The first matchup between the McDowell Trojans and Cathedral Prep Ramblers was more on the offensive side, especially in the sixth inning of that game. Prep would rally from three down for a five-run inning and would hold on to win round 1 against the Trojans 6-4. In the rematch on May 6, the game would become a duel between two of the best pitchers for their respective teams.
The tone and atmosphere of the night was set from the start, because after the very first pitch of the game, the home plate umpire stopped play and warned the Prep student section behind home plate. After a few minutes of discussion between both dugouts and the umpire, the game resumed play.
Even if some unnecessary comments were made by fans, that one brief incident early on never discredited the massive amount of support the team got from the Prep faithful. The cheers of students, alumni, and parents alike fueled the fire all game long.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” said junior starting pitcher Jacob Engel, “Having everyone being there, including the student section right behind home plate, it was awesome.”
McDowell starting pitcher and Louisville commit Dan Snyder was roughed up by the Ramblers in the first, walking four including Prep catcher Patrick Sullivan, who drove in the first and only run of the game with an RBI walk allowing star sophomore Cole Constable to score.
However, after the tough first inning, Snyder regained his rhythm and allowed only three hits the whole game en route to eleven strikeouts. But this didn’t matter to the pitcher opposite of him, junior Jacob Engel.
“He’s probably one of the best [pitchers] in Erie,” Engel said, “It’s just the way he goes about himself; his accomplishments, his commitment to Louisville, throwing 90 miles per hour, stuff like that, and like I said, one of the best in Erie.”
This was not the first time Engel and Snyder have squared off. They have had pitching duels in travel ball as well.
“I guess you could say he was one of the guys I kind of looked up to in Erie out of everyone else just because of how he plays,” Jacob said. “I’m happy that we got to share the field in a big game with bright lights like it was a few nights ago.
Engel spoke of the challenges of facing a pitcher like Snyder. “You just have to try and match him just because of everything he brings to the table,” Jacob said. “You really can’t prepare for him; you just got to follow his lead and match everything he does. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to face him again next year.”
Unlike Snyder, who was practically untouchable all but one inning, Engel was lights out from the moment he took the mound. The junior would go all seven innings, allowing no runs and six base runners all game while striking out seven and earning his second season win over the Trojans.
However, the defense around Engel may have been the X-factor of the game. The Ramblers committed zero errors between the infield of Alexander Vahey, Luke Costello, Mason Orlando, Jack Malec, and Patrick Sullivan, and the outfield of Colin Fiorelli, Cole Constable, and Jacob Cooper.
In the seventh inning, the defense had to lock down to seal the win. With the bases loaded, Engel forced a ground ball off of McDowell’s Curtis King. The ball rolled over to junior second baseman Mason Orlando, who bobbled the ball before recovering it and threw it to first at the very last second, securing the 1-0 victory for the Ramblers.
“I didn’t have any fears or anything going into the game,” Jacob said. “We knew we were gonna go in and take care of business, we just had to do it. But in the seventh inning, I can’t lie, I was nervous, but you want those moments when growing up as a kid. It’s seventh inning with the bases loaded, so it was a little nerve-racking, but it ended up for the better.”
The Ramblers’ eleven-game win streak was snapped following a 9-5 loss at Harbor Creek. They are 13-3 and second in District 10 Region 5, with a huge stretch of games coming up with Mercyhurst Prep on Saturday and St. Joseph’s in Buffalo on Sunday.