John Knebels

The ideal scenario in sports is when a league championship comes down to the final two teams competing for gold.

Welcome to the ideal scenario in Catholic League baseball.

After La Salle dispatched Father Judge, 11-4, and Archbishop Carroll doubled-up Cardinal O’Hara, 10-5, on May 23, it set the stage for Saturday afternoon’s 10 a.m. Catholic League championship battle between the Explorers and Patriots at Immaculata University.

The Explorers captured the regular-season title with an 11-1 record, one win more than the Patriots’ 10-2. However, La Salle’s only defeat came at the hands of Carroll on April 30, when the Pats scored five runs in the home sixth and held on for a 5-4 victory.

The All-Catholic team included six from La Salle (four on first team, one on both second and third) and five from Carroll (one on first team, three on second, one on third).

Various players were asked to assess their approach to the Catholic League final.

La Salle senior Anthony Cossetti, first-team All-Catholic outfielder:

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any nerves going into this game. But that’s what comes with huge games like this. I have faith in what Joe Miller can do as a pitcher and what we can do as a lineup. When you score 11 runs like we did against Father Judge, we’re going to be hard to beat. We just need to take quality at bats and do some damage early on. As for Judge, Gavin Moretski threw a great game and our bats livened up after a quiet game against Prep. We did what the 2018 La Salle baseball team is supposed to do, and I couldn’t be anymore excited for tomorrow. It’s going to be a good game.”

La Salle senior Andrew Cossetti, first-team All-Catholic catcher and Offensive Player of the Year: 

“I’m excited for the team as we head into our first championship game for La Salle in four years. It won’t be easy though. We’re facing the only team that beat us in the league. It’s going to be a pitching duel between our ace and their ace and the game might come down to an error. We need to trust the work we’ve put in leading up to this game and let everything happen. No need to press. In the semifinal we had great outings from Gavin Moretski and Hunter McGarvey, with (senior) Shane Manieri and (senior) Jack Ruch adding four RBI apiece. When our offense and pitching combine for a game like that, were tough to beat. However, that doesn’t always happen, and in the playoffs you need to find any way possible to win.”

Archbishop Carroll senior Jake Kelchner, first-team All-Catholic, Pitcher of the Year, and starting pitcher in the championship:

“It’s just another game keeping the same routine, same mentality we have had all year. It was a great (semifinal) win, very exciting. Just wanted to put up a lot of runs and that’s exactly what we did. Our pitchers did a great job. It was huge for them to step up and keep me off the mound that game so I can rest up for Saturday.”

Archbishop Carroll senior Cole Chesnet, second-team All-Catholic catcher:

“We’re playing our best baseball at the right time of the year. Our regular season game was a battle with these guys, so that’s what we have to expect. In the semifinals we played well. We played loose. This team loves playing together. Chemistry is huge, and we love each other.”

Archbishop Carroll junior Tyler Kehoe, second-team All-Catholic pitcher:

“This championship game is definitely going to be one to remember. It’s the two best teams and it’s going to be another great high school baseball game that is most likely going to come down to the wire. In the end we’re going to come out on top. We’ve worked too hard just to get this far and not finish our business. We handled the semifinals as we should have. We were composed and had no worries in our dugout. It’s the Catholic league playoffs. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but once we settled in and got rolling, there was no looking back.”

La Salle senior Joe Miller, first-team All-Catholic pitcher and starting pitcher in the championship:

“Playing Carroll is awesome. We know we’re gonna get a good game just like before and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Both teams are super-talented and that should be a really fun game. And the semis was another great offensive performance backed by great pitching. It showed that we got our bad hitting performance out of the way against Prep (2-1 quarterfinal win) and the bats came alive. It was great to score in the first inning and we never really looked back. Being able to handle the game that well gives us a lot of momentum going into Saturday as well.”

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John Knebels can be reached at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.