May 12, 2021

Junior Lefty DiMaggio Produces Mound Gem As Hun Baseball Blanks NY Power Poly Prep 4-0

MOUND GEM: Hun School junior star Ryan DiMaggio delivers a pitch last Wednesday against Poly Prep Country Day (N.Y.). DiMaggio came up big in the clash with the New York powerhouse, striking out eight and giving up two hits in earning a shutout as Hun prevailed 4-0. The Raiders, now 15-1, play at Seton Hall Prep on May 14 and at Pope John XXIII on May 16. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ryan DiMaggio didn’t have his best stuff as he pitched in the first inning for the Hun School baseball team last Wednesday against visiting New York powerhouse Poly Prep Country Day.

The junior lefty gave up a hit to the leadoff batter and then picked him off first. The second hitter reached first base on an error, stole second, and got to third on a wild pitch. DiMaggio, though, was able to retire the next two hitters to get out of the jam unscathed.

“In the first inning I had a fastball but the off speeds were a little off,” said DiMaggio.

“Sometimes it happens in the first inning, I felt a little tight, a little sore.”

Consulting with Hun pitching coach Steve Garrison between innings, DiMaggio realized that he had to mix his pitches to stymie Poly Prep.

“We talked about after the first inning, my fastball was there so if I kept throwing that they would have touched me so we got that,” said DiMaggio.

“Right in the third inning all of my off speed got there. I felt the change up and just having those three or four pitches really got them caught off guard.”

Getting his breaking stuff going, DiMaggio found a rhythm, striking out the side in the second inning. DiMaggio got a lift from his teammates in the bottom of the third when Carson Applegate smacked a two-run homer and Ben Petrone followed with a solo blast to put the Raiders up 3-0.

“That was huge, we were in the dugout after Carson hit a home run and we were going crazy and then Ben hit his,” said DiMaggio.

“He hit that and everyone went crazy. We knew that was a turning point because that doesn’t happen to them.”

Buoyed by that outburst, DiMaggio got stronger as the game went on, ending up with eight strikeouts and yielding only two hits in going the distance as Hun prevailed 4-0.

“I said to my boys when I came in, I think that sixth inning, I felt the most comfortable,” said DiMaggio.

“The ball was coming out the best in those sixth, seventh innings. That is where I felt most confident. Once we put three on the board, I was saying sit back, you don’t need to do too much.”

In reflecting on his performance, DiMaggio credited the influence of Garrison, a former Hun star hurler who went on to pitch in the pro ranks, including a short stint with New York Yankees.

“It is just someone who you want to go to if you have to,” said DiMaggio.

“I text him all the time when I am going to have my bullpen. He has been through it, he is a lefty like me. I say it every time, I want you to be here to work with me and look at what I am doing Having him here is a tremendous resource. In freshman year, I only had a fastball and a curveball; now I have fastball, curveball, slider, change up. That is all because of him 100 percent. Coming here every day, he helps me, whether it is pitching, location. Whatever I need to work on, he has something for it.”

DiMaggio, who has committed to attend Boston College and play for its baseball team, is enjoying getting the chance to bat and also to play first base when he isn’t on the mound.

“In college, I will just be a pitcher but I love hitting,” said DiMaggio, who had a double against Poly Prep.

“It is just fun and exciting; everyone who gets on base gets to do their celebration at second.”

Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto was excited by DiMaggio’s mound effort against Poly Prep.

“Ryan wanted the ball and he brought his best stuff — he was great,” said Monfiletto.

“I think he just trusted himself, he didn’t try to do too much. He didn’t lose confidence in his breaking stuff. He wasn’t really feeling it that much in the first inning. He regrouped in the second inning and kept going with it and had a lot of success today. He built the confidence back up on the breaking stuff. It was the best I have ever seen him.”

The best sequence of the game for Hun came with the back-to-back homers by Applegate and Petrone.

“It is big-time baseball, it was great,” said Monfiletto. “It was big-time players that rose to the occasion in Carson and Ben. They put two fantastic swings that we see almost every single day in practice and they put it in the game and competition. It was really, really exciting. That was a fun inning.”

The Raiders kept on having fun the rest of the week, defeating Lawrenceville 7-2 on Thursday to clinch the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) title and then beating Holy Spirit 7-4 last Saturday to improve to 15-1.

“Our guys see a lot of rankings on and we are not eligible for those rankings so I think we use every single opportunity that we possibly can to prove to everybody that we can hang with the big dogs in the state,” said Monfiletto.

“I feel like every single opportunity we have to play a really good team and a really good program and we play well and compete, it is absolutely a confidence booster. We hope to just keep riding it.”

With Hun playing at Seton Hall Prep on May 14 and at Pope John XXIII on May 16, the Raiders will get the chance to build more confidence.

“Our pitching has been phenomenal,” said Monfiletto in assessing his squad’s sizzling start.

“We have had really good approaches at the plate which is something we work on constantly. They come in with tremendously manicured swings and then as a coaching staff we try to take those swings and develop an approach at the plate to compete in a game and they are executing it perfectly.

DiMaggio and his teammates, for their part, are enjoying competing at a high level.

“I think it is just the confidence we bring to every game,” said DiMaggio.

“We come to every game saying look, we don’t get the recognition because we have the PGs. We don’t have the rankings, no one really knows about us. They know we have commits, they know we have bodies. We come out saying you don’t know what is about to hit you. The energy that we bring too is big. We get one hit and everyone goes crazy. We have that little fiesta thing where you jump in when someone scores.”