Holy Spirit High School cleanup hitter Ryan Solari, shown during a win over Atlantic City on Thursday, was batting .420 entering the game. He will continue his education and baseball career at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia

Edward Lea

Ryan Solari could be described as an accidental baseball player.

The Holy Spirit High School senior initially played just football and hockey when his athletic career began.

But when he was 8, a neighbor talked Solari's father, Chris, into letting the boy play baseball.

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Baseball quickly became Solari's favorite sport.

"It's crazy," Solari said. "I'm happier playing baseball than I would have been playing football or hockey. I'm excited my dad was talked into letting me play."

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Solari made the Holy Spirit varsity as a sophomore. He now bats cleanup for the Spartans, who are 9-3. Solari is batting .420 with more than 20 RBIs before Thursday's game.

He will continue his career and education at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia as a preferred walk-on. Solari, 18, lives in Brigantine.

Spirit has a busy weekend. The Spartans will try to win their seventh straight Al Hedelt Tournament at Oakcrest on Saturday.

Spirit will play Buena Regional in a 12:30 p.m. semifinal with the final slated for 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday, Spirit will play Cherry Hill East at 1:30 p.m. in the Baseball Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Millville High School.

In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Solari spoke about several topics, including playing left field and surviving Hurricane Sandy on a barrier island.

On batting cleanup: I don't see a lot of fastballs. It's mostly curveballs and changeups. My coach (Bob Soifer) always tells me to be easy in the box. I calm down and only swing at strikes.

On playing left field: Growing up I actually caught and played third base. But as soon as I hit high school I switched to left field. I like it. I have my partner in crime, Brandon Ott, in center field. We're a good team out there.

On graduation: I'm going to miss Holy Spirit a lot. A lot of my friends go to high school with me, and now we're leaving. It's going to be a sad moment.

On his decision to attend Chestnut Hill: I visited there, and it was really homey. I felt like I could go there and still be close to my family.

On growing up in Brigantine: I like living there. All my friends grew up there and they still live there. I go to the beach every day in the summer. It's my favorite spot to go.

On Hurricane Sandy's effect on his home: We stayed at our house. My whole bottom floor got flooded. We had cars ruined. We were on the second floor watching the water keep rising and rising. We were hoping it would stop, but it never did. It was actually pretty scary.

Contact Michael McGarry:


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