The Bishop Ireton baseball team continues to be hot at the right time.
The Cardinals, which have seldom won a post-season baseball game in their 40-year history, have now won two consecutive WCAC contests to Punch its ticket to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Title Game.
Ireton, coached by Mike Gallagher in his first-season, defeated O’Connell (Arlington) 6-5 on the road on May 5 in the quarter-final round. One day later, on May 6, the Cardinals upended nationally ranked Paul VI (Fairfax) by a 3-2 margin in the semi-finals at Shirley Povich Park in Bethesda.
Regarding the O’Connell contest, the Cardinals received RBI doubles from Matt Welch to tie the contest at two apiece, and from Dan Nicoll to propel Ireton to a 3-2 lead, with both extra base hits in the top of the fourth inning.
After O’Connell surged ahead 5-3, Ireton batted in the top of the seventh inning with their season on the line. Frankie Zare drew a walk and Tyler Dupre, the 2007 Alexandria Sportsmans Club Baseball Player of the Year, reached first base via an O’Connell error.
One batter later, senior pitcher/first baseman Kevin O’Keefe stroked a sky high home run to right field – giving Ireton a 6-5 lead.
“I got under the ball and hit it pretty good,” said O’Keefe, in only his second career round tripper.
The Cardinals shut down O’Connell in the bottom of the seventh, courtesy of a double play turned in by Eddie Boddie, Zare and O’Keefe.
In the Paul VI contest, Ireton’s Dupre scored in the top of the fourth to stake Ireton to a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Boddie turned a key double play defensively for Ireton.
Paul VI, coached by 2007 WCAC Coach of the Year Billy Emerson, tied the game at one apiece in the bottom of the fifth and took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Ireton trailed 2-1 heading into the top of the seventh inning. The Cardinals generated their two decisive runs when Boddie drew a walk; junior John Robertson was hit by a pitch; senior Darin Gravallese laid down a near-perfect bunt – which tied the game 2-2 after a Panther throwing error on the play.
Two batters later, Ireton sophomore Tommy Kiesner drew a walk. Two more batters later, with two outs, Ireton second baseman Zare hit a hard ground ball single to right field which scored one run and gave the Cardinals their narrow 3-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, PVI sent four batters to the plate, but could not generate a run.
Upstart Ireton improved to 13-12 overall on the season and weather-permitting, will lock horns with perennial powerhouse DeMatha (16-10 overall) May 8 at Shirley Povich (Bethesda) for the ’08 Title.
Thomas Jefferson Girls Lacrosse
The Thomas Jefferson Girls Lacrosse Team witnessed its season end in heart-breaking fashion, and in the process will not proceed to the Northern Region Playoffs.
Jefferson, which is fourth-seeded in the Liberty District, dropped a painstaking 13-12 decision to fifth-seeded Madison, in the opening round of the Liberty District Playoffs, on a splendid night in West Alexandria on May 5.
The Lady Colonials, coached by Victor Chen in his third season, led 6-5 at halftime and also led 12-11 late in the contest, with merely 3:09 remaining to be played.
In the final two-minute stretch, when the scoreboard clock was stationary, Madison scored two late goals to prevail 13-12.
“Give Madison credit,” said Coach Chen. “Their coach Amanda Counts had them well prepared and they had a good game plan. It kind of hurts not being able to get the girls to the Regionals this season.”
In 2006 and 2007, Chen led the Colonials to the Regionals. The Jefferson attack was spearheaded by: Katie Hempenius (five goals), Amelia Gonzalez (three), Ana Vucelic (two) and Jessie Shelton and Katie Sourbeer (one apiece).
The Lady Colonials conclude their season with an overall record of 10-5 (4-3 Liberty regular season games).
“I’ve never been around a closer knit group of girls than the players that we have on this team,” said Anderson, a senior. “We went out fighting tonight. Coach Chen has really turned this program around in the three years that he has been here.”