As the fifth inning rolled around in Friday’s Georgetown Cup quarterfinal at Delaware Park, the Canisius High School baseball team found itself in a surprise dogfight with a Cardinal O’Hara team it had beaten by 19 runs in the regular season.
But apparently timely hits stick together because once the Crusaders’ bats heated up, they didn’t stop. Canisius shook off that slow start and posted a 10-0 six-inning win over the Hawks in a game that was much more competitive than the final outcome suggests.
“We just talked about staying the course,” Canisius coach Bryan Tenney said. “O’Hara fought. We played them early in the season when they were still finding their way. It was a night and day performance for them; they played tough. But we were finally just able to settle in and got some timely hits to build some momentum.”
The Crusaders held a narrow 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning and Cardinal O’Hara loaded the bases with two outs before pitcher Brian Herrmann induced an inning-ending groundout.
Then the runs started to come galore for Canisius. Sophomore call-up Thurman Thomas drove in a pair with a bases-loaded single and then came around to score on a base hit by Vinny Ventura, who then came around to score on a hit by Jack Arnold.
Daniel Tocco’s two-run single headlined the game-ending sixth-inning rally. Ventura added an RBI double, Thomas came in on a wild pitch and Jake Podlas ended it with an RBI single.
“We had that big hit by Thurman, I think that really opened it up,” Herrmann said. “That first hit really helped us out and then we kept going.”
Herrmann took care of business on the mound, going the distance for the Crusaders. The junior right-hander from Hamburg allowed just two hits and struck out 10.
“Hermann’s been real good for us,” Tenney said. “We wanted him to get off to a good start and he did. He had the right mindset and threw strikes, which is the key.”
Canisius will face the winner of today’s quarterfinal game between St. Francis and Nichols in a best-of-three semifinal that will begin Tuesday at Delaware Park. St. Joe’s plays St. Mary’s in the other semifinal series – which is also a rematch of last year’s Georgetown Cup championship series.
“The whole thing is a challenge,” Tenney said. “Pretty much every game we’ve had has been one-run either way. It’s going to be a battle and that’s the way it should be. There’s not much separation is our league.”