Saturday, June 3, 2006
By Vincent Lewis
It was a game that appeared to be in the grasp of their opponent. For most of this South Jersey Non-Public B semifinals game played in Brooklawn, the Rams from Gloucester Catholic clearly had the momentum and a five run lead over Bishop Eustace with two more innings remaining. The Rams, who were the second seed in the bracket, scored in four of the first five innings demonstrating their ability to produce runs. Third seeded Bishop Eustace's momentum slowly increased and rallied for five runs, which included Dewey Oriente's three run triple, during their last two at bats to send this game into extra innings. Relief pitcher Andrew Del Rossi continued to keep the Rams off the scoreboard giving the Crusaders a chance to win this semifinals game. Mike Plakis' solo home run during the ninth proved to be the game winner and Bishop Eustace advanced to the finals with a 13-10 win.
Gloucester Catholic struck first during their bottom half of the first inning on a single by Anthony Mergliano that scored Matt Blackburn with two outs. The Rams continued to build on their lead during the next inning when Dan Mayo’s two run double pushed their advantage to 3-0. Oriente’s run batted in double in the third gave the Crusaders their first run of the game. The Rams would come up to bat during their bottom half of the inning with their lead cut down to a single run. Sending nine batters to the plate, a four run inning highlighted by back to back doubles by Andrew Anusky and Mike Eliasen pushed Gloucester Catholic’s lead and score to 7-2.
Starting out the fourth inning, it appeared that the Crusaders were still in a very confident and patient mode. Bishop Eustace’s margin of deficit was still the same with the score at 10-5 after five full innings. The excitement in the crowd picked up when Bill Rowell stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. During Rowell’s previous three at bats, he was walked to stay away from his bat. Gloucester Catholic, at the time, appeared to stay away from a big inning by walking Rowell for the fourth consecutive time forcing in a run. The Crusaders would draw closer to their opponent but trailed by three heading into the seventh inning. And that’s when Bishop Eustace reloaded the bases with one out and Rowell the on deck batter. But it would be Oriente who smacked a three run triple that tie this game. Rowell would be intentionally walked and the Rams prevented a seventh inning victory. Two innings later, Plakis’ home run started a three run ninth and Bishop Eustace won an exciting high school baseball game.