Ryan Colbert’s grand slam powers Bishop Eustace past Ocean City

Ryan Colbert was supposed to take a pitch.

He also had the option to swing if he got something good to hit.

Colbert chose Door No. 2 and delivered the biggest blast of an afternoon filled with fireworks for the top-ranked Bishop Eustace baseball team on Tuesday.

Colbert drove a first-pitch fastball over the right-field fence for a first-inning grand slam to power Bishop Eustace to a 19-6 victory over Ocean City in an opening-round game of the 45th Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.

“We were in our system, and we’re supposed to work the pitcher,” said Colbert, a senior catcher. “But I figured he might try to ambush me with a fastball and he laid one right in there.”

Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said Colbert, like all the Crusaders, had the freedom to deviate from the planned patient approach at the plate.

“They all know — if they get a cookie, they can take it,” Tropiano said.

Bishop Eustace, the No. 1 team in the Inquirer Top 25, rapped 18 hits, including five home runs, in an imposing performance on a warm, windy afternoon on its  home field.

Junior Matt Orlando was 3-for-3 with his 100th career hit as well as a home run, and junior John Piacentino was 3-for-4 with a double and triple and four runs for Bishop Eustace (19-3), which advanced to meet West Deptford in the tournament quarterfinals Saturday at Deptford.

Mike Guzzardo, Joe Oczkowski and Chase Conklin also hit home runs for the Crusaders, who have scored 111 runs in their last seven games. Sky Duff was 2-for-3 with a double and pitched a complete game for the victory.

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Tom Gralish/Staff photographer

Bishop Eustace pitcher Sky Duff worked a complete game in 19-6 win over Ocean City.

“As soon as we got out that way in the first inning, especially against a good pitcher, I knew it was going to be one of those days,” Orlando said. “When our offense is hitting like that, I’ll take our chances against anybody.”

The game originally was scheduled to be played Saturday at Maple Shade but was rained out.

Syd Unsworth hit a home run and a double for Ocean City (15-4), the No. 6 team in the rankings. The Red Raiders substituted freely after falling behind 16-1 after three innings.

“That’s the best team we’ve seen,” Ocean City coach Andrew Bristol said of Bishop Eustace. “They hit 1-through-9. Once they started, it was ‘floodgates.’”

Orlando, a shortstop and pitcher who has committed to Maryland, collected his 100th career hit with a sharp single to center field in the first inning.

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Tom Gralish/Staff photographer

Bishop Eustace junior Matt Orlando was 3-for-3 with a home run and collected his 100th career hit in victory over Ocean City.

“It’s definitely something cool,” Orlando said. “To get it in a Diamond win, that adds to it.”

Later in the first inning, Colbert came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He drove the first pitch over the right-field fence with a blast that nearly reached Route 70.

“To do it in a Diamond game and help the team win a game like this, it makes it something special,” Colbert said.

Ocean City 100 32 – 6 6 1

Bishop Eustace 655 3x – 19 18 1

WP: Sky Duff. LP: Brandon Lashley.

2B: OC-Syd Unsworth, Shane Ferry. BE-Sky Duff, John Piacentino, Mike Guzzardo.

3B: BE-John Piacentino.

HR: OC-Syd Unsworth. BE-Ryan Colbert, Matt Orlando, Joe Oczkowski, Chase Conklin, Mike Guzzardo.


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