Ridgefield’s Eamon Catherina has been chasing the title of horse for four years.
Assistant baseball coach Atilla Sengul has been using the metaphor of a thoroughbred – a powerful beast of burden capable of towing an entire baseball team behind him if necessary – with Catherina since he was a freshman.
Catherina had been a mere pony until the senior right-hander collected his 20th career victory Thursday in the Royals’ 10-0 victory over Secaucus in the North 2, Group 1 quarterfinals.
The Record Male Athlete of the Week threw a complete-game one-hitter, striking out nine, walking one, and impressing one particular coach.
“I’ve used that with him for motivation,” Sengul said with a laugh.
“He’s definitely a horse now.”
Said Catherina: “He comes out to the mound to give me a little break and he starts busting my chops, saying, ‘You’re acting like a little pony out there.’
“I just want to hit my spots more [with my pitches] and show him that I want to be that horse on the mound.”
Catherina didn’t set any goals before the season, even though he has closed to within one win of equaling the school career record.
But before he joins the Mercer County Community College team in the fall, he has a vision of a postgame celebration he says would make a fitting end to his time at Ridgefield.
“The only goal I’m going to remember for probably the rest of my life is being able to have that last dog pile after the [state] finals with all the kids I grew up with,” Catherina said.
“That’s probably the only memory I’m going to care about for the rest of my life.”