Sunday, February 7, 2016

Baseball: Jerla and Saints cruise to title

NEUMANN-GORETTI 11, ROMAN CATHOLIC 0 (5 INNINGS)

Baseball: Jerla and Saints cruise to title

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Neumann-Goretti senior lefthander Charlie Jerla struck out eight while allowing four hits in Friday's 11-0, five-inning rout of Roman Catholic. The Saints won their second Catholic League title in three seasons and fourth in six years.

NEUMANN-GORETTI 11, ROMAN CATHOLIC 0 (5 INNINGS)

Since Josh Ockimey has witnessed Charlie Jerla's intense competitive nature on the diamond and during CrossFit workouts, he had a strong sense for how the Neumann-Goretti hurler would respond to the early chirping from Roman Catholic's dugout.

"The light went on for him right there," the senior first baseman said. "He buckled up, went right to work. The Roman players had no idea what was in store for them."

With the fiery Jerla notching eight strikeouts and contributing a two-run double, the Saints captured their fourth Catholic League championship in six seasons with an 11-0, five-inning romp over the Cahillites Friday at La Salle High's Ward Field.

"He's a senior who needed to step up, and he did in every shape and form," N-G rookie coach Kevin Schneider said.

The second game of the series (N-G also won via the 10-run mercy rule in Wednesday's opener) was switched to La Salle after Widener's field was deemed unplayable following the heavy rain and hail that fell Thursday.

It was the third Catholic League crown for Ockimey, who is ticketed for Indiana, and the Marist-bound Jerla. "It's my senior year, so that makes this one the best," Ockimey said.

Jerla, a southpaw and the squad's No. 2 pitcher, limited Roman to four hits. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder mixed a fastball that has been clocked at 86 m.p.h., curveball, and change-up.

"Everything was working really well for me," said the 18-year-old, who lives near 2d and Dickinson in South Philly. "My bullpen felt awesome."

It was Jerla's second straight stellar outing. In a loser's bracket contest last Saturday against La Salle, he allowed only four hits and fanned five in a 1-0 triumph at 26th and Moore. "That was one of the gustiest performances I've seen," Schneider said.

In Friday's rematch vs. Roman, Jerla, who walked two of 21 batters, threw 80 pitches, with 56 for strikes. He whiffed four in the first two frames.

"He loves to compete," Schneider said. "That's something he does that is real, from the heart, and makes him successful."

The Saints (20-4) took control with a four-run third that was highlighted by Jerla's two-run double to right-center field. They tacked on seven runs, on only two hits, in a fourth that included RBI singles from Pat Doudican and Brian Verratti.

The Cahillites (11-12) ran out of gas after going 3-0 to start the playoffs. After posting a 7-8 mark in the Red Division during the regular season, they nearly won their first league title since 1992.

N-G will take on Philadelphia Academy Charter, the Public League representative, for the District 12 Class AAA title at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at Richie Ashburn Field, in FDR Park.

Roman lost out on its chance to play for the District 12 Class AAAA crown. La Salle, the Red Division's regular-season champ, will represent the Catholic League against George Washington next week.

Roman Catholic 000 00-0 4 2

Neumann-Goretti 004 7x-11 6 0

WP: Charlie Jerla. LP: Joe Mangano. 2B: RC-Mike Opiela, Conor Smith; NG-Jerla.

Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
Rick O’Brien has been at The Inquirer since 1993, primarily covering high school sports in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Reach Rick at robrien@phillynews.com.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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