Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Ro Mahantyretired the first seven batters he faced Tuesday. The right-hander went on to strike out six, including his final three batters in the sixth. He also induced eight groundouts, the highlight of which came in the fourth on an efficient inning-ending double play.
Hillsdale was firing on all cylinders Tuesday in a 10-1 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral.
The Knights (3-2) banged out 11 hits in support of Ro Mahanty’s first varsity win, as the junior right-hander dealt for six innings of two-hit ball.
Not bad for a kid who only starting pitching last year in the Hillsdale frosh-soph ranks. But now, Mahanty figures to be one of the three mainstays in the Knights’ pitching rotation along with senior right-hander Chandler Vieira and junior right-hander Adam Schembri heading into Peninsula Athletic League play next Tuesday against El Camino.
“[Mahanty] was lights out,” Hillsdale manager James Madison said.
“He kept them off-balance and he’s getting better … every time he steps on that mound. He’s one of those guys where you think you know who your aces are and he comes up in one or two outings and kind of shakes up the rotation.”
Coming off his varsity debut in which he dazzled for four no-hit innings against Galileo, Mahanty retired the first seven batters he faced Tuesday. The right-hander went on to strike out six, including the final three batters he faced. He also induced eight groundouts, the highlight of which came in the fourth on an efficient inning-ending double play.
“Once I get in that rhythm, I really have just got to work on getting that first pitch,” Mahanty said. “Once I get that first pitch strike, I feel like I can throw anything with the ultimate confidence that I want to.”
Meanwhile, Mahanty — also the Knights’ leadoff hitter — helped his own cause as Hillsdale made a statement with the bats. After stranding the bases loaded in the first with nothing to show for it, the Knights went on to score in every inning thereafter.
Even though Hillsdale entered the game batting .294 as a team, Madison said the team hasn’t been performing to its potential at the plate.
“We’ve really been struggling to swing the bats as well as we want to,” Madison said. “We’ve just been working on it — just grinding.”
The grind paid off Tuesday as every Hillsdale starter contributed a knock to the hit parade.
Hillsdale got on the board in the second against Sacred Heart Cathedral starter Diego Gonzalez. After Taran Poss led off with a single, Vieira reached on an infield error. Darian Wolff laid down a bunt that went for a single to load the bases. Then Mahanty lined a two-run single to center, scoring Poss and Vieira. After a sacrifice bunt by Riki Urata, Wolff got thrown out at the plate on an Andrew Yarak single. But cleanup hitter Conner Wallace came up with a clutch single to score Mahanty. Yarak then scored on a wild pitch to give Hillsdale a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Sacred Heart Cathedral scored its only run of the afternoon. Joe Rinaldi was hit by a pitch then moved to second on a two-out walk to Justin Marquez. Senior first baseman Tyler Martinez followed with an RBI double to left to score Rinaldi, trimming Hillsdale’s lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the frame, however, the Knights got it back and then some. With SHC junior right-hander Matt Carlin on in relief, sweet-swinging lefty Anthony Leary sparked a rally with a one-out single. Poss walked. After Leary advanced to third on a wild pitch, Poss stole second, causing an errant throw into center field by the SHC catcher which allowed Leary to score. Vieira followed with an RBI double to plate Poss, staking Hillsdale to a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Urata was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning then stole second. With two outs, Jordan Mann singled to left to score Urata, giving the Knights a 7-1 lead.
Facing SHC reliever Ramiro Gonzalez in the fifth, Hillsdale drew three straight one-out walks to Vieira, Wolff and Mahanty to load the bases. Urata cashed in with a two-RBI single to center to scoring Vieira and Wolff, giving the Knights a 9-1 lead.
In the sixth, the Knights once again loaded the bases. Wallace was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, Mann walked and Leary was hit by a pitch. With junior right-hander Nick Powell into the game for SHC, Vieira drew an RBI walk to score Yarak, capping the day’s scoring.
“I don’t think we played particularly well,” Sacred Heart Catherdral manager Brian Morgan said. “But I think Hillsdale did and sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say they were the better team today.”