They've been talking about it for the better part of a year, the coach and the speedy shortstop kicking around the idea of executing the most daring play in baseball: a steal of home.

"Half-joking, half-serious," Paul VI coach Brett Young said of his conversations with senior John Urbach, the team's leadoff hitter.

Standing on third base in the third inning of Paul VI's nonleague game Thursday with host Audubon, Urbach told his coach he had the sport's ultimate crime in mind.

"I said, 'Coach, I got it,'" Urbach said after Paul VI's 11-1 victory. "I did it last year in a scrimmage. I never did it in a game."

Young nodded, a green light.

Urbach raced home, nearly beating the pitch, sliding across the plate and racing into the dugout beneath a shower of high fives and back slaps from his teammates.

"It was one of the coolest things I've seen," Paul VI pitcher Will Gambino said. "I don't think I've ever seen that in a high school game."

Urbach's derring-do, Gambino's powerful pitching and some big hits from Jake Herner, Eric DiDomenico, and Ryan Maylie added up to an imposing victory for Paul VI (2-0).

Gambino, a senior righthander and University of Kentucky recruit, worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and one run.

Displaying a live fastball and sharp slider, Gambino struck out seven in his first outing of the season.

Paul VI senior righthander Will Gambino had seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings vs. Audubon.
Tom Gralish/Staff photographer
Paul VI senior righthander Will Gambino had seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings vs. Audubon.

"I felt great," Gambino said. "It was great to get started after all the bad weather in the scrimmages, rain delays."

Maylie, the Eagles' senior catcher, said Gambino was in complete command after walking two and allowing an opposite-field single before escaping trouble in the first inning.

"Lot of movement on his fastball," Maylie said.

Junior shortstop Ryan Coyle delivered an RBI double for Audubon (2-1).

Audubon coach Rich Horan said his young team will benefit from facing a top pitcher such as Gambino.

"I thought our kids battled, got deep into his pitch count," Horan said. "I wanted them to face a good pitcher like that. Only good things can come from that."

DiDomenico and Herner each drove in three runs, while freshman Ryan Ramsey delivered a two-run single to cap a six-run rally in the third.

Maylie cracked a two-run homer in the fifth, driving a fastball over the fence with the 320-foot sign in right field.

"I didn't think it was going to be high enough," Maylie said.

The Eagles rapped two triples and two doubles along with Maylie's homer.

But their most exciting play was a bold theft of home plate with the bases loaded and one out in a 1-0 game.

"That's leadership," Young said of Urbach's iniative. "Telling me, 'Coach, I got it.' A play like that creates a lot of excitement and we rode that."

Urbach reached base twice on a walk and hit by pitch. He scored two runs and stole two bases.

But he said he felt like he delivered the game's biggest hit when he slid home in the third inning.

"Crossing home, I felt like I hit a home run," Urbach said.

Paul VI 006 023 – 11 6 2

Audubon 000 010 – 1 3 0

WP: Will Gambino. LP: Tom Digneo.

2B: PVI-Jake Herner, Will Gambino; A-Ryan Coyle.

3B: PVI-John Napolitano, Eric DiDomenico.

HR: PVI-Ryan Maylie.