Wide-open spaces

Catcher Rob Gallagher covers a lot of territory behind the plate for Bishop McLaughlin.

Published May 4, 2007

SHADY HILLS - Bishop McLaughlin's baseball facilities redefine homefield advantage.

With sprawling foul territories and an equally gargantuan backstop, senior Rob Gallagher has an advantage over visiting catchers.

"Its unreal, " coach Nick Rodriguez said of the spacious layout. "When I came on this field two years ago when I got the job, I asked, 'We got a catcher?' and they said, 'That's our best player, ' and I said, 'Okay, we can work with that then.' "

And worked they have. Gallagher is one of five seniors in the Hurricanes' first senior baseball class. The team has had many firsts this year, including first time as district champ and first time hosting a region semifinal.

"When we found out it was at home and we were playing here our enthusiasm jumped, " Rodriguez said. "We have a beautiful field with some unique things about it."

As for the large foul territories, Gallagher said he is quite aware a passed ball can result in an early exit from postseason play. He said he has had to learn to be much more careful with his backup angles and not to let anything get by him.

"Rob was my best player by miles last year, " Rodriguez said. "He broke his hand the last day of basketball season and he was out for the first month and a half. While we were putting up all these amazing things, he was dying to get back. Now he's back and he's an amazing ball player."

Gallagher said homefield advantage goes beyond the foul territories, mentioning the supportive home crowd.

Any advantage the Hurricanes can get will be needed, according to Rodriguez, who has nothing but respect for tonight's opponent, Lake Mary Prep. Rodriguez said Lake Mary starts eight seniors and has won districts three years in a row.

Gallagher knows what kind of pitfalls his field holds and hopes he is more prepared than his counterpart.

"A lot of people come on our field and if they make a bad throw, it's a triple, " Rodriguez said. "It makes me teach a lot of the little aspects of the game that a lot of people forget about."

Tonight's game

Class A

Lake Mary Prep (20-6) at Bishop McLaughlin (18-5), 4 p.m.

Outlook: The Hurricanes will go into the biggest game in school history with their biggest player on the mound, Chris "Big Country" Overbeck, who is 10-1. Michael Gonzalez leads B-Mac in hitting with a .459 average, and Marcel Duarte has a team-leading four home runs and 29 RBIs.

If Bishop McLaughlin wins: The Hurricanes will host the winner of Orangewood Christian-Seven Rivers Christian in the region finals Tuesday.