After suffering a second-round loss to Cardinal O'Hara and being placed in the loser's bracket of the Catholic League baseball 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 mound 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, Neumann-Goretti 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. Because 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 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 in the tournament en route to reaching the finals, Doudican pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts. A Virginia Tech assistant coach watched him from behind the plate.
The hard-throwing lefthander struck out five in the first two innings.
"My arm felt great in warm-ups," Doudican said. "It felt better than it had all year."
Doudican delivered a two-run double to right field in a four-run third inning. In the fourth, when the Saints (19-4) improved 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 field.
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."
Chipping in for Neumann-Goretti, 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 recruit, 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.