Baseball | St. Rita goes 4-1 over five-day stretch of games
By Steve Millar
Ryder Johnson knows his role in St. Rita’s offense.
Hitting in the leadoff spot, the senior outfielder looks to wreak havoc and put pressure on the opposing defense.
“With my speed, being at the top, it’s my job to get on base and start rallies,” Johnson said. “I scratch and claw to do whatever I can to get on base.”
Johnson gave the Mustangs a major spark against Providence on April 18, producing a key bunt single. and showing off his legs with a triple. It all helped add up to a 7-1 win for visiting St. Rita in a Catholic League Blue game.
“The greatest compliment you can give any baseball player is that he’s ‘a baseball player,’ and that’s what Ryder is,” St. Rita coach John Nee said. “Here’s another guy that doesn’t have any (college recruiting) ratings, but I know he’s a baseball player and I’ll go to battle with him any day of the week.”
Junior Louie Sisto dominated on the mound for the Mustangs (16-4, 8-1), allowing one earned run on six hits over six innings for the win. He struck out nine and did not issue a walk.
Illinois State recruit Sir Jamison Jones finished 2-for-4 with an RBI double for St. Rita. Tommy Atkinson had an RBI single and Omar Alday scored two runs.
Ohio State recruit Ryan Hussey started on the mound for Providence (15-2, 6-1) and struck out eight through a scoreless first four innings.
The Mustangs broke through in the fifth, starting with Sisto and Alday drawing back-to-back walks in the bottom two spots of the lineup.
That set the stage for Johnson, who dropped down a bunt single. Hussey tried to throw Johnson out at first, but his throw sailed high, allowing the first run of the game to score.
“Coach gave me a bunt sign before it and I popped it up,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘I better get this one down.’”
Johnson continued to use his speed to put pressure on the Celtics, stealing home on a double steal later in the inning as St. Rita added three more runs.
Johnson’s RBI triple highlighted a three-run seventh inning as St. Rita pulled away.
“We’ve been on a good winning streak here,” Johnson said. “We know that we’re good. But beating a good team like this really boosts our confidence and we’re ready to keep the train going.”
Sisto, meanwhile, shut down a Providence offense that had been on fire, scoring 28 runs in its previous game against Lockport.
“Louie was great,” Nee said. “He’s a gutty kid. We feel good about him on the mound. He’s been really solid for us. We know what kind of pitcher we have with him. A lot of people like to measure based on velocity and everything, we measure based on heart. That’s what he’s got.
“He’s proven himself. When you can go on the road and hold a team like this to one run, that’s obviously huge.”
The win was the sixth in a row for the Mustangs, who stretched the streak to seven with a 10-2 win over Leo on April 19. Timmy O’Connell went 3-for-4 with two runs and Haron Abuelhija earned the victory on the mound, allowing two earned runs in five innings.
Providence struck back for some revenge April 20 in a 10-2 decision, but the Mustangs responded with a 6-2 win April 21 over Fenwick. Joey Smith went 2-for-4 with an RBI against the Friars, while Noah Robinson took the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
St. Rita capped the week with a 7-5 road win over rival Mount Carmel on April 22. Atkinson was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs. Chris McGrath held the Caravan to three earned runs on just one hit in 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.
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