WARWICK, R.I. -– Whoever said a team can never have enough pitching must have had Catholic Memorial in mind.
Including Saturday’s non-league game at perennial Rhode Island power Hendricken, the Knights are in a stretch where they play five games in eight days.
“We have six guys that have pitched this year,” coach Hal Carey said after the Knights clipped the Hawks, 7-1. “(Pat) Hurley is our clear number one. But after that, everyone can throw well on a given day.
“We’re going to need them all because we have five games in eight days. Two are makeups (including a Sunday game against Malden Catholic).”
Since junior right-hander Sean Heelen went the distance it allowed Carey to avoid using any relief pitchers –- which means the Knights (9-6) could be in good shape as they seek to qualify for the MIAA playoffs.
Heelen allowed four hits and three walks (the run was unearned), and struck out six. Moreover, he threw 59 of 95 pitches for strikes.
“I tried to give it all I had on the mound so we could save our pitchers for next week, especially with some big Catholic Conference games coming up including Xaverian and Malden Catholic,” Heelen said. “And we have a big game against Brockton on Monday. “I tried to give it all I had and coach was happy.”
One reason Heelen was able to muffle the Hawks (16-3) was that he utilized a new pitch.
“I’ve been trying to incorporate a slider and this was the first game I actually threw it,” he said. “So, I tried to come in with a lot of off-speed (pitches), which I usually do. And I try to work as quickly as I can so the batters don’t any time.
“I try to go out there and throw strikes and try to keep my team in it. I had some help from the catcher, Kevin White.”
Arguably nobody appreciates a pitcher’s ability to work fast more than the position players.
In this game, Heelen retired nine Hawks on three pitches or less; the Knights only made one error; and the team turned a double play.
“I try to stay in a rhythm on the mound so the fielders don’t get lethargic, especially in the outfield,” Heelen said. “As long as I throw strikes and they put the ball in play I know my teammates will make plays.”
Perhaps the most notable Hawk Heelen kept in check was senior pitcher/outfielder Tom Pannone, who already has signed a letter of intent to play his college baseball at the University of Miami.
Pannone was robbed of a hit in the first when his blooper to left was snared by Garrett Ewanowski who made a head-first dive.
First baseman Todd MacDonald made a nice pick on a hard grounder in the third.
And Pannone went down swinging in the fifth.
Heelen helped himself by going 2-for-four with an RBI while Brian McCann smacked a pair of doubles plus a single and drove in two runs.
Hendricken’s lone run came in the second when Rich Bacon reached on CM’s lone error and scored on Justin Finan’s double. But when Finan tried to stretch that hit into a triple –- with nobody out -– he was gunned down a perfect relay from Ewanowski to shortstop Joe Presti to Mike Perry.
“We’re 9-6 playing a tough schedule,” Carey said. “Our defense has been good all year. And Sean throwing great today was a huge boost for us.
“We want to try and get it done in these next few days (i.e. qualify for the playoffs). We’re good enough to beat anybody in (Massachusetts) and Rhode Island. But anyone on our schedule can beat us, too.”