By Phil Anastasia
If Donovan Casey was a basketball player, he would like the backdoor cut.
If he was a football player, he would prefer the end around.
Casey is a baseball player, so his idea of misdirection involves an inverse order of pitch selection.
"My change-up is my favorite pitch," Casey said after leading Sterling to a 7-0 victory over West Deptford Thursday in a key Colonial Conference Liberty Division game.
Casey, a junior right-hander, pitched a four-hitter with nine strikeouts. He retired 17 of the final 18 batters without allowing a ball out of the infield.
Chris Mazzone delivered a two-run single and J.T. Harding hit a two-run home run for Sterling (7-1 overall, 5-1 in the Colonial).
West Deptford (4-3, 3-1) squandered some early chances as the Eagles had five baserunners in the first two innings.
"We have to take advantage of our opportunities," West Deptford coach John Oehler said. "We let them get out ahead of us and that changed the game."
Sterling scored four in the first as Ryan McGoldrick led off with a double and Mazzone rapped a two-run single. Two other runs scored on errors.
Harding, the team's No. 9 hitter, drove a pitch over the left-field fence to give the home team a 6-0 lead in the third.
"We needed a win in a big way," said Sterling coach Chris Hoffman, whose team suffered its first loss Tuesday by a 5-4 score to Woodbury. "That loss was a wake-up call. We knew we needed to gear up for West Deptford."
Unlike most pitchers, Casey works backwards: He uses his change-up and curveball to set up his fastball, not vice versa.
He said his change-up has been his best pitch since he discovered a new grip in the spring of his freshman year.
"I must have tried five or six different grips and none of them were working for me," Casey said. "Now I throw kind of a circle change. I found the grip and I was like, 'Wow, it works for me. The ball drops off the table.'"
Casey escaped first-inning trouble with a strikeout and pickoff. He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a pair of strikeouts in the second.
Those two strikeouts kicked off a run of 16 consecutive retired batters. He struck out six in the stretch but also got eight ground outs and two pop-outs.
"He flooded the (strike) zone," Oehler said of Casey. "Give him credit. He did a great job."
West Deptford 000 000 0 -- 0 4 3
Sterling 402 100 x -- 7 9 0
WP: Donovan Casey. LP: Ty Castellano.
2B: S-Ryan McGoldrick.
HR: S-J.T. Harding.