By Phil Anastasia
Danny Hartson was at his best when it mattered most.
The junior right-hander pitched out of trouble in the top of the first inning, setting the tone for his team's 10-0 victory over rival Paul VI Tuesday in an Olympic Conference National Division baseball game.
Hartson worked a complete game, allowing six hits with four walks. He struck out seven -- four with runners in scoring position.
Seniors Dom Messina and Albert Faiola delivered two-run hits and sophomore designated hitter Jake Mackara rapped a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the sixth inning for Camden Catholic (9-5, 5-2).
Senior catcher Devin Ruiz was 3-for-3 for Paul VI (6-7, 5-2), which left 10 runners on base.
"We're not cashing in when we have runners in scoring position," Paul VI coach Pat Fisher said.
Fisher said his team has been "lackluster" since the Eagles had a 6-3 lead and was three outs away from clinching a berth to the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic on Saturday but fell to top-ranked Bishop Eustace 10-6 in nine innings.
The announcement of Diamond Classic field on Sunday night also had an impact on Camden Catholic. The Irish, who made the tournament final last year, felt snubbed because they didn't receive an at-large berth.
"We talked about what we could do and we still have the division and the state tournament ahead of us," Camden Catholic coach Bob Bergholtz said.
The Irish rapped 12 hits, including five for extra-bases, on a warm sunny afternoon on their home field.
But the key to the victory was Hartson's work on the mound. He took the air out of Paul VI's dugout and jacked up his teammates in the first inning, striking out two batters after the bases were loaded with one out.
"That was a big confidence booster for the whole team," Hartson said. "I was able to make pitches when I needed to. I was able to dig down and find the pitch I needed to get out of the inning."
Hartson threw a fastball, cutter and splitter. He escaped bases-loaded jams in the first and third. He also got out of first-and-second-one-out trouble in the fifth.
"I told him there's no sign I can give him or drill or station I can set up for him to work out of those situations," Bergholtz said. "He has the will to fight out of it, the intestinal fortitude.
"That's one of the things that separates Danny from a lot of other pitchers at this level. He's not the biggest guy and he's not going to light up the radar gun.
"But in those situations, he's going to dig down deep and find a way to pitch himself out of trouble."
Paul VI 000 000 -- 0 6 1
Camden Catholic 030 106 -- 10 12 0
WP: Danny Hartson. LP: Matt McKeown.
2B: P-Devin Ruiz, Phil Matalucci; CC-Tom Gallagher, Christian Bilan, Dom Messina, Nolan Gerold.
HR: CC-Jake Mackara.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org