By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
ABSECON — Ryan Spina and Trevor Cohen have worn the Navy and gold of Holy Spirit High for four years now, and they take a lot of pride in putting on that uniform every Game Day. They’re trying to show just how much they value that jersey every time they step onto the field in their final season of baseball.
That duo is leading what is a very young Spartans roster, and they are doing it just the way any coach wants his veteran leaders to do it — by showing passion, hustling all over the field, encouraging first-time varsity players and leaving the field with a filthy uniform.
That’s the standard of success that this state championship-caliber program has come to expect, and those two guys are living up to it, and then some.
On Friday afternoon, Spina went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and four RBIs, while Cohen added two hits — including a triple — to go along with three runs scored and and RBI to lead Holy Spirit to a 10-0 win over visiting Lower Cape May. The win helped Spirit bounce back from a tough 4-2 loss to Cedar Creek on Tuesday, and showed what the Spartans’ offense is capable of when its seniors are producing.
Spirit got out to an early 1-0 lead, then tacked on two more in the bottom of the third when Cohen laced a single to left, stole second and scored on an infield error on a hot shot off the bat of Spina. Spina then swiped second base and scored ahead of Tyler Gross’ RBI single to center to make it 3-0. Then, in the fourth, Spina broke the game open with a two-run double to left to push the lead to 5-0.
“I want to make an impact on the younger guys and get them ready for varsity baseball,” said Cohen, a four-year starter in center field and a Rutgers University commit. “I’m just having fun this year, I have my brother, Gavin (a freshman), on the team, so I’m just going to enjoy it. I’ve been training all winter, working my tail off, and it’s starting to pay off. I’m happy about that. My swing feels great. I’m trying to keep it simple, not swing too hard. I’m just trying to let the bat come through to the ball, not overthinking it.”
“We bring a lot of energy, especially in our home games. We have a lot of young guys and we’re trying to teach them energy, and that kind of flows into the game,” Spina added. “I feed off that, too. I’m seeing the ball well. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, I don’t really care where it goes.”
After Spina’s big double in the fourth, Holy Spirit (3-2, 1-1 Cape-Atlantic League National) continued to tack on as sophomore catcher Torrence Cooper plated Spina, and later in the inning pinch runner Nick Rymas came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 7-0. Holy Spirit ended the game via the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth, and — no surprise — Cohen and Spina were right in the mix of the three-run rally. Kyle Lamanteer ripped a double to right-center to lead off the inning — his first career varsity at-bat — and Gavin Cohen followed with an RBI single to make it 8-0.
Brother Trevor drove in Gavin with a ringing triple to the gap in right-center, and Spina ended the game with a long sacrifice fly to center to plate Trevor Cohen.
“We just have to be ready — coming to the game, getting on the field and being ready. That’s all we’re really worried about,” Trevor Cohen said. “We can’t go too much into it because these guys are so young. We have three starters who are playing their first seasons of varsity baseball, so we can’t put too much pressure on them. We just have to let them play.”
“Our senior class, we’ve won a state championship so we’re trying to bring that type of energy so that when we leave, these young guys can carry on that tradition and they have success,” Spina said. “Last year, that’s what we fed off of, and this year we’ll do the same thing. Our young guys have talent. This group, in a few years, is going to be scary. Even the kids on JV are good, so we can’t wait. I think this season is going to be really fun. I try not to think about it being my last year too much because that gets me sad, actually. But if we come out here and have fun like (we did today) we’re going to have success, no matter who we face. I think we’re going to do well this season.”
Connor Lamanteer was the winning pitcher for Spirit as he allowed just two hits while striking out seven in five innings.
What’s next: Holy Spirit hosts Delsea Regional on Saturday at 1 p.m. Lower Cape May travels to Timber Creek on Monday at 4 p.m.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays