The varsity baseball team travelled via bus to South Carolina on Easter Sunday to participate in the Hanahan Invitational Tournament, which they had won in 2016 during their last visit to Charleston.
After an arduous fourteen-hour bus ride, St. Rita opened the tournament on Monday evening against the 12th-ranked team in South Carolina, Beaufort (13-1), at West Ashley High School.
Junior Matt Callahan (2-2), the Mustangs #2 starter, took the hill and gave his team a chance allowing only 2 earned runs in a complete-game performance, but the Mustang bats were silent on the evening as they were only able to push across one run as they fell to Beaufort 4-1.
On Tuesday evening the Mustangs returned to action again at West Ashley High School as they battled Academic Magnet (SC).
After sweeping Northwood Academy in a Tuesday morning JV doubleheader, the Mustang varsity team came out swinging on Tuesday night as they pushed across four runs in the top of the 1st inning on the backs of RBI singles from a trio of seniors: Frank Napleton, Jake Zylman, and Noah Miller.
Junior ace Diego Koval (2-1) got the start and pitched well, leaving the game with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th leading 4-3, but a walk and a wild pitch later, and St. Rita lost their 2nd straight game in the tournament in heart-breaking fashion.
On Wednesday, with senior Mike Botthoff (1-0) toeing the rubber, the St. Rita bats finally broke out in a very big way as they again jumped out quickly scoring 6 times in the top of the 1st on the strength of RBIs from Frank and Luke Napleton as well as Noah Miller. This time, though, the Mustang bats would remain hot throughout the game as they pounded out 19 hits on the night which led to a convincing 20-10 win over Whitewater, Georgia, one of the best teams in the tournament.
The Napleton brothers stole the show on the evening combining for 7 hits in 9 at-bats while driving in 8 runs on the night. Sophomore catcher Luke Napleton was the shining star as he broke out of a prolonged slump by going (4-4) with his team-leading 2nd homerun on the season.
On Thursday morning the Mustangs battled James River (VA) at James Island High School in Charleston. With scheduled starting pitcher junior Vic Aguilar falling ill on the bus ride to the game, junior Danny Brannigan was pressed into his first career varsity start on the mound, and he did not disappoint. Brannigan held James River to 2 earned runs on only 2 hits in 6 strong innings of work before giving way to junior Marc Zavala, who was called upon to get the elusive final 3 outs of the game.
Zavala, in his 1st career varsity outing, looked like a veteran retiring James River in order on seven pitches to notch his first career save.
The Mustangs took a page out of retired head coach Mike Zunica's playbook as they perfectly executed "Zuni-ball" with three straight bunts in the 2nd inning leading to the three runs that would hold up, allowing St. Rita to come home (9-4) ready to begin their rugged Chicago Catholic League Blue schedule.