Marauders catcher proves his worth

Senior catcher Matt Darr was involved in several key plays in CCC's win.

By BY CHRIS GIRANDOLA, Times Correspondent
Published May 15, 2007

SARASOTA - On Sunday night, Clearwater Central Catholic senior catcher Matt Darr scheduled his night around watching the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, just so he could analyze the way his idol, Ivan Rodriguez, operated behind the plate one more time before CCC's Class 3A state semifinal game against Jacksonville Bolles.

"I've watched him almost from the time I was a little kid, " Darr said. "He's able to affect the game in so many ways. I try to break down how he does things behind the plate as much as I can."

On Monday, his education paid off in a big way as Darr made big plays to help CCC beat the Bulldogs 3-0. It began early after CCC ace Ryan Weber received a brilliant defensive play from rightfielder Jeff Ijjas in the first inning to end a Bolles' threat.

"That was huge because I was able to make any pitch I wanted to, " Weber said. "Especially with Matt back there I knew I could start off with the changeup and work the fastball off of it. I also knew that I could throw the changeup in the dirt when I needed to because I could trust he'd smother it every time."

In the third inning, with the Marauders leading 1-0, Bolles put the first two batters on base. With their leadoff batter at the plate, Darr picked off Preston Hood at second, setting up an inning-ending double play on the next pitch.

An inning later, with runners on second and third, Darr reacted to a botched squeeze bunt and forced the Bulldog runner out. After recording the final out of the sixth on a throw home by Ijjas, Darr, who went 2-for-2 in the game, hit a double to plate a run and coming around to score on a throwing error.

"Those hits are just gravy, " said CCC coach Todd Vaughan. "We've always taught our catchers to receive, block, throw and call their own game. He's demonstrated the ability to excel in those four tools. His offense has come along throughout the year and that just adds to his defensive game."