Bonner headed to CL final against Neumann-Goretti

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Bonner's Jim Murphy is hit by a pitch with bases loaded in the 11th inning to force in winning run.

RECORDS INDICATE Ronnie Scull will not graduate from Monsignor Bonner High until June 2012.

Coulda fooled his heart.

Due to a late-season promotion from JV in '09, Scull is a third-year varsity player and, like everyone except for catcher Paul Shepherd, the lone returning starter from last year's Catholic League champions, he's new to mainstay status. But not to brotherhood bonds.

"I always knew these seniors were a good group of kids," Scull said. "Even 2 years ago, they were always talking about how they wanted to win states their senior year.

"Then last year, after not playing too much, they talked about how they wanted to win another Catholic League title. So they could have one of their own."

Chance for that? Coming right up.

Today at 4 o'clock, at Widener University, the Friars will meet Ss. Neumann-Goretti for the CL crown - and Scull deserves multipronged credit.

Saturday, the 5-11, 200-pounder enjoyed huge moments as a hitter, reliever, fielder and even a trickster as Bonner bested Archbishop Wood, 5-4, in 11 innings, at La Salle High, thus claiming a wildly entertaining semifinal.

The deciding moment was a limp-off HBP. One out after walks to Jim Haley and Rich Young and Shepherd's bunt single (would-be sacrifice) loaded the bases, Jim Murphy took a first-pitch curveball from reliever Rich Rosenbaum on his left knee.

Surprised an amazing game could end in such ho-hum fashion, everyone momentarily froze. But then Haley frolicked his way to the plate and the Friars went berserk.

Scull began the game at DH, then was called upon to pitch with one out and runners on first and second in the visiting seventh. But while he escaped the jam, this was still the reality: Bonner trailed, 4-2.

No sweat. A one-out single by Joe Haley, Jim's brother, made it 4-3. Scull's two-out single, a shot through the left side, created a tie.

"Exciting. Very exciting," he said. "When I was walking up to bat, I was thinking about freshman year. How I got to pinch-hit against Roman in the playoffs [first round], but struck out to end the year. I told myself, 'I'll never let that happen to the seniors again.' Could have been the same situation again.

"I played football with most of these seniors and we've been pointing to baseball season since October. We have a good friendship and we love playing, and it's nice to play another day."

Bonner's starting pitcher was senior righthander Marty McKeone, who lasted two batters into the fifth. Though Scull expected to follow, the call went to rightfield for Joe Haley.

"I was a little disappointed," Scull acknowledged. "But Joey kept us in it, which I expected him to do, then I did get my chance."

After Bonner fell into a 4-1, fourth-inning hole, coach Joe DeBarberie, at high volume, reminded his players, "We've been down at this field before! Later than this, too!"

On April 7, the Friars trailed La Salle, 4-2, heading into the seventh. They forged a tie and then won, 9-4, in nine innings.

"Same, same thing that day," Scull remembered. "Joey was the first reliever and I was the second."

In this one, Scull pitched 4 innings of shutout, two-hit ball. Though he walked four, he fanned one more.

Scull first helped himself in the eighth, when he used a full, sacrifice-the-body dive to catch a popped-up bunt and turn it into a doubleplay.

"I slipped at first," he said. "But then I thought, 'I can still get to this.' I laid out and felt the ball hit my glove, then was pretty excited it stayed in."

An inning later, Wood had runners on first and second with two away. Time for baseball's version of the ol' bait-and-switch.

Scull wheeled toward second. Brett McCrossen turned his back while returning to the bag. Multiple Friars yelled, "Ball!" McCrossen broke for third, thinking there'd been an errant pickoff throw. Still holding the ball, Scull ran toward McCrossen and tagged him out.

Near the dugout, Matt Dolan, who will be today's starting pitcher, crowed, "If we don't win this game after that . . . "

Said Scull, an Aston resident: "A couple games ago, I forgot what we were doing and I did chuck it into the outfield. This time I told myself, 'Don't throw the ball.' Another time we did it and I threw the ball into the ground [while trying to execute a fake]. First time it worked. Good timing."

This wasn't: As Scull's hit tied the game, on a close play at the plate, reliever Larry Brittingham was ejected by plate ump Bill "Babs" Haines for using inappropriate language. At least Rosenbaum had been warming up at the time. Two batters later, with two outs and the bases loaded, Dan Dougherty was ordered to bunt. The ball barely left the plate area and catcher John Santospago was able to tag out Joe Haley.

Joe Monaghan (groundout), Rosenbaum (single) and Villanova signee Jeff Courter (two-run double) posted Wood's RBI. Temple-bound Kyle McCrossen, Brett's brother, went 3-for-6 with two doubles.

Scull, who mostly DHs when not pitching, had not stepped on the mound for exactly 2 weeks.

Which task does he like the best, hitting or pitching?

"Hmm, that's a good one," Ronnie Scull said. "I like both. Haven't made my mind up yet."

In the other semifinal:

* Neumann-Goretti 18, La Salle 13: At Widener, La Salle scored the first 11 runs in the initial two innings and N-G, the home team, scored the last 15 in its final two at-bats. The Saints were one out away from being 10-runned, at 13-3, in the fifth when freshman Josh Ockimey crunched a two-run homer. In the 11-run sixth, Ockimey hammered a three-run triple, thus becoming the first player in city-leagues playoff history to post as many as five RBI in consecutive games. Earlier in that rally, winning reliever Joe Gorman (double) and Jimmy Kerrigan (homer) walloped hits worth two RBI apiece. For La Salle, Ryan Otis and starting pitcher Nick Burns halved six hits, P.J. Acierno had three RBI and Corey Baiada slammed a homer.