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 history, has 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 “Cardinal and Gold” 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 had 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 as a “round tripper.”
The Cardinals shut down O’Connell in the bottom of the seventh, in large measure 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 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.