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Toto shows staying power for Catholic League in Carpenter Cup

As someone who's already drawing interest from Penn, Ray Toto no doubt fares well in the classroom.

As someone who's already drawing interest from Penn, Ray Toto no doubt fares well in the classroom.

But if he'd like to score 100 on all tests next school year, perhaps he should talk the folks at St. Joseph's Prep into letting him take them at 4 o'clock, or even 5.

If yesterday's first-round game in the 25th annual Carpenter Cup Classic, sponsored by the Phillies and played at Richie Ashburn Field in deep South Philly, can be used as a barometer, Toto does some of his best work after his day is supposedly done.

Here's how things work in the Triple C: Teams almost always use two players apiece - at least three innings, no more than six - at the eight regular positions and the DH spot. Three can be used, but permission must be obtained before gametime from tourney honchos.

The Catholic League, having gotten the OK, planned to use Toto for three frames at catcher, then follow with La Salle's TJ Burgmann and Bishop McDevitt's Matt Conroy.


"I forgot about that," said Monsignor Bonner coach Joe DeBarberie, an assistant to head man Jim DiGuiseppe Sr., of Archbishop Wood, and, well, let's call him the chief of substitution. "It's not easy gettin' older."

Bang! In the fourth inning, the 6-foot, 200-pound Toto ripped a two-run homer over the fence in dead leftfield. Zip! Zip again! In the fifth, he gunned down a would-be basestealer at second base and picked another guy off first.

So it doesn't get lost in the shuffle, let it be noted that Toto sliced an RBI double to right in the second inning. (And struck out in the fifth, making him 2-for-3 with three RBI.)

The CL basically frolicked over the Public League, 11-2, earning a spot in a quarterfinal Monday at 9 a.m. against Surbaban One/American-Continental.

The Pub is now 1-25 lifetime with a 233-72 scoring disadvantage. Its lone win occurred in 1990, and 15 times in the last 17 years it has surrendered at least eight runs.

After the third inning, having not been tapped on the shoulder, Toto said he walked over to DiGuiseppe and asked, "Am I done, coach?"

The coach responded, "Know what? Stay in there a few more innings."

The man has the touch. See him today for winning lottery numbers.

Toto's homer, against Central righthander Pete Rowe, following a double by Ss. Neumann-Goretti's Mike Riverso, came on a pitch at knee level, if not lower, and resembled a tee shot.

"I thought I'd take a hack at it," Toto said. "I take my occasional swings at them, but I can't say I'm a low-ball hitter.

"It was on too much of a line for me to know it was definitely out. I took a peek at the beginning, then started running hard in case I could get three bases if it stayed in the yard. The outfielder was facing the fence. I thought he was going to reach out and get it. Then I saw the third-base ump giving the signal."

This wasn't Toto's first big hit at Ashburn; it's the Prep's home field.

"I was excited when I found out they were playing the games here [after switching from Penn's Meiklejohn Stadium]," Toto said. "Whenever you can play games at a place you're familiar with, it helps. I'm comfortable here at bat and behind the plate."

True dat. There were no wild pitches or passed balls with Toto on duty (Burgmann completed the receiving wizardry) and and his two assists in the fifth were impressive.

"As a catcher," Toto said, "you have to focus a lot on being solid defensively.

"I guess I liked the pickoff the best. I usually just hang out back there. But if a guy's taking too big a lead, I'll throw it behind him. [N-G's] Mark Donato did a good job at first. He didn't know it was coming. The guy was safe, probably. But Mark sold it well."

N-G's Albert Baur, whose dad, Al, starred as a pitcher for Southern in the very first Carpenter Cup, posted an RBI double. Colin Pyne (La Salle) stroked a two-run single while Alex Liberatore (Bonner, sac fly), Kyle McCrossen (Wood, groundout) and Burgmann (single) bagged one RBI apiece.

Lefty Joe Nestor (Bonner, two innings) and righties Tim Racek (Roman Catholic, three) and Larry Brittingham (Wood, one) combined to blank the Pub through six innings. Kevin Pfeifer (Central) and Tyler Esbensen (W.B. Saul) smashed RBI doubles in the seventh and eighth, respectively.

The game's best defensive play belonged to starting CL centerfielder Rick Reigner (Bonner), who ran far into left-center and made a diving catch of a second-inning shot by Israel Diaz (Frankford). Two guys were on and the game was still scoreless.

Toto, who lives in Drexel Hill, is receiving preliminary interest from Rutgers and Saint Joseph's in addition to Penn. And Steve Koplove, his coach with the Philadelphia Senators, is reaching out to other schools.

Note to those who go watch him play: Don't leave early.