In Cherry Hill West baseball circles, they still talk about The Catch.
Now they can add The Swing to the conversation.
“Maybe it’s The Catch Part Two or the Shot Heard Around The World,” Cherry Hill West coach Dan McMaster said of Scott Shaw’s home run in the South Jersey Group 3 final May 31 against Triton.
Shaw, an outfielder and Rider University recruit, earned South Jersey baseball Player of the Year honors for more than just one hit, no matter how dramatic or significant.
Shaw batted .470 in leading the Lions to a 25-4-1 record. A lanky left-handed swinger, Shaw generated 32 RBIs with five homers and eight doubles. He walked 31 times and stole 11 bases.
“He was the engine that made us go,” McMaster said of Shaw, the team’s center fielder and No. 2 batter in the lineup.
Shaw also produced perhaps the most exciting moment in Cherry Hill West baseball history in 27 years.
With the Lions trailing host Triton, 3-2, with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh inning of the sectional final, Shaw drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence in right-center field for a two-run homer and a 4-3 lead.
Cherry Hill West added two insurance runs and won the program’s first sectional title since 1993 by a 6-3 score.
And here’s the thing: Shaw still isn’t sure why he swung at that pitch, a curveball.
“Normally I don’t swing at curveballs until two strikes,” Shaw said. “Hanger or not, I’ll just let it go and wait for a fastball.
“I wasn’t really thinking. I just swung.”
McMaster said Shaw probably had only a “handful of hits” all season off curveballs.
“He’s been hunting fastballs his whole career,” McMaster said. “But it’s a testament to him. He’s worked and worked on being a better curveball hitter and the biggest hit he ever gets is a curveball.
“I just assumed he hit a fastball. I didn’t even realize until after the game when he told us that he hit a curveball.”
Shaw said the sectional title secured by his home run was a fitting reward for four years of work by Cherry Hill West’s seniors. He remembers preparing for the start of his final season.
“March 1, we’re out there shoveling snow off the batting cages to get some swings in, and just like that it was over,” Shaw said. “It meant so much to us, especially the seniors, to go out the way we did. It was a great way to go out.”
Shaw started the season with a bang, going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs against Washington Township. He was 2-for-2 with two RBIs vs. Diamond Classic champion Shawnee. He was 2-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs against South Jersey Group 4 champion Eastern.
“He’s a quiet, lead-by-example type guy,” McMaster said. “But he worked his tail off for four years. He has a great work ethic and this year kind of validated all the hard work he put in.”
Shaw also is a top student. He plans to major in biology at Rider, with an eye toward a career in dentistry.
The golden days for Cherry Hill West baseball were the era from 1987-1992, when the Lions made six consecutive trips to the state finals, winning the last four in a row.
The 1992 team featured legendary pitcher Bo Gray -- whose son John was a standout senior first baseman for this year’s team -- as well outfielder Tom Bianco, who made the most memorable play of the entire era with a spectacular catch that likely saved two runs in a 1-0 win over rival Cherry Hill East in the South Jersey Group 4 final.
“He just went in the West Hall of Fame,” McMaster said of Bianco. “And it’s still all people talk all the time about, ’The Catch, The Catch.’”
Now The Swing is part of Lions lore.