PICKERINGTON, Ohio – It might be an injustice to describe the recent pitching of Ryan Rafalski and Ben Berdine as simply ‘dominant.’
(Photo: Ryan Rafalski (left) and Ben Berdine (right) combined to throw 13 shutout innings this week.)
Indeed, both were downright unhittable this weekend, helping lead the Erie Steelheads 17U Prospect team to its second tournament title in the last two weeks at the Midwest Marlins 18U Classic.
In the title game, the Steelies avenged their only loss in round robin play, blaking the host Marlins, 6-0. Rafalski breezed through five innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five, needing just 64 pitches to do so. Harbor Creek’s Casey Smith pitched a pair of scoreless innings in relief to it out.
Rafalski, the former Warren Dragon star who delivered the walk-off hit in the 2019 District 10 title game against General McLane, will soon be off to Mercyhurst to play for head coach Joe Spano. In his two appearances this week, he threw nine innings, allowing just two hits while striking out 11. He didn’t allow a run.
Jackson Mattocks (Cathedral Prep) was the offensive star in the title game, driving in three, including a 2-run home run in the fifth. Berdine also was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Berdine, a rising senior at Warren, made a pair of two inning appearances on the week, including in the 12-4 semifinal win over UA Gold. Eleven of his 12 outs were recorded via strikeouts and he allowed just three base-runners.
Rafalski was also a star with his bat in the semifinal win, belting a fifth-inning grand slam that brought in Smith (Harbor Creek), Cam Williamson (Harbor Creek) and Jack Malec (Cathedral Prep).
After a slow start to the season, the Steelheads have now won seven of their last eight games.