Philadelphia High School Baseball

Message From Ryan: Never Stop Tryin' . . . 

  In 1998, Archbishop Ryan needed to win its final division game just to secure a
spot in the playoffs. The Raiders then stormed to four straight playoff victories,
outscoring their opponents, 26-10.

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Pitcher John Price (second from right) is mobbed after winning the CL crown.

Gene Peszek scores in title game by
avoiding a tag  . . . and a foot.

Coach Mike Lake . . .
During Stint at La Salle University

Catholic North (7-7)  
Archbishop Wood Lost
Archbishop Wood Lost
Conwell-Egan Won
Bishop Egan Lost
Bishop McDevitt Won
Bishop McDevitt Lost
Cardinal Dougherty Won
Cardinal Dougherty Lost
Father Judge Lost
Father Judge Lost
La Salle Won
La Salle Won
North Catholic Won
North Catholic Won
Cross Division (3-1)
(Counted in North Standings)
Archbishop Carroll Lost
Roman Catholic Won
St. Joseph's Prep Won
West Catholic Won
Archbishop Wood W, 5-2
La Salle W, 10-4
Monsignor Bonner W, 5-3
Father Judge (9 innings) W. 6-1
Tom DiEnno RF
Tom DeCree 1B
Kevin Corcoran C
Joe Coranico 3B
Gene Peszek CF
Neal Regan LF
John Price P
Al "Butch" Cantz 2B
Bryan Lyons SS
Tom DiEnno RF
Tom DeCree 1B
Kevin Corcoran C
Joe Coranico 3B
Gene Peszek CF
Neal Regan LF
John Price P
Al "Butch" Cantz 2B
Bryan Lyons SS
Daily News All-City
FIRST TEAM: John Price, P
SECOND TEAM: Joe Corsanico, INF
SECOND TEAM: Kevin Corcoran, C
Coaches All-Catholic
FIRST TEAM: John Price, P


Archbishop Ryan's Challenging Run to the 1998
Catholic League Baseball Championship . . .

This story was written after Ryan, just 10-8 in the regular season,
completed its four-game march through the Catholic League playoffs
by beating Father Judge, 6-1, in nine innings, for the championship . . .


