Joe Miller was a role player for La Salle last season, filling in as a pitcher and getting the occasional at-bat.
Now, after patiently waiting his turn, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior is an ace southpaw and a regular in center field when not on the mound.
On Wednesday afternoon in chilly South Philly, Miller whiffed six and scattered four singles in five innings, as the visiting Explorers surprisingly routed Neumann-Goretti, 9-1, in a Catholic League matchup.
“This is my first real taste of varsity ball, so it’s exciting,” Miller said. “Last year, I was used mostly as a middle reliever and batted, maybe, five times.”
Miller, who is ticketed for Penn, mixed a fastball that topped out at 91 mph last summer, a slider, and change-up. He escaped a bases-load jam in the third with a strikeout, and the Saints scored an unearned run in the fourth.
La Salle racked up 12 hits while improving to 7-0 overall to take sole possession of first place in the Catholic League with a 4-0 record.
“Neumann-Goretti won the league title last year, so it feels great to get come here and get the win,” Miller said.
The start of the game was delayed a half-hour because of La Salle’s late arrival. “We have a new schedule, and classes end 20 minutes later than they did before,” Miller said.
Miller played last summer and fall for the Whiz Kids, a showcase squad that is directed by Bill Angeloni. The 18-year-old’s teammates included La Salle brothers Andrew and Anthony Cossetti and Penn Charter brothers Mike and Sammy Siani.
“I’ve been playing with the Whiz Kids since I was 12,” Miller said. “Practicing and playing for them has really helped build my confidence.”
Andrew Cossetti, a senior catcher, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run against the Saints (5-1, 3-1).
Cossetti, also a third baseman, is bound for St. Joseph’s.
“I’ve been throwing to Andrew since I was 13,” Miller said. “He’s great behind the plate, and, obviously, quite a hitter.”
Explorers senior shortstop and Princeton recruit Eric Marasheski went 2-for-4 and scored two runs from the leadoff spot. His single plated No. 9 batter Jack Ruch (3-for-4) in a three-run fifth.
“They have a lot of seniors on their roster,” Neumann-Goretti coach Mike “Zoom” Zolk said, ” and their experience showed against us.
Miller, of Hatboro, maintains a 4.3 grade-point average and plans to major in business at Penn.
La Salle 002 031 3 – 9 12 2
Neumann-Goretti 000 100 0 – 1 5 2
WP: Joe Miller. LP: Joe Messina. 2B: LS-Andrew Cossetti; 3B: LS-Joe Rossi.