Evan McCoach had one more big swing in him before calling it a year.
The Neumann-Goretti High School center fielder had just completed his junior year, which included a fantastic baseball season that included 20 hits, 10 RBIs, six doubles, a triple and three home runs for the Saints.
On June 14, he represented the talented Philadelphia Catholic League in the 37th Annual Carpenter Cup Classic at FDR Park. Bases loaded, pressure situation — McCoach lives for that stuff.
“That’s what you hope for, for an opportunity like that to show what you got,” McCoach said with a smile. “I just tried to stay calm and put the bat on the ball with two strikes and do my thing.”
The left-hander smashed a ball to the fence in right field to clear the bases and give Philadelphia Catholic a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Unfortunately for McCoach and his teammates, the team dropped a 7-6 decision to Olympic-Colonial of New Jersey, which advanced to play in the quarterfinal round of the 16-team tournament, which showcases the most talented high school players in Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware.
Neumann-Goretti was well-represented with five players on the 25-man team made up of PCL All-Stars. McCoach was joined by shortstop Yariel Rodriguez, catcher Jimmy Gallo and pitchers Joe Gallagher and Jayce Park. Gallo and Rodriguez joined McCoach in the starting lineup and the three batted in order, which made McCoach’s blast even more memorable as he knocked in his two buddies, who had reached base safely before him.
“With Jimmy, NeNe (Rodriguez) and me, it’s a great feeling to represent our school,” McCoach said. “It’s really great on this stage.”
Rodriguez was pretty confident that his teammate would come up big in a big spot after witnessing it first-hand all spring.
“There’s never a doubt in my mind that he’s going to produce,” said Rodriguez, who was the lone senior on Neumann-Goretti’s 2023 team. “During the season, he would be getting on base for me, but I’m glad I could get on for him and see that pop that he has and get me home.”
McCoach is committed to play at Rutgers University after he graduates high school next year and plans on studying exercise science. He said the Scarlet Knights’ baseball program resembled something he’s grown to love in South Philly the last few years.
“I wanted to stay close to home all along and I really feel like they bring that energy,” said McCoach, who lives in the Marconi neighborhood of South Philly. “They have that high school feeling that Neumann-Goretti has with family. They have the grit and that Northeast feel of baseball. I wanted to keep that going into college and stay close.”
He should do just fine when he gets there as McCoach has matured into a leader despite being only a junior.
“Evan was like having another senior out there with me,” Rodriguez said. “He’s always had that character in him. He’s been a leader ever since I met him. He’s always had that fire in him.”
That fire for the 2024 high school season has already ignited under McCoach. And it’s spreading.
“Once this summer starts, I know all the guys are going to be starting our season from Day 1 right now,” McCoach said. “The old season ends, the new season begins. We’re all excited and we get a lot of our guys back. We’re really hyped for next season.”