CLICHÉ BE darned, when Roger Hanson steps on the mound, he revels in the idea of pitching for something bigger than himself.
Yesterday, the senior righthander for George Washington High didn't need much help, pitching a one-hitter while striking out 12 in the Eagles' 3-0 taming of previously unbeaten Franklin Towne Charter.
And although fatigue caused a few slight hiccups late, the only hit Hanson allowed came from the game's first batter.
But afterward, the 6-foot, 185-pounder wanted to talk only about everybody else.
"Yeah, I got into a little bit of trouble," Hanson said, "but I have seven guys behind me, one in front of me and a whole group of coaches, players and fans on the sidelines. I'm pitching for them. I'm not just pitching for myself."
Highlighter green tape affixed to the webbing of his glove underlined the point. According to head coach Ken Geiser and his players, Andrea Seitchik, a teacher at Washington, has been battling a serious kidney ailment that could require a transplant.
Hanson also wore a green ribbon - also in support of kidney disease awareness - pinned to the top of his cap in homage to his beloved teacher. His teammates sported similar acknowledgements.
"We thought it would be nice to tribute a game to her before the season is over," Hanson said. "I had her sophomore year and ever since then, she's been more than a teacher to me. Anything I ever need, she's always there. That's why I really wanted to play a game for her. And a lot of guys have had her in the past and they're just as close to her as I am."
Yesterday's Public League Division A pitching duel was hosted by Washington, although the Coyotes (10-1) were the home team, because the game was originally scheduled for FTC's field on Torresdale Avenue and Devereaux Street.
The Eagles (10-1) amassed just five hits, three from senior Scott Siley (3-for-4, RBI).
Sophomore righty Christian Diaz, whose defense hindered his outstanding effort with four fielding errors, started for the Coyotes and gave up three runs (two earned) with six strikeouts and three walks on 115 pitches.
"It's a huge win, knowing that Franklin Towne was the top team in the Public League and they've had the best record since the season began," said Hanson, who was second-team All-Pub as a pitcher last season.
Because the Eagles now own the tiebreaker against FTC, the victory also means they can clinch the division with a win Monday against Frankford.
And, of course, Hanson was keenly aware of his one-hit bid throughout what might be called the Eagles' biggest game thus far.
"Nah, I actually didn't," he said with a smile. "I usually don't pay attention to that during the game. Think of that after."
However, he did know that FTC junior Phil Gilchrist, a teammate and friend in summer ball, got the Coyotes' only hit.
"Once he got that hit of off me I was like, 'Oh, man, now I'm gonna have to hear it,' " Hanson said, laughing. "But I came back and struck him out, so it's all right."
Hanson, who lives on Basil Road in the Northeast, not far from Archbishop Ryan, plans to attend Bucks County Community College next year, where he wants to study physical education and try out for the baseball team.
And because he has close family and friends who are police officers, Hanson also wants to follow that path.
"I know a lot cops and they say they love their job," he said. "It's a dangerous job, but I like serving for people, serving for my country and everything."
That includes his teammates. In particular, Hanson singled out senior Gilad Metro, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI and played shortstop after fracturing an orbital bone near his eye during practice on Tuesday.
Unknown to Hanson and his teammates, Metro showed up for the game - in uniform.
"That is the meaning of dedication," he said. "That got us so pumped up. Oh, my God! It was awesome. He's a great guy."
Hanson added later: "My teammates, how could I ask for a better team?"