Double trouble for Poly rivals

Baseball: With an 18-2 record over three seasons, Corey Cascio stands out as a pitcher, but he's also no slouch with a bat.

High Schools

April 27, 2003|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Ronald Cascio said he recognized the baseball talents of his son, Corey, the moment the 2-year-old picked up a big, fat whiffle-ball bat.

"We were at Patapsco State Park, and Corey's just swinging and he's whacking the ball all over the place," the elder Cascio said. "I looked around and people were just in awe. You could see then that here was a kid who was going to love the game."

Although Corey Cascio excels at the plate -- averaging .400 or better over his four seasons as a Poly starter -- it is his arm that has grabbed the attention of area college recruiters.

In three seasons as a pitcher, he is 18-2 with 202 strikeouts. Offensively, besides his batting average, he has averaged 27 runs scored, 16 RBIs, five doubles and one triple and home run.

"I'm being recruited for pitching, but I've averaged over .400 as a hitter all three years," said Cascio, a right-hander who is getting looks from Towson, Salisbury, Mount St. Mary's and Delaware. His 3.85 grade point average and 1,170 SAT score don't hurt, either.

"When I'm pitching, I'm out there trying to make the best pitches that you can," he said. "But it's always in the back of my mind to get that no-hitter or that perfect game. If it's in the cards that you're dealt, so be it. But I try not to let it affect every inning."

Cascio earned second-team All-Metro honors last fall after leading the Engineers to their second straight Baltimore City League title, an 18-1 record and a berth in the Class 2A North regional semifinals.

So far this year, Cascio is 4-1 for the Engineers (12-1). He has allowed one hit in each of his wins. He has also struck out 53 batters in 24 innings -- including a season-high 15 in a 2-0 shutout of Southern of Baltimore -- and walked 13. At the plate, he is among Poly's top hitters, batting .424 with four doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

Also, Cascio has become more of a leader on and off the field.

"Corey's a quiet leader, not cocky, but the way he carries himself is an asset," said Poly coach Chris Vaccaro. "I've never had a problem with Corey giving any less than 110 percent."

When Vaccaro arrived at the start of Cascio's sophomore year, the latter was among the Engineers' more seasoned players, having competed in the offseason with the Baltimore Baseball Club, the Yankee Rebels and the Cockeysville Red Birds.

"When [assistant coach] Corey Goodwin started developing him as a sophomore, he already threw a decent fastball and a curveball, so we started working on a third pitch," Vaccaro said of Cascio, who went 8-0 and struck out 68 that season.

"He really gained a lot of confidence last year, to the point where he wanted to throw a slider," Vaccaro said. "Now he's added a changeup, so he can throw four pitches with location, hitting his spots. At the next level, he'll go a long way."

Last season, Cascio went 8-1 with 81 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA.

Cascio's reputation often precedes him against city rivals, particularly Patterson, the school closest to his Highlandtown home.

"This year, we played a soccer game at Patterson, and one of their football players who also plays baseball was telling me how he was going to hit a bomb on me and they were going to whip up on us," said Cascio, a midfielder on Poly's two city championship soccer teams.

"You live around them, so you see them. So when they're running their mouths, it gets my adrenaline pumping for the competition. They're out to get me and I'm out to prove them wrong, like, `You can't hit me because I'm always ready to go.' "

With Cascio in the lineup the past three seasons, Poly is 47-5 overall (44-2 against the city). But as dominant as he's been against city teams, he still finds he has to prove himself to friends from other schools.

"Through summer ball, it doesn't matter what I say or do, I'm still from the city. So I feel I always have something to prove because no matter how good of a team we have at Poly, they always look down on us," Cascio said.

"I agree that the competition in the city is not as good as county competition, but we still have an above-average team and we can compete. That's why we set a goal at the beginning of the season to advance deep into the states. If we can, we want to win it all."

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