Playing a division rival under the lights at Fordham University was enough to get Steven Rivera’s competitive juices boiling. But the Mount St. Michael star pitcher received additional motivation when he logged onto his Facebook account Wednesday morning.
It was a trash-talking message from Fordham Prep ace Sal Lisanti.
“He can’t shut me up,” Rivera said. “I had to shut him up.”
Rivera responded in a big way, tossing a two-hit gem to lead red-hot Mount St. Michael to a 2-0 win against Fordham Prep at Houlihan Park Wednesday night. After losing their first two league games, the Mountaineers have won seven in a row.
“I’m a big part of this team,” Rivera said. “If we want to go far, I’m going to have to keep pitching these great games.”
On Friday, the senior right-hander went the distance in a 1-0 victory against Stepinac. And he continued his dominance against Fordham Prep (4-2 CHSAA Bronx/Westchester A).
Mixing a lively fastball, a changeup, a curveball and a splitter – his newest pitch – Rivera struck out eight and walked four.
“He’s his own man out there,” Mount coach Wally Stampfel said. “He’s a little wacky. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but he got the job done.”
Rivera helped himself at the plate, driving in Mark Iglesias with an RBI single in the top of the first inning for the only run he’d need.
The junior second baseman missed the first two games of the season with a back injury that he originally feared would force him to miss the entire season.
“We’ve been waiting to find a leadoff hitter like him for the last five years and when he told us he wasn’t going to play, it was like ‘Oh no,’” Stampfel said. “He missed the first two or three league games, but since he’s been back, he’s a sparkplug. He just sets the table for us. He’s not real big, but he gets quality swings every at-bat.”
Iglesias also added an RBI single to center field in the fifth inning to give the Mount (7-2 CHSAA Bronx/Westchester) a 2-0 lead.
A two-run lead was a rarity last year, but it was more than enough run support on Wednesday night.