Most baseball lineups go up and down.
Gloucester Catholic's goes around and around.
That's because the Rams really have two leadoff men in No. 1 hitter Pat Kane and No. 9 hitter Rob Alessandrine.
"That's exactly what we talk about," Gloucester Catholic senior pitcher Cody Brown said after throwing a no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Holy Cross on Tuesday in the Non-Public South B championship game. "Our 9-hole hitter is our new leadoff hitter."
Gloucester Catholic coach Dennis Barth, whose team will play Newark Academy in Saturday's Non-Public B state final at Toms River North, refers to the speedsters in his lineup - Kane, Alessandrine, and Monmouth-bound senior centerfielder Steve Wilgus - as "rabbits."
Paul VI coach Pat Fisher calls them "hornets" because of their disruptive influence on opposing defense.
Kane, a junior leftfielder, is a typical leadoff hitter. He is batting .495 with 38 runs and is 21 for 22 in steals. Wilgus, who is 19 for 19 in steals, is a typical No. 2 hitter, a lefthanded stick with great bat control.
Alessandrine makes the Rams' lineup unique. The junior shortstop would lead off or bat second for most teams in the state. He is hitting .449 with a team-high 12 doubles and is 10 for 10 in stolen bases.
But for Gloucester Catholic, Alessandrine bats ninth, giving the Rams another speedy rally-starter at the bottom of the lineup.
"I love being in the No. 9 hole," said Alessandrine, a Deptford resident who played a strong defensive game and also had two of the Rams' four hits in the sectional final. "I see a lot of fastballs and I can try to get something started for some of the best hitters in South Jersey."
The Rams, who are 30-2 and No. 1 in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, have their share of heavy hitters in juniors Joe Brooks, John Brue, Elliott McCummings, and Brett Tenuto.
But the key to the Rams' offense is their ability to put pressure on other teams. They work counts, take walks, steal bases, bunt. They always seem to have base runners, always seem to be on the verge of another big inning.
"That's our game," said Kane, who lives in Mantua.
Tuesday's game was a great example. The Rams never really got to Holy Cross lefthander Jeff Singer, a senior who allowed just four hits in a complete game.
But Alessandrine was 2 for 2. Both times, he led off innings. Both times, Kane sacrificed him to third.
Although Alessandrine didn't score, those situations were typical of the Rams' approach. Alessandrine served as a second leadoff man, and Kane as a second No. 2 hitter, using bunts to move the runner along.
"I'm really only the leadoff hitter once in a game," Kane said. "After that, we just try to get guys on base and put as much pressure on the other team as possible."