By Ted Silary
It was two nights ago and John Price was wondering how he could unwind before making his third start in nine days for Archbishop Ryan High's sprinkled-with-stardust baseball team.
  Then it hit him:
  I have friends who belong to a fitness club . . . They can get me in on a guest pass . . . . While they lift weights, I can jump in the hot tub.
  In a hot tub. Yow!
  ``It was me and a bunch of old people, so I really didn't have anybody to talk to,'' Price said. ``I just sat in the bubbles and tried to relax.
  ``I was in there for 45 minutes. Until I got dizzy. The sign says, what, you're supposed to come out after 15 minutes? I was in my own little world. ''
  He remained there yesterday.
  Price, a sophomore righthander, bulldogged his way to a six-hitter with 11 strikeouts and just one walk as Ryan stunned Father Judge, 6-1, in nine innings, to win its first Catholic League baseball championship since 1984.
  The Raiders finished fourth in the Northern Division and thus had to win four playoff games to capture the title. Just to get into the playoffs, they had to score twice in the home seventh to eliminate co-contender Cardinal Dougherty on the final day of the regular season.
  Only one team in CL history has bettered Ryan's accomplishment. In 1993, Archbishop Wood won a fourth-place playoff to gain entry into the postseason party, then roared through undefeated.
  ``All I told the guys was, `Keep believing in yourselves. We're as good as anybody,' '' said coach Mike Lake, spitting out the words asfastasthis. ``This game is all mental. And what happened? These kids did not give up! ''
  On a chilly, windy, mostly cloudy day, Price and Judge's Josh Riordan, a senior lefthander, waged a vintage duel through eight innings. As youngsters, they had been teammates with Torresdale in the Devlin League and with Vogt in the Department of Recreation League.
  Little by little, the fans of the bitter Northeast Philly rivals increased the noise level and added to the atmosphere, although some comments yelled back and forth by pumped-up students were as blue as Judge's uniforms.
  On the field, dangerous situations were almost nonexistent through eight innings.
Judge had runners on second and third with two out in the second, but Tom Scollon flied out. Ryan had runners on first and third with one out in the fourth, but Joe Corsanico grounded into a doubleplay.
  Only one other time before the final inning did either team get a runner to second base, let alone beyond. In the sixth, Judge's Kris Dufner absorbed a fastball on his right shoulder and was bunted to second by Brian Donovan. However, Mike Gies lined out to left and Price struck out Tom Walsh.
  In Saturday's semifinal against Archbishop Carroll, Riordan was forced to leave after 2 1/3 innings because of sore ribs. He'd been waffled a few weeks earlier by a batting practice line drive.
  ``That kid Riordan pitched one heck of a fantastic game,'' Lake said enthusiastically. ``He kept us off-balance. He and John did great jobs. What a classic battle. Those two guys showed heart. ''
  Leadoff batter Tom DiEnno, 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, started Ryan's ninth with a groundball single to center.
  ``I wanted one more crack at Riordan,'' he said. ``I was seeing the ball better each at-bat. I just wanted to get on base and give us a chance to win. ''
  Tom DeCree followed with a bunt. Third baseman Mike Gies gloved the ball, but hesitated slightly and his throw to second baseman Brian Donovan, covering at first base, arrived a blink before DeCree. DeCree collided with Donovan, the ball popped out and Ryan had runners on second and third with nobody out.
  Judge coach Joe McDermott summoned righthander Dan Rash from the bullpen and pulled up his infielders. Kevin Corcoran (to Donovan's left) and Corsanico (over shortstop Dufner's head) delivered run-scoring singles that might have been outs with the infield back.
  ``Everything started to click, like it did all through the playoffs,'' Corcoran said.
  Gene Peszek was issued an intentional walk to load the bases and Judge momentarily regrouped as Neal Regan pounded into a third-to-home forceout. Price followed with a grounder to Donovan. He also fired to the plate, but the wide throw skipped off catcher Brian Kearney's glove and two runs scored. The final two runs scored on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Albert ``Butch'' Cantz.
  Judge's lone run scored on Pete Gabriele's double.
  In 13 previous playoff innings, Price allowed 14 hits and 10 walks while striking out 10 and getting two wins. In this one, he pitched ahead in the count to almost every single batter.
  How does one explain that?
  ``John's a different kind of kid every day,'' Corcoran, the catcher, said with a smile. ``It's real hard to explain what he's like. ''
  Here's a thumbnail sketch: Price has two tattoos on his arms - John on his right and a Grateful Dead logo on his left. He also has closely cropped, nearly white blond hair and hints of a mustache and goatee. Most important, he oozes a love of competition.
  Price first gained a hunk of athletic fame last football season, when he blocked a late extra point and enabled Ryan to end La Salle's 32-game winning streak, the longest in city-leagues history.
  Price made his other playoff starts last Tuesday and Saturday.
  ``I was thinking, `Can I have him come back again on three days' rest? ' '' Lake said. ``I'm not the kind of coach to hurt kids. When I asked him [Tuesday] how he felt, he said, `You're going to have to kill me to keep me out of there. This is my game. ' ''
  Said Price: ``My father told me before the game, `They're not going to beat you hitting the ball. Stay in control. Don't walk many people. Walks will kill you. ' Father knows best, I guess. ''
  In the end, the Hot Tub Guy did so well, his coach got a shower of water and ice cubes.

  This story was written after the Raiders bested La Salle, 10-4, in a second-round playoff . . .   

