When Philly-area pitcher leaves mound, he swaps places with best friend behind the plate

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

In high school baseball games, it’s traditional for pitchers to take the field when they leave the mound. Usually they head for corner spots on the infield or an outfield role.

Burlington Township seniors Ryan Bell and David Viselli — Philadelphia Inquirer
Burlington Township seniors Ryan Bell and David Viselli — Philadelphia Inquirer

Not at Burlington Township (N.J.) High. For the Falcons, the arrangement is much more unique. When traditional starter Ryan Bell leaves the mound, he walks toward home plate and takes over catching duties. That works well because his replacement, fellow senior David Viselli, is nearly always headed to the mound to take over pitch duties from Bell.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bell and Viselli may be the only players in the country who double as both their team’s top pitchers and top catchers. Both are seniors, and both are co-captains of the Burlington Township squad.

Fittingly, the duo are best friends, too.

"It's almost like we're the same person," Bell told the Inquirer. "When he's pitching and I'm catching, he never shakes me off. When I'm pitching and he's catching, I never shake him off.

"We're both into the game on every pitch."

As it turns out, both Bell and Viselli are phenomenally talented, too. As juniors, the pair combined for 10 of Burlington Township’s 16 wins. Both players have had an active role in the other’s success, developing a near telekinetic sense of what the other wants to do on a given pitch.

"We'll be in the dugout as coaches saying, 'Let's call a pitchout,' " Burlington Townshp coach Jason Stec told the Inquirer. "They will already have called it on the field. They are both just really smart baseball players."

If there is an edge to be had among the two pitchers, it might be Viselli’s at the plate, where the teen batted .358 with 25 RBI as a junior, though Bell technically had more extra base hits.

Regardless of stats, what both players want is what’s best for the team: getting a win via any means possible, helping each other along the way.

"We know each other so well," Viselli told the Inquirer. "Bells and I are best friends on the field and off the field. We're both captains. We have the same mind-set."

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