One or two great pitchers can carry a high school baseball team to a state championship.
Red Bank Catholic High School may have four.
That’s why the Caseys’ 2019 expectations make perfect sense.
This Red Bank Catholic squad wants to win the program’s first NJSIAA South Jersey, Non-Public A championship since 1997.
All four aces, Vincent Bianchi, Ryan O’Hara, John Nimeth and Shane Panzini, can help the Caseys break that drought.
“This group could be special,” said RBC coach Buddy Hausmann.
Red Bank Catholic will open its season with a road game at Holmdel High School on April 2.
Hausmann is not sure who will start that day. The coach has options. Now it’s time to meet them…
Bianchi is Hausmann’s senior ace, and a late bloomer.
The right-hander throws a 94 mile per hour fastball, a nasty curveball and a hard slider. But he didn’t fully develop those pitches until last summer.
So even though scouts from the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and other Major League Baseball teams are following Bianchi, the senior still doesn’t see himself as a future big leaguer.
The student with a 4.20 grade point average actually sees himself as a doctor.
“I guess that’s his fallback now,” Hausmann said, laughing.
O’Hara, like Bianchi, is a fully formed senior.
The former catcher has a short arm motion typical for a backstop. The quick delivery throws off the timing of hitters and makes the ball come in “heavy,” Hausmann said.
O’Hara also mixes an 89 mile per hour fastball with a deceptive changeup and a hard breaking ball. The delivery and repertoire keep hitters off balance through multiple at-bats.
“He will get in big games and shut the door,” Hausmann said.
Though less heralded than his teammates, Nimeth is actually Red Bank Catholic’s primary pitcher. He threw more innings than Bianchi and O’Hara in 2018.
The junior is the type of hurler that an MLB team would love to acquire at the trade deadline, because he will pitch anytime, anywhere and against any opponent.
It is fitting that Nimeth has a reliever’s mentality because, like the reliever archetype (think Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn in the 1989 movie “Major League”), he is “effectively wild,” Hausmann said.
Nimeth will occasionally lose control of a pitch and brush a hitter back. But he usually regains his control just as quickly. And once he does, the hitter is worried about taking a hardball to the body.
“He’s not a guy you want to dig in against,” Hausmann said.
Panzini, a sophomore, is the precocious younger brother on this loaded staff.
Multiple scouting services have him ranked as the No. 1 sophomore in New Jersey. Perfect Game USA even lists him as the 62nd best sophomore prospect in the country.
Last spring as a freshman, Panzini lived up to the hype. On May 8 against Middletown High School North, Panzini out dueled the Lions’ senior ace, Tyler Ras, in a 1-0 RBC victory.
Ras was not just some high school stud. He is now a starter at the University of Alabama.
“I just attack each hitter at a time,” Panzini said.
“Shane should pitch a lot of big games this year,” Hausmann added.
“I expect us to win a lot,” Bianchi said of the team. “We have a deep staff.”