Mulvaney’s guile, 7-run third steer St. Joe’s Met. past Notre Dame

By Bob Behre | June 1, 2023

These four Falcons, from left, Jimmy Mulvaney, Robbie Carvelli, Mark Gialluisi and, seated, Austin Nace, were also longtime teammates with the Diamond Jacks out of Diamond Nation.

Jimmy Mulvaney and Mark Gialluisi have been doing the pitcher-catcher thing since they first got on the big field as Diamond Jacks at Diamond Nation five years ago.

“We know each other so well we don’t even have to discuss a game plan anymore,” said Mulvaney, who improved to 8-3 after pitching 4.2 mostly clean innings as St. Joseph (Met.) rolled to an 11-3 victory over Notre Dame in the NJSIAA Non-Public A South semifinals. “We have so much chemistry it’s almost like we don’t even need signs in the game.”

Second-seeded St. Joseph (21-9), ranked No. 12 by, advances to the sectional final on Saturday at top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Red Bank Catholic (23-5), which cruised to an 8-1 victory over St. Augustine in the other semifinal in the bracket. That game is set for 11 a.m. The winner heads to the Non-Public A state championship game on June 8 at Veterans Park in Hamilton.

Mulvaney had more support than he’d need, particularly after his teammates erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the third inning to stake the righty bound for Fairfield to an 8-0 lead. The Falcons sent 12 batters to the plate in the third, getting contributions up and down their lineup, a recurring theme of late for coach Mike Murray’s charges. St. Joseph has won 14 of its last 16 games.

The lone base runner Mulvaney permitted through the first four innings was Notre Dame catcher Brendan Buecker, who singled to center field with one out in the first inning. Mulvaney registered all seven of his strikeouts in the first three innings, including the side in order in the third.

“Jimmy has been spectacular his last three starts,” said Gialluisi. “He’s in a different zone right now. He’s more focused than ever. He’s even taking his diet and his sleep into account,”

That focus brought a lot of strikes Notre Dame’s way but in a difficult to discern mix of slider, two-seam fastball and changeup. Mulvaney is deceptive enough with a windup that passes through Laredo, Texas, as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Kaat would say, and brings with it an assortment of speeds that can be cruel to a hitter.

“I felt really good today, going on short rest,” said Mulvaney. “The ump was giving me an inch on the corners and I took advantage of it.”

Mulvaney has been the workhorse of the Falcons staff, pitching 57.2 innings while boasting a 1.70 ERA. He has 63 strikeouts and just nine walks.

“It’s nice going in knowing the moment won’t be too big for Jimmy,” said St. Joseph coach Mike Murray. “And he’s pitching to a great catcher and in front of a great defense.” Mulvaney’s prize performance of the year is a 2-0, five-hit shutout over North Brunswick in the GMC Tournament championship game on May 21. And he’s continued to churn.

But the St. Joseph bats have been as comforting to Murray as his ace’s arm.

While Gialluisi and Carvelli have done untold damage this season from their No. 1 and 2 spots in the lineup, the Falcons received five hits, five runs and three RBI from the last four spots in its batting order on Wednesday.

“We were pressing as a lineup early in the season, but we are getting contributions 1-through-9 now,” said Murray. “Our three lefty bats at 7-through-9 did a nice job today.”

Nate Jones (2-for-4) of Notre Dame eyes up a pitch from St. Joseph’s Jimmy Mulvaney on Wednesday.

It was No. 9 hitter Will Ramsay’s leadoff opposite field double that triggered the big rally in the third. Manhattan-bound Josiah Brown delivered the first run with an infield hit, Matt Kosuda drew a walk to force a run home, No. 6 hitter Joseph Zammitti ripped a shot through the left side to deliver two runs, No. 8 hitter Christian Azcona chipped in with a sac fly and Gialluisi hit a hard shot through second base to get the final two runs of the inning home. Bobby Christensen (2-for-4, 2 runs), the No. 7 hitter, singled in the middle of the rally, as well.

Gialluisi scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first when he reached on an error, moved to second on Carvelli’s well-placed single to shallow right field, took third on a fielder’s choice grounder and scored as Tyler DelVecchio bounced out to third base.

The 8-0 lead gave Murray an opportunity to preserve some pitches and enable Mulvaney a shot at coming back on Saturday for at least some potentially important innings. Mulvaney had thrown a modest 57 pitches through four scoreless innings, so Murray was closely monitoring him to be sure he stayed at or below the 70-pitch threshold. (At 71 pitches, three days rest would be required). Mulvaney got two outs in the fifth but allowed two hits as his pitch count ticked up to 68.

Notre Dame, which had picked off favored Donovan Catholic in the quarterfinal and climbed to No. 19 in the latest statewide poll, quickly threw a monkey wrench into Murray’s plans when it greeted reliever Matt Friedman with three straight singles that produced three runs and shaved the deficit to 8-3.

David Olenchalk and Nate Jones (2-for-3) had started the rally with singles off Mulvaney before T.J. Magliozzi, the No. 9 hitter, delivered the Irish’s first run on a single to left field. Lance Eilbacher and Buecker followed with RBI singles to center.

Murray went to his third pitcher, Bryan Rios, at that point, who induced a high pop up to shallow right that Ramsay made a nice play on charging in hard for the third out.

St. Joseph would get those three runs back in the bottom of the fifth when Carvelli (2-for-4, run, 2 RBI) followed singles by Christensen and Azcona with a hard two-out sinking lined single to center. The single scored both runners and the speedy Carvelli raced all the way around the bases when the ball skipped past the charging center fielder.

“He threw me a curveball in the dirt on the prior pitch,” said Carvelli, “and then threw me another one but left it over the plate and I lined it up the middle. Originally I thought he was going to catch it, but when it squeaked by him, I said, ‘here I go’”

Rios would close it out from there with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief in which he permitted two hits, struck out three and walked none.

“We started slow this season but everyone is hitting now and it’s all coming together at the right time,” said Mulvaney.

This is the view batters get of submariner Jimmy Mulvaney of St. Joseph (Met.).

NOTES: The Virginia-bound Giallusi has a stunning 54 hits on the season and is batting an even .500 despite going 0-for-4 against Notre Dame. He has 16 doubles and 19 RBI from the leadoff spot to go with 25 stolen bases. Because of the loss of the COVID year, he’s played just three seasons but has 126 career hits, 105 of them coming in the past two seasons. He is surely about to become a two-time All-Stater.

…Carvelli has 37 hits and boasts a .363 average and has driven in 30 runs. Fellow Diamond Jacks, twins Lance and Logan Eilbacher of Notre Dame, each had a single. The senior brothers are committed to Catholic University. Lance bats leadoff and is hitting .392 with 31 hits, 22 runs and 12 RBI. Logan is the Irish’s cleanup hitter and is crushing it at .493 with 33 hits and 26 RBI.

Kosuda (.310, 21 RBI), a junior outfielder committed to William & Mary, and Azcona (19 hits, 9 RBI), a senior bound for Eastern Kentucky, were the other two Diamond Jacks in St. Joseph’s batting order.

…Carvelli and Mulvaney both mentioned how neat they thought it was to be playing such a big game on a field where they grew up playing. “It was awesome playing at Diamond Nation with my high school team and that it was such a big game made it even better,” said Carvelli.

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