Leading off the South Jersey championship game, Evan Giordano drove the third pitch over the left-field fence.
Leading off the state championship game, Giordano worked the count to 2-2, then reached base on a hit by pitch.
Those two at-bats in Gloucester Catholic’s two biggest games of the season summed up Giordano’s versatility as well as his value.
He was a table-setter who also could flip the table and announce that the Rams were open for business.
“He was the guy who came through for us all year long,” Gloucester Catholic coach Adam Tussey said of Giordano. “He was our leader.”
A senior shortstop who led Gloucester Catholic to its 19th state title and second in a row, Giordano in the Inquirer’s South Jersey baseball player of the year.
Giordano batted .543. He hit safely in 27 of 28 games. He ended the season with a 24-game hitting streak.
Giordano was second in the state in hits (51). He was second in doubles (14). He was third in runs (47) and fourth in RBIs (42). He was third in home runs (12).
He was tops in the state in extra-base hits with 30, including four triples.
“Thirty?” Giordano said after the state championship game. “That’s a lot.”
That’s about as far as Giordano will go in promoting his own accomplishments. He said the best part of his individual season was that it ended in another state championship for the Rams, who have won six titles since 2010.
“I’ve been playing with these guys since I was 12 with Brooklawn,” Giordano said of his teammates. “As far as the season I had, that’s how I look at it. It was more doing it with the players around me, my teammates.”
By the program’s lofty standards, this wasn’t a typical season for Gloucester Catholic (20-8). The Rams lost three games in Tri-County Diamond Division play, to Schalick, Glassboro, and Delsea.
Giordano, who lives in Sewell, said the Rams’ inconsistent play only added to his focus.
“I think my focus was really there this season,” Giordano said. “Being a senior was part of it. But I also think because we had more losses than usual, I was kind of focused on doing anything I could to help us win …”
Tussey said Giordano, a three-year starter and a top defensive shortstop, was an ideal leadoff hitter because of his willingness to take pitches.
“He wasn’t just walking into fastballs,” Tussey said. “He would get in the box and work the count. He hit curveballs. He hit change-ups. So many of his home runs this season were with two strikes.”
A Stony Brook recruit, Giordano said he is reserved by nature and prefers to lead by example.
“I don’t like being that kid that screams at other kids if something goes wrong,” Giordano said. “There’s other guys on the team that have a louder voice, that are more verbal. I just like to show by example.”
Said Tussey: “He doesn’t say much, but when he opens his mouth, everybody listens.”
Junior first baseman Luke Lesch, who hit a home run in the state final, said Giordano’s work ethic inspired his teammates.
“He’s the hardest-working kid I’ve ever been around,” Lesch said of Giordano. “Even after practice, he always was going to the cage to put more work in.”
Giordano’s on-base percentage was .619 as he had 15 walks and reached four times on hit by pitches. His slugging percentage was .936 for an off-the-charts OPS of 1.555.
Giordano was at his best against top opponents. In two games against Non-Public A state champion St. Augustine, he was 3-for-8 with two doubles. He was 3-for-4 with six RBIs vs. Steinert. He was 3-for-5 with four runs vs. Clearview. He was 2-for-3 with three runs vs. South Jersey Group 1 champion Pennsville. He was 2-for-3 with two home runs vs. South Jersey Group 2 top seed West Deptford.
— Philip Anastasia (@PhilAnastasia) June 9, 2018
Giordano took his game to another level in the state tournament. He hit two home runs with five RBIs in the postseason opener against Mater Dei.
In the Non-Public South B final against top-seeded Immaculata, Giordano set the tone for the Rams’ 5-1 victory by looking at a pair of curveballs for a 1-1 count, then lacing a fastball over the fence at Diamond Nation.
And in the Rams’ 10-3 win over DePaul in the state final, Giordano led off by reaching base on a hit by pitch, scored the game’s first run and finished 2-for-3 with an RBI triple.
“He had a special season,” Tussey said. “I’m so happy for him because he works so hard and he does it all with the team in mind. He was just unbelievable.”