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(Feature Photo Courtesy of Andrew Miller)

St. Joe’s and St. Francis both got some hits in Monday’s Georgetown Cup opener at Coca-Cola Field.

The Red Raiders made theirs count.

Third-seeded St. Francis got the timely hits and posted a 3-1 win over the Marauders to take the early edge in the best-of-three series to decide the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association championship.

And that’s basically been the St. Francis season in a nutshell: get the job done when it matters the most. After a so-so start to the season, the Red Raiders have picked a fine time to catch fire and now they’re a win away from a championship.

“Pedal to the metal,” St. Francis catcher Justin Kirst said. “We just have to stay with it. Keep the energy up, that’s our biggest thing. It’s all about timing, getting hot in the right time here in the playoffs and that’s shining through.”

Both starters – Michael Hartman (St. Francis) and Will Carlone (St. Joe’s) – were dominant early on and St. Joe’s held a 1-0 lead entering the fourth inning. And that’s when the Red Raiders come up clutch. Matthew Devine crushed an RBI double to the left-centerfield wall to tie the game and then Kirst put his team ahead to stay with a sacrifice fly to right.

Cole O’Connor added an insurance run in the top of the sixth when he crossed the plate after a St. Joe’s throwing error.

“We came in pretty hot with the bats from Canisius,” Kirst said, referring to the semifinals against the Crusaders that saw the Red Raiders score 27 runs in the three-game series. “We didn’t hit as well as we did against Canisius (in the semifinals) but overall, everyone that we expect to come through, came through.

 

“Joe’s had more hits than us (8-6) but it’s about timely hitting. When you have runners in scoring position, it’s all about getting those RBIs.”

The rest was up to the pitching staff and St. Francis had a pair of aces on display on Monday. Hartman pitched 4 1//3 strong, allowing just one run and scattering eight hits for the win. Taylor Vogel entered in a fifth-inning jam, with Marauders on first and third and one out. But he escaped that inning and finished off the game for St. Francis, allowing just one base runner – a harmless two-out walk in the seventh.

“It felt pretty good to come in and help my team,” Vogel said. “I came in and held them down as best I could.”

Alex Zulia went 3-for-4 for the top-seeded and defending champion Marauders and scored the lone St. Joe’s run on a base hit to left by Carlone in the fourth.

Game 2 is back at Coca-Cola Field today. Game 3 is on Wednesday, in necessary.