NEUMANN-GORETTI 11, ROMAN CATHOLIC 1 (5 INNINGS)
After suffering a second-round loss to Cardinal O'Hara and being placed in the loser's bracket of the Catholic League playoffs, Neumann-Goretti coach Kevin Schneider sent a text message to his players.
"It said, 'It would be pretty special if we could take the championship by winning five straight games,' " senior Charlie Jerla said.
Well, four down and one to go. With Pat Doudican starring on the hill and at the plate, the inspired Saints throttled listless Roman Catholic, 11-1, in five innings in a steady drizzle Wednesday afternoon at Widener.
That means, in what is the second year of a double-elimination format, N-G and Roman will meet again, this time with the title on the line for both, at 3:45 p.m. Friday back at Widener.
Doudican, best known for his pitching talents, went 3 for 4 with six RBIs to spark a 10-hit attack. Since he bats fifth in the order, it's not a jaw-dropping shocker.
"I've hit all my life," the 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior said. "Hitting behind (No. 3 hitter) Josh Ockimey and (cleanup man) Tommy Nardini, I know I have to provide support. They both get on base a lot."
On the mound against the Cahillites, who went 3-0 en route to reaching the finals, Doudican, with a Virginia Tech assistant watching from behind home plate, twirled a four-hitter with eight strikeouts.
The hard-throwing southpaw whiffed five in the first two innings. "My arm felt great in warmups," he said. "It felt better than it had all year."
Doudican delivered a two-run double to right field in a four-run third. In the fourth, when the Saints (19-4) upped their lead to 7-1, he drove in two more runs with a single that caromed off the first-base bag and into shallow right.
"(Roman starter Kyle Rogalski) made a mistake, put a fastball right down Broadway," Doudican said. "I just tried to put the barrel on it."
In the fifth, Doudican made it 11-1 with a two-run single to right. "He had a good game," Jerla said. "He's usually a solid hitter."
Also chipping in for N-G, which was aided by five walks and three hit batsmen, were rightfielder Bay To(2 for 3, two runs), shortstop Justin Curtin (2 for 3), and centerfielder Brian Verratti (2 for 3).
In Friday's rematch, Jerla, a lefthander and Marist commit, is expected to start for the Saints. Roman (11-11) is likely to counter with senior righthander Joe Mangano.
Neumann-Goretti 004 34-11 10 0
Roman Catholic 001 00-1 4 3
WP: Pat Doudican. LP: Kyle Rogalski. 2B: NG-Doudican; RC-Jonathan Stoffere.