Pope John Tops Holy Spirit With Big 7th Inning Rally


TJ Hunt
Director, PBR New Jersey

NORTH BRUNSWICK –– Sussex County vs. Atlantic County - two of the most opposite ends of the state, met yesterday in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire game at North Brunswick Community Park. Part of the Autism Awareness Challenge, an event put on each year involving top high school baseball teams, this game highlighted a slate of games over the weekend that were packed with excitement.

Pope John jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Holy Spirit roared back with five in the bottom of the 2nd to take, what looked like, a commanding 5-1 lead.

And it certainly seemed that way with Holy Spirit ace Alec Sachais on the bump. The 2019 RHP and Rider recruit was cruising through the first part of the game, with a fastball that was 87-90 topping at 91, a sharp 11/5 breaker for strikes at 76-78, accompanied by a harder changeup at 82-85 MPH.

The broad shouldered righty fanned 11, with the first nine outs of his outing coming coming via the "K." However, the Spirit defense was subpar - committing three errors behind him, and a few misplayed balls that happened to fall in for hits on the scorecard. That, with four walks won't help the pitch count situation. As dominant as Sachais was through the first part of the ballgame, he had to come out due to the pitch count limit after the 5th.

Pope John seemed to just linger for the right chance to pounce - and it did, with not much game left in the 7th. The Lions sent 10 batters to the plate in the 7th inning. With the help of three hits and three walks - Pope John pushed across four runs to take a 7-5 lead.

St. Bonaventure recruit 2019 LHP Jake Wells surrendered all five Holy Spirit runs in the 2nd inning, but only scattered four hits after. The lanky lefty mixed speeds and kept big time middle of the order bats St. John's recruit '20 3B Brandon Castellini and '19 Iona recruit Jimmy Pasquale to a combined 1-for-7 with a 2B and 1 RBI.

Momentum shifted in the 2nd when 2020 C Justin Jimenez took a Wells offering deep into the night over the LF fence for a 2-run homer - and all seemed to be going Holy Spirit's way early on. But Wells was not deterred from a big inning, and posted zeros across the board for the rest of the contest.

Pope John moves to an impressive 8-0 on the year, while Holy Spirit falls to 7-1.