Long feels strong enough to lift La Salle

Posted: May 23, 2012

Was La Salle's Kevin Long, still feeling the effects of a flu that had arrived over the weekend, hoping rain would arrive as predicted and push back a Catholic League baseball quarterfinal vs. St. Joseph's Prep?

"No, I was ready to go," he said. "Breathing was difficult for me at times, but I knew I'd be able to tough it out."

Long, looking anything but worn down or sluggish, pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts as the host Explorers silenced the Hawks, 6-0, Tuesday in a game that lasted 1 hour, 33 minutes.

"That was probably my best performance of the year," the 6-foot, 190-pound, senior righthander said. "A big thing for me was that I was able to consistently get my slider over for a strike."

On Friday, site and time to be determined, La Salle, which is trying for its first Catholic League crown since 2005, will face Archbishop Carroll in a semifinal.

Early in his high school career, it looked as if Long might be a catcher. "We said to him, 'You might want to consider being a pitcher,' " Explorers coach Joe Parisi said. "We could see that he had a live arm."

The only hit Long gave up was Jawan McAllister's fourth-inning knubber to third base. The ball died in the grass, giving Mike Piscopo no chance to make a play.

Long, a Lehigh recruit whose fastball has been clocked in the mid-80-m.p.h. range, threw 93 pitches, with 59 for strikes. He walked two.

"Every one of his pitches was on today," senior catcher Corey Baiada said. "He had complete control of the game."

Long, of Horsham, first caught the eye of Lehigh coach Sean Leary while playing for the All-Star Baseball Academy at a showcase in Flemington, N.J.

"Lehigh has exactly what I wanted in terms of academics," said the 18-year-old, a first-team all-Catholic League Red Division selection. "Baseball-wise, I got along well with the coaches and players during my visit there."

Against the Hawks, the 6-foot, 195-pound Baiada, ticketed for Bloomsburg, went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. In a four-run sixth, second baseman Colin Pyne delivered a two-run double to left field, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch.

La Salle, helped by an error and the first of two balks called against Prep starter Tom Mullin, took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. P.J. Acierno and Chris Melillo (two runs) both scored after delivering left-side singles.

"This team has a great work ethic, especially in the way it goes about practicing," Parisi said. "The kids are committed to winning. That's the main focus, not individual statistics or glory."

St. Joseph's Prep   0000000 - 012

La Salle   000204x - 670

WP: Kevin Long. LP: Tom Mullin. 2B: LS-Corey Baiada, Colin Pyne.

Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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