Get our newsletters

Wood battling for playoff seeding


The Archbishop Wood Vikings did everything right for six innings on Monday, scratching out two runs against tough Archbishop Ryan righty Jake Marchesano and playing good defense behind the three-hit shutout pitching from Richie Bayachek.

But Ryan’s bats came alive in the top of the seventh. The Raiders picked up three singles and were helped by an error, enough to score three times and hold on for a 3-2 victory.

“We’ve been struggling to score runs. It’s been the tale of our season,” said Wood coach Jim DiGuiseppe Jr. “And that’s why we’re going to be in a play-in game for the first time ever.”

In the Philadelphia Catholic League, 10 of the 13 teams make the playoffs. The top six teams earn byes.

Even before Monday’s game, Wood had a playoff berth clinched. The Vikings are 5-6 and were scheduled to play a very good Neumann-Goretti team on Wednesday in the regular season finale, which ended after the Herald went to print.

“The game Wednesday is huge for home-field advantage against Devon Prep,” said Bayachek, a junior.

While Ryan (6-6) won five of its last six regular season games and looks like it will be the seventh seed, Wood is battling Devon Prep and Cardinal O’Hara for seeding in the eighth, ninth and 10th spots. The playoffs start next Wednesday, and there’s a chance for a rematch with Ryan.

The Vikings remain confident.

“We have very good pitching and we don’t give up,” said sophomore center fielder Chase Cavallaro. “We can go very far if we play our game.”

“We’ve beaten some good teams,” said Bayachek, referring to Bonner-Prendergast and defending PIAA Class 6A champion Father Judge. “Pitching is definitely our strength, and our defense is usually pretty solid.”

Bayachek blanked the Raiders through six innings. He was in a little trouble in the fourth, as Ryan had runners on first and second with one out, but catcher Logan Madison gunned down a runner trying to steal third.

Wood scored in the fifth with a two-out rally. Zach Neeld walked, stole second and scored on a single by Cavallaro.

Cavallaro also doubled against Marchesano, a junior who will pitch at Delaware.

“He had some good stuff. I was trying to put the ball in play and get the barrel on the ball,” he said.

Marchesano exited after the fifth, and Wood scored in the sixth when Braden Kelly doubled and scored on a two-out single by Sebastian McNab. The 2-0 lead looked good with Bayachek on the mound.

“I felt great. Everything was working. My pitch count was up, but I felt good overall,” he said.

“Richie was doing a really good job. He was changing speeds really well,” DiGuiseppe said.

In the seventh, after Ryan’s first two batters reached on a hit and an error, Kelly came in to relieve Bayachek, who had thrown 90 pitches.

Earlier in the season, Kelly came in to save a game against Judge, but Ryan greeted him with a pair of singles that scored three.

Wood lost for the third time in a row, including to a Roman Catholic team that won’t be going to the playoffs.

Nonetheless, DiGuiseppe sees a lot of positives with his young team.

Neeld is doing a nice job in the leadoff spot, replacing Jimmy Casey, who broke his arm.

Cavallaro is playing center field in place of Casey.

“He’s done a really nice job for us,” DiGuiseppe said of Cavallaro. “He’s been one of our most productive players.”

The coach considers pitchers Kelly and Bayachek as “1 and 1A.”

“Our pitching has been carrying us, to be honest with you,” he said.

DiGuiseppe also pointed to Madison and sophomore right fielder and cleanup hitter Caden Vacca, who had one of his team’s five hits, as big contributors.

“Logan Madison has been an absolute beast for us behind the plate,” he said.

The young Vikings are looking forward to the playoffs and the future.

“We’re learning and we’re growing,” DiGuiseppe said.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.