BY 5:30 MONDAY afternoon, only one word should have been directed toward the lone freshman in Delaware Valley Charter High's baseball lineup.
Say hello, with gusto, to Rainiel "Ray" Bravo, a 5-10, 180-pound designated hitter, and congratulate him on the strong performance he mounted in a Public D contest, played in occasional drizzle, at Charles Papa Playground, Haverford and Lansdowne avenues.
As the visiting Warriors thumped Robert Lamberton, 17-2, in six innings, thus clinching first place at 9-0, all the 15-year-old Bravo did was go 5-for-5 with four singles, a two-run homer and four RBI.
He posted his hits in that order, too. A hard single to right to chase home a run and cap a three-run first. Infield hit to shortstop for one RBI in the third. Another smoker to right in a three-run fourth. A semi-bloop to center to start an eight-run sixth. And, later that same inning, a shot to right-center that rolled far enough to enable him to circle the bases and tack on two more RBI.
"My first home run of the year," said Bravo, who redefines soft-spoken. "My first time going 5-for-5, too. My best before today? Three-for-5.
"I was just looking for a double or triple. The home run surprised me. I felt it off the bat. Then I looked toward the outfield and kept running."
Bravo said he expected to make D-V's varsity, despite his youth, but wasn't sure how much light he'd see. He batted eighth for roughly the first half of the season, then moved into the five-hole because of some successful moments.
DHing is a part-time job.
"I started at third in our last game," Bravo said, "but I made a couple bad throws. So coach [Will Cambria] had to move me out of of there."
Said Cambria: "He did struggle last game, but there's another part of it, too. Today's third baseman, Melvin Green, is coming off an injury. He got hurt playing basketball right before the season."
Green, a senior and the brother of junior catcher Demetrius "Meech" Green, is a lefty. So is the guy, Charles Wright, who pitched the first five innings Monday. Where'd Wright go after that? To shortstop. Hey, it is the left side of the infield.
That wasn't only the unusual moment. Before the game, the teams combined to remove a soccer goal from an area about 180 feet down the rightfield line. The goal was parallel to that line and about 6 feet in fair territory. During the game, short cones were used to fill the holes where the posts had been.
"Don't know where that came from," said Lou D'Alonzo, Lamberton's coach. "It wasn't there last week."
While the Warriors were in the field, Bravo sometimes popped off the bench and had a catch with a teammate.
"I'm not really a pitcher, but I do like [pretending to be one]," Bravo said. "I was throwing some curves. If they needed me to pitch, I would do it, but I like third base. I just wanted to stay active. It's different to be the DH. I really paid attention when their guy was pitching. I wanted to see what he had."
Ashiy Small, the second baseman and No. 2 hitter, went 2-for-5 with three RBI. Demetrius Green posted the same at-bat numbers while setting for one fewer ribbie. His best moment was an RBI triple, while Ian Dennis laced a double.
Soph catcher Jordan Bynum, brother of senior righty Leon Bynum, collected two of the Blue Devils' three hits and his best was a triple in a two-run fifth. Simire Foulks, who also made hard contact on an out, managed a single.
Bravo, of Fillmore Street near Castor Avenue, could have opted for nearby Samuel Fels, as did his brother, Santiago Bravo-Tejada, an All-Public baseball honoree last season. However, a cousin, Jhoneil Vasquez, had played baseball at Del-Val (third base, even) and spoke highly of his experience there.
Now, Ray Bravo can crow about the day he went 5-for-5 . . . Not that he will.
"He's a very quiet kid," Cambria said. "Doesn't say much at all."
Luckily, bats have been known to speak volumes.