A Picchiotti homered in the OPRF baseball team's 13-7 win over St. Rita in the Mt. Carmel Sectional semifinal last week, but it wasn't the one you'd expect.
Frank Picchiotti belted a three-run homer in the second inning to put OPRF up 6-2 at the time.
"For some reason, I was feeling a lot more comfortable than always," said Picchiotti. "I was seeing the ball really well. I knew I got it pretty good."
Oddly enough, Picchiotti said he felt more comfortable than usual despite playing with a heavily-taped ankle. He sprained the ankle during last week's regional at OPRF and, according to Ledbetter, could barely run on it as of yesterday. But his home run, single and walk weren't the only things masking his injury.
Picchiotti showed up Wednesday with conspicuous white tape surrounding his ankle, which prompted head coach Chris Ledbetter to request a closer look.
"I said, 'Frankie, let's at least go to the trainer's room and put black tape on it so people don't know," explained Ledbetter, adding he expected Picchiotti to be his usual self Saturday. "I don't want them to know he can't steal a base."
The thought of Picchiotti hitting a home run was the furthest thing from Ledbetter's mind as he rode with the team to Mt. Carmel, not only because of his player's ankle injury, but also because Picchiotti had hit just one on the season before last week's game.
Ledbetter explained he told assistant coach Wayne Wente, "I need a home run today. We need a home run homer, preferably a three-run from a non-Picchiotti," said Ledbetter after the game. "But I wasn't referring to Frankie, I was referring to Jack, who's usually the one who hits our big playoff home runs. So I was basically saying if we can get a three-run homer from someone other than Jack...well, it turned out to be the other Picchiotti. I guess I phrased it wrong."
Despite Picchiotti's second-inning home run, OPRF never could quite put St. Rita away. A 6-2 lead turned into a 6-4 advantage going into the middle innings, with starter Zach Weigel picking up some key scoreless frames as the Huskies' offense stagnated against hard-throwing left-hander Joey Filomeno.
Even when OPRF knocked Filomeno out of the game and plated seven runs with two outs in the fifth, Ledbetter didn't feel the game was in hand. It took pitcher PJ Brennan's key strikeout with the bases loaded to end the sixth to finally give OPRF some breathing room.
"It was never going to be easy," said Ledbetter. "That's why I brought PJ in, because I knew it wasn't going to be easy."