Evan Giordano is not a home-run hitter.
He just hits home runs.
It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one, for the Gloucester Catholic senior, who prefers to be known as a top defensive shortstop, table-setting leadoff man and consistent sprayer of line drives in the gap.
Giordano has done all that this season, as evidenced by his .571 batting average, 31 runs, 32 hits, 12 doubles, and two triples.
But the Stony Brook recruit also has hit home runs. He has six of them, more than any other season of his career.
That’s in his baseball career, including Little League, travel ball, everything.
“I’ve always had a couple every year, but it wasn’t like I ever was known for home runs,” Giordano said.
Giordano has led Gloucester Catholic to an 12-5 record and the No. 8 spot in the Inquirer Top 25 heading into Saturday’s highly anticipated clash with No. 3 St. Augustine in the first round of the 45th Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.
Through Tuesday, Giordano had a 13-game hit streak. He was leading the Rams in hits, runs, extra-base hits (20), and home runs. He was second in average and walks (10).
“He’s been unbelievable,” Gloucester Catholic coach Adam Tussey said. “He’s been squaring up everything all season long.”
Tussey believes Giordano’s power surge has come from an offseason of dedication in the weight room.
Giordano said he worked on his swing during the offseason with former Paul VI player Guy Lynam, who runs the All-Out travel program. Giordano said he concentrated on generating power from his legs.
“Just focusing on my back hip and exploding from there,” Giordano said.
It sounds counterintuitive, but Giordano believes the home runs are a product of not trying to hit home runs.
“My confidence has been better this season and I’m not trying to do too much,” Giordano said. “I’m trying to do less.
“Just trying to square it up instead of trying to hit doubles or home runs. I’m just trying to hit it hard somewhere.”
Tussey sees things much the same way, figuring that Giordano’s power has come from a conscious effort not to hit for power.
“He put in the time and work in the weight room,” Tussey said. “But he hasn’t made any drastic changes to his swing. Homers have never been Evan’s approach.
“But I think after his first few home runs, he realized he didn’t have to over-swing to do damage on the ball. That helped build confidence in him trusting his approach.”
Giordano said he’s approaching the plate with as much confidence as any time in his career. “I’m going up thinking I can do something special,” he said.
One sure sign of Giordano’s confidence at the plate has been his ability to hit with two strikes. According to Tussey, four of Giordano’s home runs have come with two strikes.
“I feel like if you tense up with two strikes, things are not going to happen for you,” Giordano said. “I just try to keep it calm with two strikes, just put it in play. I’m not trying to hit home runs.”
Even as a leadoff hitter, Giordano is tied for the team lead in RBIs with 27. He attributes that to production at the bottom of the team’s lineup.
“It’s like there isn’t a bottom to our lineup,” Giordano said. “We all grind out at-bats.”
Giordano said his approach has remained the same even as he has consistently knocked the ball over the fence. He keeps telling himself that he’s not a home-run hitter, all evidence to the contrary.
He just occasionally hits home runs.
“In beginning, I hit a couple and I had to remind myself, ‘Don’t try and hit home runs,’” Giordano said. “I tell myself every once in a while, ‘Hit it hard somewhere. Try to stay up the middle.’”
45th Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic
At Maple Shade
West Deptford vs. Riverside, 10:30 a.m.
Ocean City vs. Bishop Eustace, 1 p.m.
Gloucester Catholic vs. St. Augustine, 10:30 a.m.
Seneca vs. Gloucester, 1 p.m.
Clearview vs. Gateway, 10:30 a.m.
Eastern vs. Haddonfield, 1 p.m.
At Washington Twp.
Washington Twp. vs. Bordentown, 10:30 a.m.
Shawnee vs. Holy Spirit, 1 p.m.