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Storno, Carmen power Panthers past Salesian

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Thursday April 11, 2002

A typical start by St. Mary’s High’s Joe Storno involves lots of baserunners, lots of pitches and plenty of nail-biting. Luckily for the Panthers, Storno’s outing against Salesian on Wednesday was anything but typical. 

Storno threw a complete game against the Chieftans, striking out eight to lead St. Mary’s to a 4-2 win to take over first place in the BSAL. The Panthers are now 3-0 in league play (7-9 overall), while Salesian dropped to 4-1 (13-3 overall). 

Storno needed just 88 pitches to beat Salesian, surrendering only three hits and walking none. For a pitcher who goes well into triple digits in most starts, Wednesday’s win was remarkably efficient. 

“Having no walks was the key today,” Storno said. “It felt like the fifth inning in the seventh. I could have gone a couple more.” 

Salesian ace Randy Renn wasn’t his usual sharp self, enduring bouts of wildness all game. He walked the leadoff hitter in each of the first two innings, and both scored for 2-0 St. Mary’s lead. Chris Morocco scored in the first when Chris Alfert got caught in a rundown, and Storno doubled home Tom Carmen in the second. 

Carmen himself hit the big blow in the fourth inning. After Chase Moore reached on an error, St. Mary’s head coach Andy Shimabukuro intended to bunt the runner over, but decided to give Carmen one pitch to get a hit. Carmen took advantage, blasting Renn’s first pitch well over the 350-foot sign in left-center for his first home run of the season. 

Storno would make the 4-0 lead stand up. He gave up both runs in the fifth inning, as Anthony Barley and Renn hit doubles, with Renn scoring on a wild throw by St. Mary’s catcher Sean Ayres. But rather than fall back into his old pattern, Storno responded by striking out the side, then setting down the last six Salesian hitters in order. He even contributed on defense, fielding three comebackers in the last two innings, including a diving stop and throw from his knees on a Dar Sefide bunt. 

“That’s actually my favorite part of the game,” Storno said of his fielding prowess. “Most guys like to hit, but I love to field. I love diving for the ball.” 

The Panthers not only took over the league lead, but they also avenged an ugly 13-0 beating by the Chieftans last week in the San Marin Tournament. Shimabukuro said the loss may have actually helped his team in the rematch. 

“I had the feeling (Salesian) might come in over-confident,” he said. “I don’t know if this makes us the league favorites, but it sure feels good to beat the top team.” 

Of course, the Panthers still must get through the rest of the BSAL to assure themselves of a North Coast Section playoff berth. The shaky second starter’s spot, currently a competition between several pitchers, will be key to the team’s success. 

“If we lose Friday (against St. Patrick), this win won’t mean much,” Shimabukuro said. “Nothing’s going to be easy. And if it’s easy, we usually find a way to make it hard.” 

But on Wednesday, Storno sure made it look easy.