By Ted Silary
  It was May 21 and the baseball season at Archbishop Ryan High was three outs from ending.
  No one would admit it now, of course, but it's possible visions of Wildwood were dancing in some guys' heads.
  Or, perhaps some were thinking: Yeah, it's kind of sad things are over, but at least I won't have to come to practice anymore. At least now I can get a part-time job and put a little cash in my pocket.
  Ryan, the home team, was trailing Cardinal Dougherty, 1-0, in the seventh inning of a Catholic North regular-season finale that, in effect, was a playoff - the winner would get fourth place, the loser would get vacation.
  Bang! Gene Peszek ripped a leadoff double.
  ``All year,'' third baseman Joe Corsanico said, ``our bench was pretty quiet. But Gene's hit, that got everybody going. ''
  He paused for a moment and added, ``Really, it started this whole ride we're on right now. ''
  Corsanico was talking yesterday at La Salle University after the Raiders took another step in an ever-magical journey.
  Their latest victim, in a second-round North playoff, was second-place La Salle, 10-4. A day earlier at the same site, they'd conquered third-place Archbishop Wood, 5-2, in a first-round playoff.
  Getting back to Thursday against Dougherty, here's what happened after Peszek doubled: Tom DeCree singled, Bryan Lyons got a hit while trying to sacrifice, Chris Lorenc lofted a sacrifice fly, John Price was intentionally walked and Kevin Corcoran hit the first pitch over the leftfielder's head for an RBI single.
  Ryan 2, Dougherty 1.
  ``For three weeks, we hadn't been doing much offensively,'' coach Mike Lake said.
  ``When Gene hit that double, it was like something arose. The bench went nuts and that set us off. ''
  So did the results of the coaches' All-Catholic voting. Ryan placed senior outfielder Tom DiEnno and Price, a sophomore who was honored for his pitching, on the first team and no one on the second team.
  Corsanico and Corcoran, a catcher, must have been in the voting ballpark, one would think.
  ``That made a lot of us pretty mad, especially coach Lake,'' Corsanico said.
  ``At our next practice, he lost his temper when he was talking about it. He said there were some coaches around the league who were complaining that their teams got stiffed, and they had four All-Catholics.
  ``We've been pretty determined lately. We felt - all season, really - that we didn't get the kind of credit we deserved. As soon as we got into the playoffs, we knew the situation: This is our chance to prove what we're made of.
  ``Before the Wood game, people were saying, `Look what they think of you! They're not even throwing their ace! ' I don't even know. Was that their ace? Anyway, it gave us motivation. ''
  (Wood's starter, Doug Peiffer, and his reliever, Ryan Adams, both were second-team All-Catholic picks.)
  Heroes were numerous yesterday.
  Corsanico went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in, one coming on a first-inning single and two coming on a fifth-inning single. Price, who divided the game between first base and third base, went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI, stole three bases and scored three runs. Sophomore leftfielder Neal Regan went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI.
  ``Everybody's waking up,'' Lake said.
  ``These kids finally realize they can play with anybody,'' added assistant Joe Moore.
  The Raiders also received help in the form of six La Salle errors, which led to six unearned runs.
  ``This was a microcosm of our season,'' La Salle coach Joe Parisi said. ``You can make mistakes against average teams and win on talent alone. But not against a good team. ''
  By now, Corsanico, also a standout quarterback (and La Salle signee), should be accustomed to pressurized situations. But he acknowledged being nervous while playing against Wood.
  ``I was more comfortable today,'' he said. ``I just had a better feel at the plate. ''
  Corsanico entered the season thinking he might have a shot at cracking the rotation. But Price, Lorenc and Ralph Kane did well as starters and anyway, Lake was hesitant to take Corsanico's glove off the left side of the infield.
  Lorenc got the win, going 4 1/3 innings. Lefty Steve Torpey completed the fifth and yielded to Corsanico with one out in the sixth and runners on first and second. Corsanico prevented the inherited runners from checking in and also fashioned a scoreless seventh.
  ``I'd pitched in two league games as a reliever,'' he said. ``Coach did say he'd need me sooner or later. My curve was looking pretty good when I was warming up [while Ryan batted], but I didn't have it when I went to the mound. I had to rely on my fastball. Getting two more runs [on Price's single] made things easier going out there for the last inning.''


  Ted's scoresheet for Ryan in championship game . . . 


  Ted's scoresheet for Judge in championship game . . .


  This story was written after the Raiders started their playoff run with a victory over Wood . . .

