Two Catholic League teams remain alive for a state championship.
Saturday at noon, La Salle High School will face Springfield-Delco for the PIAA state lacrosse title at West Chester University. On Monday at Allentown’s Parkland High School, Neumann-Goretti’s baseball team will meet District 11 champion North Schuylkill in the PIAA Class AA semifinals. A win there would send the Saints to the state championship on June 16 at Penn State University.
“It’s great to still be playing,” said Neumann-Goretti sophomore R.J. McGettigan. “All of us love this game so much and it’s a privilege to still be playing.”
McGettigan’s words probably sound obvious, but when considering the bumps, bruises and sprains on the teenage athletes who have played non-stop for close to three months straight, a complaint about fatigue would be understandable.
Good luck finding one.
As La Salle prepares for the lacrosse championship, the Explorers’ only focus is playing hard and playing smart. The body massages and bandages can wait.
In Tuesday’s 10-2, semifinal victory over Manheim Township at Exeter High School, the Catholic League champion Explorers fell behind, 2-0, less than two minutes into the first quarter. Undaunted, La Salle senior Cody Mazurek cut the deficit in half.
Then came the second quarter, and La Salle took over.
A four-goal blitz gave the Explorers a 5-2 lead. Two goals in the third and three more in the fourth sealed the deal.
“It took us a little while to settle in,” said La Salle coach Bill Leahy.
For Catholic League champion Neumann-Goretti, seven brilliant innings by senior pitcher Ethan Pritchett and two more by junior Jared Healey kept yesterday’s game against North Penn-Mansfield scoreless until the bottom of the ninth.
Sophomore Joe LaFiora drew a lead-off walk and was replaced at first by junior Steve Pizza. An error moved Pizza to second. Pritchett then advanced Pizza to third with a bunt single. Up stepped senior Brian Verrati, and his line drive to left field plated Pizza with the winning tally.
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams,” said Pritchett, who notched 10 strikeouts. “I love playing with my guys because they never quit. This is an exciting season and I’m looking forward to going to war again on Monday.”
Fatigue? For Catholic League athlete competing for a state title?
How Catholic League baseball teams have fared in the PIAA tournament so far:
District 12 Playoffs
At La Salle High
Neumann-Goretti 6, MaST Charter 0: As in 2015, MaST, inside the city limits but not a Public League member, was forced by the PIAA to participate in the D-12 playoffs. Ethan Pritchett fanned seven in six innings while R.J. McGettigan (triple), Nicky D’Amore and Colin Eiser (double) contributed two hits apiece. McGettigan and D’Amore had one RBI apiece.
State Playoffs, First Round
June 6 at Neumann University
Council Rock North 2, Father Judge 1: Staff ace Dan Hammer gave himself a 1-0 lead with a run-scoring single in the visiting fourth, but was victimized for two unearned runs (fourth, sixth). Judge left two runners on base in the seventh.
At La Salle High
Susquehanna Twp. 6, Archbishop Wood 5: Powered by Sean Kelly’s two-run double, Wood exploded for four runs in the first inning. Over time, Susquehanna scored six runs despite bagging just two hits. It also milked 10 walks.
At Washington High School
Neumann-Goretti 5, Lancaster Catholic 1: A three-run double by R.J. McGettigan provided major support for Jeff Ciocco, who scattered seven hits and recorded six strikeouts. Jared Healey and Lou Testa added RBI singles — the Saints scored all five runs in a bat-around third — and Brian Verratti made a fifth-inning catch in center to prevent what might have been a three-run homer.
State Playoffs, Quarterfinal
June 9 at Pottsville Area High School
Neumann-Goretti 1, North Penn-Mansfield 0 (9 innings): Ethan Pritchett (seven innings, 10 strikeouts) and Jared Healey (two innings, two Ks) divided the pitching. In the home ninth, Joe LaFiora led off with a single and yielded to pinch-runner Steve Pizza. He advanced to second as R.J. McGettigan’s bunt was misplayed and to third on Pritchett’s bunt single. Brian Verratti then created a wild celebration by scorching a liner over the third baseman’s head for a game-ending single.
John Knebels can be reached at email@example.com.