By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Vinny Mason tossed five innings of one-hit ball, and the No. 8 seed Aquinas Li’l Irish easily defeated the N0. 9 seed Wayne Eagles, 21-3 in Class A2 opening round action on Rich Pilliter Field, Thursday afternoon.
Mason struck out eight and faced two over the minimum as the reigning class champions opened their defense.
“My fastball was working today,” the sophomore left-hander said. “I was just trying to hit my spots. I didn’t really have my off-speed today.”
After surrendering a two-out single in the first, Mason retired the next nine he faced without allowing a ball out of the infield.
“He threw strikes,” Aquinas head coach Mark Magliocco said matter of factly. “That’s what you got to do against teams like that. You got to throw strikes. If they get guys on base, they’re going to try to steal.”
The outing was the second straight impressive one for Mason.
“He pitched a four-inning no-hitter against Eastridge on Saturday,” Magliocco noted. “The second half of the year he’s really been pitching well for a sophomore.
“He’s throwing harder too as the year has gone on. He’s done well.”
Aquinas sent eight to the plate and scored all the runs it needed in the second inning. Derek Simms sparked a four-run frame with an RBI triple to dead center. The senior designated hitter connected on a 2-2 pitch and plated John Altpeter.
“He took a little bit off it, but it was a fastball inside,” Simms said. “I was just looking for a pitch to hit. He left one in, so I tried to drive it as far as I could to get the man home and get us on the board.”
John Mason and Tim Proud followed with back-to-back base raps. A wild pitch brought in a run, and Trey Brown capped the inning when the AQ second baseman reached on an error to score the fourth run of the inning.
“Our hitting hasn’t been our strong suit this year for whatever reason,” Magliocco said. “But once we get going, it’s contagious and everybody starts hitting. It’s taken us a while to get going.”
AQ’s second inning served as nothing more than an opening act for the third stanza.
Altpeter ignited the Li’l Irish offense with a two-run bomb to left field.
Proud followed two batters later and doubled in a run. Jack Scanlon added another with a single to center, and Mikey Hernandez kept the hit parade moving with a run-scoring single.
When it was over, the maroon and white had sent 12 to the dish, plated nine and led 13-0.
Altpeter finished 3-for-3 with a walk, four runs scored and two RBI. John Mason went 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Proud had two hits and crossed the plate three times.
The Li’l Irish which lost its first seven games of the season improved to 8-12. They will take on top-seeded School of the Arts, Friday in the quarter-finals.
“Last year the team rolled at sectionals,” Simms said. “We’re looking to do the same things this year.”