CAMDEN – It was over in five innings, but St. Mark’s High really only needed one in its baseball visit to sunny, breezy Caesar Rodney on Wednesday.
The Spartans erupted for six runs in a bat-around first inning and kept the hits coming in a 16-1 rout of the Riders shortened to five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Senior left-hander Sean Gilardi made sure no monumental comeback could occur by silencing CR on two hits with six strikeouts.
“It was a good day for baseball,” St. Mark’s coach Matt Smith said. “The sun was out, we hit the ball a little bit and Sean pitched a strong game. He doesn’t throw real hard; but, he’s got command of all his pitches and is around the strike zone. He can throw all of his pitches on any count, which makes it difficult for hitters.”
St. Mark’s improved to 2-0 and has outscored Hodgson and CR, two traditionally competitive teams, 28-1 while allowing two hits in 10 innings.
But the Spartans’ biggest game yet comes Thursday at home against Catholic rival St. Elizabeth.
St. Mark’s collected 13 hits but also took advantage of eight walks, three hit batters and one error.
Leadoff hitter Tyler Kaczmarczyk, the senior DH, ignited the runfest by homering over the center-field fence on a 1-2 pitch to start the game.
“We wanted to jump on them early,” Kaczmarczyk said. “I just wanted to set the tone, get a good pitch, make something happen, get our offense going. We just wanted to get some runs on the board for Sean. He shut them down.”
Gilardi was happy to have them as he took the mound with a 6-0 lead to begin his senior season.
“I’m just trying to pound the zone more,” said Gilardi, who balked in the only CR run, “get my fielders involved — throw strikes, keep it low, mix up pitches. I worked more on my endurance during the winter so hopefully that’ll help me. Being out there last year, I’ve experienced it, and I just want to be better as a senior.’’
The first inning also featured a bases-loaded triple by junior third baseman Chris Ludman.
Kaczmarczyk finished with three hits and three RBI. Ludman had two hits and four RBI.
Center fielder Andrew Reich, the first-team All-State pitcher from last year who no-hit Hodgson last week, had three hits and an RBI and shortstop Brian Gilardi, the pitcher’s brother, had two hits and an RBI.
St. Mark’s added six more runs in the fourth inning, when it sent 11 batters to the plate. In all, seven Spartans had hits, seven drove in runs and nine scored.
“I thought we were aggressive at the plate,” Smith said, “looking for a ball up in the zone, and we had a lot of quality at-bats.”
Caesar Rodney, which started four sophomores, one of its youngest lineups ever, fell to 1-2. But coach Rich Szvitich appreciated the lesson it provided with games against Concord on Thursday and Archmere on Saturday looming.
“They’ve never seen a guy like that before,” Szvitich said of Sean Gilardi. “They’ve got two good ones, with him and Reich, and the way they hit the ball top to bottom, and don’t make mistakes in the field, they could win the whole thing.
“They were younger last year and took some lumps so we can use that as example of where we want to be. We knew going into the year it was going to be like this.”
Contact Kevin Tresolini at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.