By Ted Silary
  Some guys win elections because of their character. Others win because they are characters.
  To illustrate the latter, we give you Gene Peszek, Archbishop Ryan High's senior class president.
  About this time last year, Peszek was scurrying through Ryan's hallways, taping campaign slogans to almost every available inch of wall space.
  Give us a sample, my man.
  Peszek thought and thought and said it was really hard to remember, then finally acknowledged this gem was one of his:
Vote for Gene. He's great at Wiffle ball.
  No wonder he won.
  ``There were some that were worse, or goofier,'' Peszek said, laughing. ``I wouldn't want you to put them in the paper. ''
He added, ``I also got votes by giving away candy. ''
  Yesterday at La Salle University, Gene Peszek, a 6-1, 190-pound centerfielder, turned in a great game of hardball and twice hit the ball on the sweet spot.
  Batting fifth, Peszek (pronounced pezz-eck) went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in - on a two-run double and a solo homer - as the Raiders tripped Archbishop Wood, 5-2, in a first-round Catholic League Northern Division playoff.
  The homer, which came in the fifth inning and expanded Ryan's lead to 5-1, was Peszek's first as a varsity player.
It wasn't chintzy. The ball sailed over the fence in left-center and cleared the driveway on the fly before landing in shrubbery in front of a building.
  ``That was a great feeling,'' Peszek said. ``It was a 2-0 count and coach [Mike Lake] gave me the hit sign. It was a fastball right over the plate. I knew when I hit it that it was going to be out there pretty deep. I kind of gave it a quick look, then went into my trot.
  ``I could have had one home run this season, against Father Judge, but I got held at third base. It would have been close at the plate and we were losing, so it made sense for coach to hold me. ''
  In the third inning, singles by Tom DiEnno, Kevin Corcoran and Joe Corsanico loaded the bases and Peszek cracked a line drive that sailed over the head of leftfielder Tim Macrone, scoring two runs. Neal Regan (3-for-3) produced an RBI single and John Price hit a hard one-hopper that pitcher Doug Peiffer could only deflect.
  As the ball squirted away, Peszek headed for home. His hard half-slide, half-barrel-into dislodged the ball from catcher Matt Crawford's glove and gave Ryan another run.
  ``It was a bang-bang play,'' Peszek said. ``I slid kind of late and my knee went into the catcher's glove. I had to score somehow. Their coach [Jim DiGuiseppe] was upset, but even their catcher said it was a good baseball play. ''
  Price, a sophomore righthander, allowed six hits and six walks and struck out seven. He labored in the seventh, walking three and forcing in a run, but he ended the game with a flourish, getting Scott Duckworth on a called third strike.
  Peszek, who hopes to attend Widener, spent part of the school year acting as an intermediary between students with problems and administrators. But mostly, he tried to keep things light.
  ``We have two picnics every year,'' he said. ``One of my goals was to get the teachers more involved. At the picnic we had earlier this month, we had volleyball games against the teachers and also set up a dunk tank. ''
  Be glad you voted for Gene. He throws well enough to send someone into the dunk tank.
``I got Mrs. Pagan, one of our English teachers,'' he said.


  Recaps of Playoff Games . . .

At La Salle University
Ryan 5, Wood 2
    Gene Peszek went 2-for-3 with a two-run double and a solo homer for three RBI. The homer was his first as a varsity player and the ball landed in shrubbery across the driveway in left-center. Neal Regan went 3-for-3 with an RBI. John Price allowed six hits, fanned seven.
At La Salle University
Ryan 10, La Salle 4
    Joe Corsanico went 3-for-4 with three RBI and John Price went 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBI, three stolen bases and three runs scored. Neal Regan added two hits, two RBI. Six errors helped Ryan score six unearned runs. Rob Philipp homered for La Salle.
At La Salle University
Ryan 5, Bonner 3
    Ryan, 10-8 in league play, packed all of its scoring into the last two innings to stun the Friars, 17-1 in league play. Kevin Corcoran went 2-for-3 with a double, walk and two RBI. Ryan's three runs in the visiting seventh scored on catcher's interference and two walks. Ralph Kane (one inning) saved John Price's win. Bonner's top pitcher, Dan Mulholland, had to leave after five innings due to a back injury incurred while running the bases.
At La Salle University
Ryan 6, Judge 1 (9 inn.)
    Sophomore John Price pitched a six-hitter with 11 strikeouts and just one walk as the Raiders completed a four-win playoff run and captured their first title since 1984. Just to make the playoffs, Ryan needed to score twice in the home seventh on the final day of the regular season and eliminate co-contender Dougherty. Neither team scored through eight innings. In the visiting ninth, Ryan received back-to-back RBI singles from Kevin Corcoran and Joe Corsanico to make it 2-0. The other runs scored on an error (two), a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Albert "Butch" Cantz. For Judge, Pete Gabriele stroked an RBI double and Josh Riordan pitched three-hit ball over eight-plus innings.