His is the one position on a baseball team that can see the entire field.
Even though the job calls for such duties as being an extra manager on the field and an in-game counselor and psychologist, Riverdale Ridge catcher Corey Lopez is all for it.
“It makes me focus on the game more,” said Lopez, who is a senior. “Not taking away from other positions, but you have to be more mentally sharp. You’re focused on what’s going on. It puts a little pressure on, in big-time situations. You just have to be prepared.”
Lopez can play first base and third base, too. But the coaching staff pressed him into service behind the plate May 5 against Severance with little advance warning because of advanced-placement testing.
“Our other catcher, Keagon Pitton, is a good catcher under pressure,” Lopez said. “He’s a very good catcher. We compete. We love each other. We find and grind together. It’s a good dynamic.”
Normally, Pitton catches junior hurler Ty Thompson, and Lopez’s duties team him up with Ethan McCormick.
“You know how to talk to them. You know how to present a pitch to them,” Lopez said. “You represent yourself to where the pitcher can throw the pitch to you and have a good presentation for it.”
Every so often, Lopez has to take a message to the mound.
“Calm down, take a breath,” Lopez laughed. “Relax and do your thing. If someone gets a hit off Ty and he’s angry, we have to settle him down and take some steam off his head. Usually, it’s a good response. The next pitch, especially Ty, he goes right back at them.”
As for the game, the Silver Knights erupted for five runs in the fifth inning and beat the Ravens 9-2. The win salvaged a split of the home-and-home series. RRHS won the game in Severance 12-2.
Tyler Hansen’s three-run home run was the big blow in the inning. Winning pitcher Nolan Hertzke added a two-run triple. Marcus Espinosa singled home a run in the second inning. The other run scored on an infield error. Thompson finished with two hits.
RRHS put together seven hits ion the first five innings. But the Ravens also stranded 10 runners.
“We didn’t take advantage of some mistakes,” said RRHS assistant coach Anthony Mastroni. “We misplayed a couple of balls. They took advantage of our mistakes. We missed a pop fly down the first-base line, and the next pitch, they hit a home run. We just didn’t capitalize.”
Mastroni said the next order of business will be to step into the batting cage to face pitches of different speeds.
“They didn’t quit,” he said. “There was noise in the dugout. We need to spend some time in the cage. From here on out, all we’re going to see is a lot of high-velocity stuff.”
As for Lopez, he’ll await his next chance to put on the tools and settle in behind the plate.
“Catchers are a very important aspect of baseball,” Lopez said. “They are the captain on the field. They control the pitcher, every other player. You’re in every play, physically and mentally. You never get a break, but it’s never boring. It’s fun. There’s all this action.”
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