Rob Mannel got just the fastball he was looking for. Matt Kilby found an attractive hanging breaking ball.
Neither Titan is one to make light of such chances and neither did on Tuesday night. Mannel and Kilby each smashed a two-run home run over the left field fence for T.C. Williams (7-5), cementing pitcher Chris Cattaneo’s complete-game four-hitter for a 9-1 victory against Patriot District rival West Potomac (3-8).
That one-two punch the core of the T.C. lineup, with Kilby batting third and Mannel fourth did not lack power or percentage, going a combined 5-for-6 and driving in five runs on their home turf at Simpson Field.
“I know what we’re going to get out of the middle of our order,” said T.C. head coach Andrew Simpson. “Rob and Matt aren’t going to surprise anybody.”
That included the Wolverines’ leaders in the opposing dugout.
“We knew they were good, even after the first few times they were up, we knew it was still a battle,” said West Potomac head coach Steve Lord.
And it didn’t take long for the heart of the T.C. order to find a pulse.
After Wolverine starter Josh Belanger struck out the first two batters he faced, Kilby grounded the first pitch he saw down the third-base line and beat out the throw to first. It took just two pitches for Mannel to find what he wanted over the plate, belting a towering home run over the left field fence for what turned out to be the game-winning hit.
“I was looking for a fastball, definitely,” Mannel said, “because he threw a curveball low on the first pitch so I knew he was going to change speeds on me.”
Two innings later it was Kilby’s turn for T.C. with two outs. He lined a curve ball over the wall in left-center field and scored Alex Severini.
Cattaneo, meanwhile, was perfect through three-and-a-third innings. The senior starter and makeshift ace through the first half of the season with a 5-1 record controlled the plate and threw for strikes, notching five strikeouts before allowing a West Potomac runner to reach base.
“I know how Chris pitches. The way he was looking tonight, after the first four innings we were up 4-0, and I thought it was probably enough,” Simpson said. “He was on his game.”
Cattaneo relied on an accurate fastball-changeup combo, but being able to pitch with a lead for the final six innings didn’t hurt either.
“It lets me know that I don’t have to strikeout every single guy,” Cattaneo said. “I can afford to make some mistakes.If I allow one run it’s not going to mean anything.”
Throwing less than 80 pitches, he finished with six strikeouts, allowing just one run on four hits. It was another solid outing for the senior, who has held down the role of No. 1 starting pitcher for the Titans since they lost junior ace Steve Weidman indefinitely to an ankle injury at the start of the season, Simpson said.
“I told Chris at the beginning of the season, ‘You’ve got a big opportunity to take this pitching staff,'” Simpson said. “Without him I don’t know where we’d be.”
Belanger took the loss for the Wolverines, going five innings and allowing six runs on eight hits.
Kilby finished 3-for-3 with three RBI. Mannel also added a double and five other Titans recorded hits on the night. T.C. heads to Lake Braddock for another Patriot District contest on Friday.