By Ryan Fennell
Red Bank – It wasn’t hard to predict that the first matchup of the year between Red Bank Catholic and Saint John Vianney, A Central division and historical rivals, would be a battle.
Pitching and power were the weapons of choice in this first encounter.
Both starting pitchers went 7 strong innings and both offenses were explosive as SJV came out on top, 4-1, at Count Basie Field in Red Bank last Friday morning.
SJV’s Katie Beriont pitched brilliantly, striking out 11, allowing four hits and one earned run, while not walking a batter.
RBC’s Emily Simon matched Beriont in effectiveness in every inning except one.
In the top of the fourth, Simon got two quick outs on pop ups to short and first from the Lancers’ three and four batters. Beriont, batting fifth, then laced a double down the right field line and moved to third on a single to left-center from Erica Krumbine.
Catcher Kate Baron stepped to the plate and took an inside pitch from Simon down the left field line and out for a three-run homerun and a 3-0 lead.
In the Caseys turn in the fourth, Beriont also retired the three and four batters for two quick outs before allowing a solo blast to deep left-center field from Sarah Dnistrian.
The Lancers would add a run on a sac-fly from Jackie Gallagher in the seventh, but the runners-on when the ball found the other side of the fence for the Lancers in the fourth proved to be the difference in the game.
“It came down to one pitch really,” Red Bank Catholic head coach Tony Flego said. “We made a mistake and she [Baron] hit it solid. It was a great game. You’re not going to face a better pitcher around. [Beriont] hit her spots and we battled. I was proud of our kids because we battled. That’s all I can ask for.
“We accept the fact that we played well, but we lost,” Flego added. “It’s great we played well and battled a great team, but we get another shot at it and I’m sure we’ll get another shot after that, too. The girls proved to themselves today that they can play with a team like this.”
“It’s always nice,” Saint John Vianney head coach Kim Lombardi said of the win. “They always have a well put together team. It’s our little rivalry but, at the same time, it’s always a good competitive game.”
Lombardi noted that Baron, the Lancers’ catcher, has only been behind the plate for the last two weeks, having played right field prior.
“She’s doing a great job,” Lombardi said. “She’s really taken to the role nicely.”
Baron has also taken on a more confident role at the plate according to Lombardi.
“In the preseason I talked to her about stepping up and hitting in the big situations and she did. She came through at the plate today.”
“I knew that Coach wanted us to step up our at bats with patience, so I’ve been working really hard on watching the pitch and not swinging at bad pitches,” Baron said. “Inside’s my spot and I just hit it and that’s what we needed.
“I’ve never caught before,” Baron said. “We’ve [Baron and Beriont] been working together every day for two or three hours.”
“I think it’s going well,” Beriont said of the newly fashioned battery. “She’s really athletic. We’re friends so we’re very comfortable with each other.”
Lombardi also admitted that she allowed Beriont to call her own game against RBC, the first time Lombardi said she has ever allowed a player she coached to call her own game.
“I’m very confident with her and our defense,” Lombardi said.
“It’s a feeling of a lot more trust from your coach,” Beriont said. You know not only what you want to call but also you think what your coach would be calling too.”
The teams meet again in two weeks on Thursday, Apr. 25 at 3:45 at Saint John Vianney High School.