As a four-year varsity member, Kyle Rogalski is enjoying Roman Catholic's considerable turnaround and surprising run in the Catholic League playoffs as much as anyone.
"It's really hard to describe, actually," the senior hurler said after Tuesday's 8-4 upset of Red Division rival La Salle. "You're almost speechless. It's overwhelming to be here and in this position."
Roman, which last season went 2-17 overall and placed last in the Red Division, will take on Cardinal O'Hara in a winner's bracket semifinal at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at Immaculata University.
"The guys are pretty focused," Cahillites coach Anthony Valucci said. "All year long, we've had the mantra of playing together and for each other. We have more that we want to accomplish."
Rogalski, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior righthander, has been key in Roman's bid for its first Catholic League title since 1992. He is 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 51 innings.
"He's a gamer," Valucci said. "The bigger the game, the better he is. He throws from different arm angles, which keeps hitters off balance."
Rogalski, who will continue his career at Misericordia, mixes a fastball clocked in the mid-80-m.p.h. range, a curveball, and a change-up. With a sidearm delivery, he throws a two-seam fastball and slider.
"I'm pretty effective when I can locate my pitches," the 18-year-old said. "At times, I can also bump up my fastball and throw it by people."
Rogalski watched as fellow senior righthander Joe Mangano went the distance against La Salle. "Joe is a methodical pitcher," Rogalski said. "He's not the hardest thrower around, but he's always locked in."
In Roman's playoff opener, a 6-5, nine-inning win over Archbishop Wood, Rogalski, who earned second-team all-Catholic honors, yielded three hits and no earned runs in seven innings.
Offensively, the Cahillites (10-10) have been led by junior third baseman Connor McKenna, senior shortstop Joe Myers, senior rightfielder Matt De Treux, senior centerfielder Conor Smith, and senior designated hitter Mike Opiela.
Rogalski, who lives in Roxborough and played American Legion ball for the Ivy Ridge Panthers, will study nursing at Misericordia. His mother, Nicole, is a nurse at Temple University Hospital.
"I took an anatomy class at Roman, and that really sparked my interest," he said. "And I'm the type of person who likes to help other people."
Extra bases. Tyler Stampone will step down as Germantown Academy's coach at the end of the season. The former Patriots standout is enrolling in Villanova's School of Law. . . . Devon Prep's Zach Schellenger, a senior righthander and Seton Hall recruit, has been sidelined with a strained flexor muscle. He has been rehabbing the injury and doing light throwing on the side. . . . Friends' Central senior rightfielder Hayden Gruber, who is headed to Tufts, is batting .433 with 27 runs and 20 RBIs.
Devon Prep junior catcher Dominic Hardaway has committed to play at Boston College. He is hitting .417 with 19 runs and 18 RBIs. . . . Plymouth Whitemarsh's Mike Whalon, a senior lefthander, is 5-1 with a 0.81 ERA and 31 Ks in 431/3 innings. . . . Harriton senior outfielder Andre Pendleton is batting .425 with 15 RBIs and 12 runs. . . . Holy Ghost Prep junior righthander Luke Duris is 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 33 Ks in 252/3 innings. . . . Frankford has been paced on offense by sophomores Edgardo Bernard (.541 average), Michael Hollinger (.436), and Xavier Sanchez (.405.). . . . MaST Charter junior first baseman-pitcher Bryan Kaelin is hitting .484 with 24 RBIs and 17 runs.