The speed of Conor Kerins' fastball was matched by the racing thoughts in his mind.

"I wanted to set a tone," he said. "I didn't want to be this MVP who then goes out in a quarterfinal and blows it all. I wanted my presence to be felt, and to have it inspire my teammates."

As easily done as said.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Kerins is a senior lefthander for Monsignor Bonner High. And yesterday, in a Catholic League quarterfinal at Neumann College, he pitched six innings of two-hit, 10-strikeout ball as the Friars bested Kennedy-Kenrick, 10-1.

Seven of those whiffs came in the first three frames.

"I wanted to put K-K in the dirt right away," he said.

Don't take that remark the wrong way. Kerins can't help it if he's quite the competitor, not to mention honest about his feelings.

"I wish I was getting recruited by some bigger schools," he said. "I'm not sure why I'm not. I mean, the Christian Walker kid [a junior third baseman already committed to South Carolina] gets a lot of attention, but what'd he hit, one ball solid? I'm not saying he's not good, but I was trying to stick it to him. Just to show something, you know?"

Kerins, 7-0 this season against CL opposition, got his pitching start at age 8. He acknowledges he was mostly a thrower in those early years, and that his improvement did not begin until he convinced himself to think the game, too.

"That started my sophomore year," he said. "My velocity was 85 today, they told me, but I can't just blow guys away. I have to think about everything I'm doing. To constantly pay attention. When you do that, you become a pitcher.

"Early, I was starting pretty much everybody with fastballs. They weren't catching up to them, so I started with that strategy. And with my curve, I was slowing down the delivery. Choking it a bit more. Pulling it down harder. It was something I just started doing. Trying to make that pitch better."

Bonner scored all of its runs in the first five innings. Bill Hollingsworth's RBI double made it 2-1 in the home third, then another run scored on a wild pitch. Along the way, other RBI went to Pat Warrington (double), Rob Benedict (single), Lou Tomasetti (two; both on singles) and Dan Williams (sac fly).

K-K scored on a throwing error during a rundown.

Kerins, who lives in Drexel Hill, has been offered a scholarship by West Chester. Long-range, he envisions becoming a sales rep or college athletic director. Very long-range.

"Like everybody, I want to play major league baseball," he said. "I love pitching. To get respect as a hitter, you have to go 3-for-3 and hit every ball hard. As a pitcher, you can get it just by keeping your team in the game.

"I love competing. If I throw a great curve and make a guy look bad, get him way out front . . . I just get a smile from it."

In another quarterfinal:

* Ryan 3, Conwell-Egan 2: Rain halted this one 2 days ago in the fifth, with the score tied at 2-2. Archbishop Ryan scored one in the visiting seventh as Jon Schmidt walked, went to second on a wild pitch and came around on an infield throwing error. Bob Steffney got the win with three no-hit, no-run relief innings. Nick Ferdinand and Jerry Smith had Ryan's RBI. Sean O'Hara (injured Wednesday) and Pat Sevick had C-E's. The Bonner-Ryan semifinal is today at 3:45 at Widener University. *