Cockill pitches La Salle to Class AAAA City Title

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER La Salle's baseball team gathers around championship plaque after shutting out Frankford to win the Class AAAA City Title.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER La Salle's baseball team gathers around championship plaque after shutting out Frankford to win the Class AAAA City Title.
Posted: May 31, 2013

TOM COCKILL long has maintained a presence on the city high school sports scene.

Please refrain, however, from asking him to list his coolest memories because everything tends to run together.

Cockill is now a senior at La Salle High, but many of his early moments were enjoyed as a spectator at Chestnut Hill Academy, which now goes by Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

His dad, Tom, is a gym teacher there. His uncle, Ed Aversa, is the equipment manager.

Ah, so that's why young Tom always had a special seat - in a folding chair, beyond the baseline closest to CHA's bench - for basketball home games.

"All I can say is, I always had a lot of fun at CHA's games," Cockill noted. "The players always looked after me, took me under their wings. I'd go to practices, too, and they'd let me shoot around with them. When you're a real little guy [he attended CHA through sixth grade], it's like you're watching pros."

Yesterday, Cockill looked like quite the seasoned surgeon.

As the baseball Explorers muffled Frankford, 8-0, for the Class AAAA City Title in a morning contest (11 o'clock start) at Ashburn Field, in South Philly's FDR Park, Cockill pitched a complete game.

The 6-1, 195-pound lefty scattered six hits (all singles), walked none and recorded 15 outs via grounders. Oh, and he fanned just one.

"Wish I had a couple more, but that's OK," he said. "They were hitting those grounders and my fielders were great, as always."

In the first go-'round for City Titles, from 1945 through 1979 (just one game matching the Public-Catholic champs), the last shutout was pitched by Southern's George Riley, a future MLBer, in 1974. Classification CTs were instituted in '09. Cockill's is the first at the AAAA level.

When this season began, Cockill wasn't sure how often he'd be able to serve the Explorers in much more than a spectating capacity, at least for important games. He was roughly the No. 4 guy on the pitching depth chart.

Then, he fared very well in a relief appearance vs. Cardinal O'Hara (four scoreless innings) and coach Joe Parisi made the decision to start him soon thereafter against Archbishop Ryan.

Dart-throwin' Tommy, he's not. But he can certainly pitch, and avoid getting rattled, and isn't that what it's all about?

"Back in Little League, I was always the kid who threw hard and blew the ball past everybody," Cockill said. "Even on the big fields, I still threw pretty hard. Going into ninth grade, I had some arm soreness and I've been this kind of pitcher ever since. I pitch to contact and let the guys make the plays. I can usually make the pitch when I have to.

"I'm pretty good with control. This was the fourth time, as I starter, I got through a game with no walks."

Hey, is that a world record for a young lefthander?

Frankford's guys, meanwhile, might become even more dismayed when they read that Cockill was only two-thirds of himself.

"I didn't have my slider," he said. "Don't know why. It just wasn't working. I stuck with fastballs and changeups. I got a lot of the grounders on the changeups.

"I threw decent sliders in the 'pen. Then I got to the mound and was bouncing them. I got a few strikes with them, but they weren't having their usual bite so [pitching coach Mike O'Connor] stayed away from them."

La Salle's biggest hit was Joe Picard's two-run, ground-rule double to center. Brad Schneider got home the first two runs, with a two-run single in the second inning, while AJ Grezeszak went 2-for-2 with a walk and three runs scored. They batted ninth and eighth, respectively.

Cockill, who lives in Flourtown, is bound for Mercer County (junior) College, in New Jersey, and plans to pursue exercise science.

Understandably, he's feeling pretty happy with the way his senior season has unfolded.

"We have a ton of pitchers," he said. "I challenged myself to pitch well whenever I got my chance, and it led to this."

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