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Mattei guides Devils over Churchmen

The pitcher went the distance, allowing only four hits and an earned run in the Inter-Ac win.

Mike Mattei shows his characteristic intensity. He has stepped up since Anthony Cafagna suffered a broken hand.
Mike Mattei shows his characteristic intensity. He has stepped up since Anthony Cafagna suffered a broken hand.Read more

Mike Mattei's hand is to football as his cap is to baseball.

It's probably not fair to compare the two, but each bears the mark of one of the sports.

Take a look at the Chestnut Hill Academy junior's right wrist and you'll see the healthy scar he earned from a broken hand he suffered in the fall playing quarterback for the Blue Devils.

Glance at the 6-foot-2 righthander's lid and you could swear that John Kruk had been there.

"It makes it look like I did something," Mattei said.

Yesterday he did plenty, guiding CHA to another relatively easy Inter-Ac League win, this time over basement-dwelling Episcopal Academy, 13-4. But ever since staff ace Anthony Cafagna was sidelined with - you guessed it - a broken hand, Mattei has quarterbacked the Blue Devils.

It's almost as if he's making up for lost time.

"When I broke my hand, it was like the fourth game of the year," Mattei said. "So I didn't get to play in any Inter-Ac games yet, and that's what I was looking forward to."

CHA had returned to playing Inter-Ac football for the first time in 34 years. It may not be as long, but the Blue Devils haven't captured a baseball crown since 1989.

"This year, we definitely have a chance to win the championship," Mattei said. "But when [Cafagna] went down, it was right in the heart of the season."

On April 25, the Richmond-bound Cafagna broke a bone in his left (non-throwing) hand when he dove back into first base. He has missed three league games, but CHA went 2-1 in that span, with Mattei picking up both wins.

Cafagna is set to have his cast removed tomorrow. He said before yesterday's game that he wanted to pitch Friday against the Haverford School, but if that didn't work out, he would go for Tuesday in the season finale against Penn Charter.

That game could prove to be the title clincher. The Blue Devils are 7-1 in the Inter-Ac (19-3 overall), with Germantown Academy (6-2) and Malvern Prep (5-2) on their heels.

However, if Cafagna starts Friday, Mattei is ready to take the hill against the Quakers. He has shouldered the No. 1 role, despite some early hesitation.

"It was a shock at first to realize that I was going to be the guy," Mattei said. "But I was definitely ready for a challenge."

Against the Churchmen, Mattei went the distance, allowing only four hits and an earned run. The three other runs were the result of throwing errors on Episcopal's mostly grass infield. In the past, the Blue Devils might have let the gaffes affect them.

The Blue Devils had scored a run in each of the first two innings by the time freshman Jonathan McAllister smoked a leadoff home run in the third. The barrage continued as CHA sent 12 to the plate in the inning, adding six runs for a 9-0 lead.

EA (6-10, 1-7) chipped away to make it 9-4 after six, but catcher Anthony Cardona, who broke his foot during football season, sparked a four-run seventh with a leadoff double.

Mattei, meanwhile, will focus on football when baseball is over. It's his sport of choice and one he hopes to play in college.

He says his wrist is 100 percent. His cap?

It needs a wash.

"No, never," Mattei said.

Chestnut Hill 117 000 4 - 13 14 5

Episcopal 000 301 0 - 4 4 4

WP: Mike Mattei. LP: Elliott Faust. 2B: CH-Steel Russell, Anthony Cardona. EA-Mike McNulty. HR: CH-Jonathan McAllister.