Rondinelli was swept in the Class B Championship Series.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS — Winning baseball certainly seems to follow catcher Ed Rohan.
The Ursuline High graduate backstopped the Irish to state appearances in his junior and senior seasons (finishing Division III state runners-up in 2006).
And for the second straight season, Rohan’s summer-league team, R&J Trucking, has captured the Class B Championship Series.
“They’re both very exciting to be in,” said Rohan after R&J Trucking defeated Rondinelli Tuxedo, 9-1, on Wednesday at Cene Park to sweep the best-of-five championship series. “It’s big to win a Class B championship.”
Rohan shared the triumph with Ursuline teammates Adam Sepesy (pitcher) and Joe Wielbruda (second baseman).
Sepesy, who tossed a four-hitter, said Rohan is the reason he joined R&J for his final season in the 18-year-old league after playing for Wharmby Sports last summer.
“They didn’t play me too much last year,” Sepesy said. “I got released.”
Sepesy chose R&J because “my catcher, Eddie, plays for them. He knows how I pitch.
“He’s one of the best baseball players I’ve ever played with,” Sepesy said. “He’s always calm out there.”
Rohan, who will attend Winthrop University in South Carolina, said Sepesy “was a big help to our team this year. His ball is always moving and tonight his control wasn’t bad.”
Slider on duty
R&J coach Andy Timko said Sepesy told him that “his slider was working today so our pitching coach started calling more sliders.
“He’s wanted the ball since we started the season and everytime we’ve given him the ball, he’s come through for us,” said Timko of Sepesy.
“When he throws strikes, he’s pretty tough to hit from the left side,” Timko said. “He mixes it up, he’s got a good curveball and he thinks he can pitch, and that’s the biggest key.”
Rondinelli scored its run in the second inning when Andy Dobson drew a lead-off walk and scored on Phil Double’s groundout.
A trio of three-run innings sent R&J to its second straight title. Rohan’s third-inning triple off Rondinelli pitcher Cory McGinnis scored Wielbruda and Matt Pitzulo to put R&J ahead for keeps. Rohan then scored on Joe Iacobuci’s single.
Two walks and two errors helped R&J open up a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning, with Pitzulo and Xavier Godoy driving in runs.
In the six inning, two walks and another error led to another three runs.
Praise from Gorvet
“The best team won,” Rondinelli coach Tony Gorvet said. “They deserved it. They are a well-coached team and they outplayed us in all three games. We made 11 errors in three games — you’re not going to win a series against a good team like that.
“I don’t want to take anything away from my kids,” Gorvet said. “We had a good season, we’re looking forward to playing in the Connie Mack and NABF tournaments in town.”
Despite Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep, Timko said, “it still wasn’t safe. I wasn’t comfortable — that’s a good ballclub over there.”
Timko said R&J adopted the underdog role “because it seems it’s usually the Rondinellis and Astro Falcons [in the final]. So for R&J to win [twice] feels pretty good.”
Timko credited his batting lineup for taking charge.
“The second time through the [batting] order, we got a better look at [McGinnis],” Timko said. “We didn’t see him pitch this year. The second time through the order, we got to him a little bit.”
Last year, R&J overcame a series deficit against Astro Falcons to win. Rohan said he enjoyed having the series lead.
“It’s a lot more relaxing without the pressure of one-and-out,” Rohan said.