SOME STROLLS through parks are more productive than others.
Life-changing, in fact.
As an eighth-grader, even before he decided to nix Roman Catholic High in favor of Prep Charter, Mike Borelli was headed for a youth-team practice in South Philly's FDR Park, a k a "The Lakes," when he noticed a baseball game taking place.
The players weren't little dudes. Were not of high school age, either. So, Borelli walked over and began firing away some cub-reporter questions.
Guess what? His next stop will be the very same school that team represented, the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
"I never heard of it before that," Borelli said.
Once he arrives on campus, if Borelli lets out a really big yell, the folks on his South Philly block might be able to hear him.
"Yup, it's just a short ride up the Expressway," he said.
Borelli, a 5-9, 170-pound senior, has been quite the productive, two-way force during his 4-year varsity stint at PC.
Like every high school team's ace, he makes his mound start in the Huskies' first game of the week. So Wednesday, he could be found at third base as PC muffled host Alvin Swenson, 10-2, in a Public B game at Conwell & Roosevelt Boulevard.
Borelli experienced only one official at-bat, and that produced a single. He also launched a sacrifice fly and reached base twice on HBPs, scoring a pair of runs.
Monday, the righthander had achieved a career milestone - 200 strikeouts - in an extra-inning win over Northeast.
"As it turned out, I needed six for 200 and now I have 204," Borelli said. "I didn't know anything about it going into the game and when it happened, we were down 2-0. Really playing bad. So, the best part about the day was that we came back to win."
Thanks to Wednesday's single, Borelli now needs 20 hits for 100. While he'd also love to achieve that milestone, the pitching feat means mounds more.
"When I'm pitching, I'm much more focused," he said. "I feel that every pitch is important, and that one little mistake can make you lose the game."
In this one, the vast majority of PC's pitches were strikes. Junior righthander Pete Piccoli recorded 10 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings and throw-alike classmate Frank Suppa whiffed all five guys he faced.
"I can get a little bored at third base," Borelli said. "Today I was talking to Swenson's coach [Shawn Williams]. I know him because our teams play each other in American Legion. He says some funny stuff."
Borelli spent his grade-school years at St. Nicholas, then opted for PC after being "blown away" on an official visit. He said he was thrust into baseball at age 3 - T-ball version, of course - by his father, Mike, a first-team All-Public outfielder for Southern in 1985.
"I was born into this," he noted. "I've always loved it. My grandfather is really into baseball and he taught me everything there is to know about pitching. I also got a lot of great tips from Bob Santore and Rob Carfagno [stars at Central and Neumann, respectively].
"My sister, Shara, was an All-Catholic softball player at Hallahan High. Once her career was done, my dad started putting all his attention into me."
Justin Bocelli led the Huskies' offense by going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Freshman Joe Suppa, Frank's brother, almost certainly hit a homer down the leftfield line in the seventh, but wound up having to settle for a triple. The leftfield "wall" is comprised of traffic cones (milk crates piled high are the "foul pole") and neither ump was able to say for sure that the ball had cleared the cones. Rob Eckert, Swenson's leftfielder, later said it had done so.
For the Lions, freshman shortstop Brian Nieves ripped a pair of doubles and Eckert looped an RBI single.
Borelli, who plans to become a lab technician, will be joined at USP by Central outfielder Mike Cavallaro and Ss. Neumann-Goretti catcher Nicky Nardini. Also, it's expected that first baseman Mark Gervasi, who starred last year for Central and then attended Temple, will be part of the squad. Borelli (of South Colorado, near Oregon), Cavallaro and Gervasi live within a block of each other.
And home is where Borelli will stay while attending college.
"The reason? Money!" he cracked. "It'd be like an extra $10,000 to live in the dorms. I don't want to be that much in debt after coming out of there."