THE DULL, WHITE baseball nearly vanished as it rocketed off Anthony DeVito's bat and climbed into the overcast sky hovering above the Central High field at the corner of Ogontz and Somerville avenues.
Save for the patches of dark clouds that appeared almost brush-stroked against the whiteness, the ball may have been completely obscured. That is until it crashed back down to earth, over the fielder's head in left-centerfield.
One run scored, putting the Lancers ahead, 2-0, in the first inning, well on their way to a 15-0 conquest yesterday of Prep Charter in a Public League Division A contest that lasted only three innings and took just 64 minutes.
The ultra-intense DeVito, a senior who will pitch at Mercer County Community College next season, wound up at second with a fist pump and a double. And the only reason why the city scenery had relevance is because DeVito had been daydreaming about it all day.
"I have a big love for baseball," he said. "Sitting over there in school, I find my mind wandering off a lot, thinking about baseball . . . I love baseball. I'm constantly thinking about baseball."
Freedom to roam the halls at lunch means the 6-3, 210-pound righthander posts up in the Spain Conference Center inside the school because it has a view of the field. Plus, his attention mayyyy occasionally wane during a class or two.
"It's a pretty consistent thing," DeVito joked. "I don't want to get in trouble with any of my teachers, but . . . "
It doesn't seem as if he's kidding about the consistency.
"When I drive, I keep a baseball in my car," he said. "I drive with one hand, and, in my right hand, I play with grips and just play with the ball in my hand."
So if you see DeVito's silver Toyota 4Runner driving near his home on Levick Street and Hasbrook Avenue in the Northeast, you have an idea of what's going on inside the cockpit.
On the field yesterday, there was mainly dominance.
The Lancers (12-6, 8-4) finished with 15 hits to only one for the Huskies (6-4-1, 4-4 in league play), and DeVito needed only 33 pitches to strike out one and walk another in three innings. Justin Bocelli started and took the loss for the Huskies.
Offensively, DeVito went 3-for-3 with three RBI. Senior Keith McFarlane (four RBI) and sophomore Dan Feyley (two RBI) each also went 3-for-3. Senior Andrew Cesario went 2-for-2 and added an exciting outfield assist from center that nabbed a runner at third (the only Husky to safely reach second) and ended the second inning.
Prep Charter first baseman Michael Torres slapped the team's lone hit into center that Cesario fielded and threw to third.
Not too bad for a Central team that had its first, full outdoor practice on Tuesday. Head coach Rich Weiss explained that inclement weather had kept the team indoors.
"It's good that we're coming together," DeVito said. "We have a good group of guys. We feed off of intensity. We feed off each other's energy or lack of energy."
Harnessing his own passion for the game has proved difficult at times.
"I used to be so intense and try to do too much," he said, "instead of now just saying, 'OK, you know how to play. Just go do your thing.' "
On the mound, that means fastball, splitter and curveball. Anything at the plate, he said, is a bonus. He also seemed to describe himself as humbly intense. In that vein, his favorite pitcher is former New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera and his favorite NBA player is Kevin Durant.
He also made a point to single out his parents, Debra and Paul, for their constant support.
As for his teachers becoming aware of his penchant for daydreaming, perhaps his final thought will keep him in good stead. He is a 3.3 GPA student with eyes on business or engineering.
"Central has matured me, humbled me," DeVito said. "It's a great school. Everyone always says, 'Oh, I hate school,' and I've had my hard times at Central, because it's a tough academic school, but, honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world."