N-G's Pritchett trumps Bloomsburg's ace en route to victory

Posted: June 06, 2014

MAYBE NOW Ethan Pritchett should be on Stanford's radar? After outdueling Bloomsburg High's Stanford-bound ace yesterday in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals, perhaps the righthander for Ss. Neumann-Goretti should be on the Cardinal radar.

Not sure college recruiting works that way, but there's no rush. The 6-3, 210-pounder, who already possesses uncommon poise for a sophomore, has plenty of time to impress.

And his complete-game, two-hit masterpiece opposite Colton Hock, one of the state's best arms, did just that. Pritchett struck out nine and walked two (one intentionally), while Hock fanned 10, gave up four hits and walked one.

"I knew that if I just threw strikes, my team would back me up," Pritchett said. "I knew it was a big game, and, knowing that he was on the mound, I had to bring my best."

The Saints prevailed, 1-0, at Parkland High in Allentown thanks to a Hock wild pitch in the third inning that allowed Brian Verratti (1-for-2) to score from third.

La Salle knocked off Hazleton, 3-1, in Game 2 of the doubleheader. On Monday, N-G will face Loyalsock Township, the top seed from District 4. The Explorers will face Spring-Ford, the fourth seed from District 1.

Perhaps most impressive - Pritchett didn't necessarily have his best. The Saints' No. 3 starter (the trio calls itself the "Big Three") struggled to find the zone early, tossing 29 strikes to 22 balls through three innings, while Hock cruised with 18 strikes to only four balls.

However, Pritchett still nattily navigated every jam, ending five innings via strikeout, and strolling calmly to the dugout each time. So, where does all the poise come from?

"My dad," said Pritchett, who transferred from Paul VI High in New Jersey not far from the family home in Camden. "My dad [Phil] just tells me the mental game is the most important thing."

He also has a few good teammates to learn from. Junior Pat Doudican, the PCL Blue Division Pitcher of the Year, went 1-for-3 yesterday as a designated hitter. Senior Charlie Jerla went hitless in left, but, as a pitcher, owns a 22-inning scoreless streak since the playoffs.

Even after striking out Coty Kashner looking to end the game, Pritchett's still pulse seemed steady while his teammates mobbed him near the mound.

"As a pitcher, I don't think you should get too high or too low," he said. "Seven-inning games, and when you get to college and pro it's nine innings, so if you get too high or too low, it's just wasted energy. I think."

Postgame celebrations shouldn't count, but even as a slew of Saints tackled yesterday's star, Pritchett still seemed reluctant to let loose. Somebody should have yelled, "Hey, off the merchandise!"

Stanford might not be calling, but Pritchett said he has gotten some interest from Boston College, Old Dominion and Maryland. With a piercing fastball and knee-buckling curve, Pritchett could become quite the commodity with more hard work.

His father gets the credit for giving him the poise, but his mother, Lisa, gets the credit for giving him rides.

The family still lives in Camden, so Pritchett hitches at a ride to school with Mom at 6 a.m. on her way to work in Philadelphia. She is also the one who introduced him to the game, signing him up for rec leagues when he was 8 or 9.

As for Stanford . . .

"Ahhh, I don't know," Pritchett said with a smile. "It's a tough school."

There is still plenty of time for college suitors, and Pritchett is already somewhat a student of the game, sporting No. 42 because of former major leaguers Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera. In the Saints' Catholic League championship run, Pritchett also became the first African-American to earn a CL playoff victory, according to TedSilary.com.

"It's a big accomplishment," Pritchett said. "It's an honor, but other than, that it's about championships. Personal titles don't really mean too much just as long as we win championships."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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