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Farewell from the hill

Baseball has taken Kevin Mack far in life.

The lifelong Northeast resident has traveled the nation with his various squads — the Archbishop Ryan baseball team, RBI Phillies and American Legion — and his next stop will be West Virginia.

He’s headed to Concord University, to be exact, in Athens, W. Va., about eight hours from his Northeast home.

“It’s really nice down there. I loved it when I visited,” said Mack, who will graduate from Archbishop Ryan on June 6. “It’s very mountainous and quiet — nothing like the city. I really liked the baseball program and I’m excited to see what happens.”

A four-year varsity baseball player, Mack will take plenty of experience with him when he heads south. An All-Catholic athlete in two positions — first-team on the mound and second-team as an outfielder — Mack went 4–2 on the hill this season with a 2.75 ERA. He hurled 49 innings, recording 22 strikeouts.

The Raiders finished 8–4 in the Catholic League Red Division, good enough for second place and playoff contention.

“Overall, the team played up to our expectations,” said Archbishop Ryan coach Ron Gerhart. “It was a tough road finding the right players in the right positions and in the batting order, but once we found the right combination, we started to play well.”

Their promising season came to a premature halt, however, when Archbishop Ryan fell to La Salle, 5–3, in the Catholic League quarterfinals on May 25.

Mack pitched a no-hitter during the first two innings of action, and he also put Ryan on the scoreboard early with a first-inning RBI double. La Salle came back right away, scoring one in the third. Mack struck once again in the fourth, this time getting hit by a pitch and scoring again thanks to a single by junior Mike Anusky — and some heads-up base-running.

The rest of the game see-sawed in a similar fashion — La Salle and Ryan scored in the fifth, and the Raiders had a 3–2 lead. By the final two innings, however, La Salle’s bats had become hot, and Ryan’s were no match.

La Salle’s Joe Forcellini, Carey Baiada, Mike Piscopo and PJ Acierno all singled in the sixth, and a triple by Jules Arici in the seventh sealed the deal for the Explorers.

Final score: La Salle, 5; Archbishop Ryan, 3.

“It was a tough loss. I kept giving up runs out there,” said Mack, who gave up 10 hits, walked two batters and struck out one. “I felt confident out there. I woke up feeling great today. I thought it was going to be a good day. It sucks.”

Despite his squad’s departure from postseason play, the Raiders did have a successful season. They went 11–8 overall, outscoring opponents by 18 runs.

“Our schedule was probably the toughest non-league schedule,” said Gerhart. “There wasn’t one day when you could take a breather. Every game was competitive and challenging. I was pleased with the way we finished.”

“I’m happy with the season overall,” added Mack, who finished the season with a .364 batting average. “We made it into the playoffs, which was our first goal. I wish we could have gotten a little further, but I guess everything has to come to an end.”

As one door closes, however, another opens.

Although his career at Archbishop Ryan is over, Mack isn’t finished on the diamond — not by a long shot. He’ll play for the RBI Phillies this summer, and also team up with his American Legion team.

“It’s a lot less competitive and I really love to travel, so it should be a fun summer,” said Mack, now in his fifth year with the RBI Phillies (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) squad.

Of course, staying busy is nothing new for Mack.

His athletic resume has grown strong — including one season of football, three years of soccer and four years of swimming and baseball — at Archbishop Ryan.

This year, he was team captain for the Raiders’ swimming and baseball squads. He also has earned honors throughout his time at the Academy Road school.

“It keeps me competitive and it keeps me in shape,” Mack said of his athletic endeavors. “Next year I’ll concentrate just on baseball. Baseball has always been my favorite, but I think I’ll miss the other sports.”

Mack plans to continue his career as a pitcher for the Division II Mountain Lions.

“I’m really excited to pitch at the next level,” said Mack, who is armed with an 81 mile-per-hour fastball, a changeup, slider and curve. “I can’t believe it’s almost time to graduate. This whole year flew by. I know I’ll miss it here. I have a lot of good friends from Ryan. There are so many people in the school, and with all the sports I’ve played, I knew a lot of great people.” ••

Sports editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at myerkov@bsmphilly.com

In other Catholic League playoff action:

Monsignor Bonner, 10; Father Judge, 0: After defeating Cardinal O’Hara, 6–0, in the first round of the Catholic League playoffs on May 24, the Crusaders’ season ended at the hands of Monsignor Bonner in the quarterfinals the following afternoon.

Father Judge had only one hit against Bonner, falling 10–0 in six innings. The Crusaders end their season 4–8 in the Catholic League Red Division and 9–13 overall. ••

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