Rick O'Brien: Coatesville catcher tries to live down gaffe

Coatesville senior Jake Kennedy is batting third in a lineup that has won five straight. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Coatesville senior Jake Kennedy is batting third in a lineup that has won five straight. CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer
Posted: April 11, 2013

Coatesville's Jake Kennedy, a savvy and hard-hitting catcher, hopes that some late-year heroics will replace an early-season blunder.

In the seventh inning against host Unionville, with the bases loaded and one out in an 8-8 contest, the usually focused backstop erred in thinking a strikeout was the third out and rolled the ball toward the mound.

That gave the Unionville runner at third base the chance to race home for the deciding tally in the season opener.

"It was a brain cramp," Kennedy said matter-of-factly. The gaffe has led to some good-natured ribbing.

"Now, my coaches like to have fun and ask me how many outs there are," Kennedy said. "I take it in stride. I know they're just playing around."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, batting third in the order, has since helped the 5-1 Red Raiders to five consecutive victories.

"He's consistent, he's a contact hitter, and he hits for power," Coatesville coach Hal Ziegler said.

It was a youth-league coach who decided Kennedy was best-suited to play catcher.

"It just kind of stuck from there," he said. "I like being involved in every play and overseeing everything that happens on the field."

Last season, Kennedy batted .397 with nine home runs, including a walk-off shot, as the Red Raiders went 17-9, placed fifth in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs, and advanced to the second round of states before losing to Council Rock South.

In a district playback game, Kennedy blasted three homers, including a grand slam, to ignite a 14-7 win over Ches-Mont League National Conference rival Downingtown West. He totaled seven RBIs.

Last fall, the 18-year-old played in showcase events for the All-Star Baseball Academy.

"It was mostly wood-bat tournaments," he said. "We were in North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida."

After receiving interest from several Division I schools, including West Virginia and Appalachian State, Kennedy, of Thorndale, opted for Division II Shippensburg.

"With a Division I team, I probably would have had to sit on the bench for a few years before playing," he said. "I wanted the chance to come in and make an immediate impact. I'll get that at Shippensburg."

Well-armed. Central Bucks South's pitching rotation is stocked with three solid righthanders: Bobby Wittemann, Ricky Dennis, and Matt Radwanski.

"I love our pitchers," Titans coach Mike Schaefer said. "I'll put those guys against any team's top three."

Wittemann, who will play at Susquehanna, went 8-0 with a 1.64 ERA last season. The 6-8, 225-pound Dennis, whose fastball has been clocked in the high-80-m.p.h. range, is headed to Monmouth.

C.B. South, which is 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Suburban One League Continental Conference, has been sparked on offense by catcher Jon Mullin, outfielder Will Foy, shortstop Ben Moller (Marist), and outfielder-catcher Tom Shields.

The host Titans had 19 at-bats in the first inning of Tuesday's 16-1, three-inning romp over Continental rival Quakertown. Mullin opened with a single and added a two-run triple.

Extra bases. Through Tuesday, Strath Haven's Kevin Mohollen was batting .652 with four doubles and two homers. The junior catcher and leadoff man is hearing from Delaware, Georgetown, and Penn. . . . Haverford School's Kevin McGowan and Matt Galetta are hitting .500 and .440, respectively. . . . Hatboro-Horsham has been led on offense by Grant Opalisky (.500 average, .522 on-base percentage) and Zach Prendergast (.381, .435). . . . For Cardinal O'Hara, sophomore Chris Salvey is batting .556 with four doubles. . . . Friends' Central shortstop Bryan Rubin is hitting .385. . . . St. Joseph's Prep outfielder Jawan McAllister is batting .565 with 12 runs scored. . . . Spring-Ford third baseman Connor Klemann was hitting .478 with seven RBIs through Tuesday. . . . Pennsbury's Brandon Garrett, a righthander and Rhode Island recruit, is 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 30 strikeouts. . . . Central Bucks East's catalysts on offense are second baseman Pat Reilly (.545 average, .706 on-base) and outfielder Vince Careghini (.500, 619). Patriots righthander Blair Killough is 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA and 12 Ks.


Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10

BASEBALL

Team Rec.

Records are through Tuesday.

Last week's rankings in parentheses.

1. Conestoga (8) 6-0

2. Coatesville (1) 5-1

3. Boyertown (2) 4-1

4. C.B. South (5) 5-1

5. Malvern Prep (7) 10-3

6. C.B. East (NR) 4-1

7. Pennsbury (NR) 5-1

8. Bonner-Prend. (3) 5-2

9. Strath Haven (NR) 6-0

10. St. Joe's Prep (NR) 7-2

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Archbishop Wood (5-2), La Salle (6-2), Methacton (4-1), Neshaminy (5-1), Neumann-Goretti (6-2), Springside Chestnut Hill (7-3).

- Rick O'Brien


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

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