduation left a void and Neumann drew the short straw. Oops, let’s make that the long straw.

“I was always a catcher through my baseball days,” he said. “I’ll be playing outfield after high school [he’s bound for Penn State Abington], but I do like catcher. It’s a fun position. You’re always involved. You get to determine the pace of the game. To control what’s happening. And I do consider myself to be a leader along with (Motts, Pat Carney and Rick Norwood, son of the coach.)”

Batting in the No. 3 spot, Neumann went 1-for-4 with a walk, two steals — no courtesy runner for him, baby — and two RBI.

In the sixth, he drew a leadoff free pass, thieved second, moved to third on Motts’ infield single and, following a pair of strikeouts, scored on Pat Carney’s infield single.

He provided even more juice in the seventh. With the bases loaded thanks to a hit batsman, error and walk, Neumann dumped a two-run single into center and advanced to second on a poor relay throw. After Motts tapped into a fielder’s choice, runners were stationed on first and third. As it had in the sixth, unsuccessfully, LC tried the ol’ wander-off-first, try-to-get-a-run-out-of-it play. This time it worked. Neumann dashed home before the Eagles were able to tag out Motts in a rundown.

One problem: C-E matched LC’s three-spot in the bottom half of the inning.

“Honestly, I did think we were going to win it [in regulation],” Neumann said. “Give Egan credit. They fought hard. We had to find another way to get it done.”

Of his big hit, Neumann said, “First swing, I was really looking to drive it far. After that it was, ‘Just get the ball down. Send it somewhere to get the runs home.’?”

C-E tied the score on John Murray’s single, an infield error off Mike Petrizzi’s bat and a four-pitch walk to Beau Fleming. In the 10th, after the base ump corrected a major blunder that would have been the third out (Fleming caught a throw from shortstop, but was nowhere near the base), Pat Carney, Dan’s brother, sent a looping two-run single to leftcenter.

Kress allowed no hits in his two-inning appearance.

“Matt pitched great. Really stepped up,” Neumann said.

Neumann lives in Silverdale — Never heard of it? Join the club. The borough’s population was 871 in 2010; the public school kids go to Pennridge — and envisions himself teaching elementary school. Once he feels comfortable with that, he might ease into coaching.

Could he picture sending six arms to the mound?

“Pbbbbb,” he said/exhaled. “If it happens, it happens. Gotta be prepared at all times.” n

Contact Ted Silary at silaryt@phillynews.com

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