It took four days, but it was well worth the wait for St. Francis de Sales, which came up with clutch, two-out hits late in a Division I district semifinal yesterday to get past Northview.
The Knights scored three runs with two outs in the final two innings to overtake Northview 6-5 yesterday at Ned Skeldon Stadium. The game had been delayed three straight nights due to the recent, near constant rainfall and was suspended Wednesday in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Wildcats leading 4-3.
But when the game resumed last night, St. Francis scored twice in the sixth to take a 5-4 advantage. Northview tied it with a two-out hit of its own.
St. Francis senior outfielder Clay Daney then came through with the game-winning hit with two down in the bottom of the seventh.
"Coming up in that situation is always something you want," said Daney, who went 3-for-4 with a double. "As a senior it's great to come out and make something happen. We've faced tough situations all season. But we've always been able to battle. We're definitely warriors."
St. Francis advances to take on Clay at 5 tonight at Skeldon Stadium in the district final. The Eagles defeated St. John's Jesuit 6-5 in the second semifinal. Clay advances to the district final for the first time since 1999, when it lost to St. Francis. It was the last time the Knights won a district.
St. Francis senior Johnny Kontak came up with a clutch RBI single with his team trailing by a run with two outs in the sixth to knot it at 4. Alex Neuman then relieved Northview starter Josh Dilallo with the bases loaded and walked in the go-ahead run.
"We're the No. 1 seed and we've been challenging them to play like it," St. Francis coach Don Kober said.
But Northview, trailing 5-4 in its last at-bat, rallied with two outs in the seventh. Dilallo singled into short right to plate Zach Strauss with the tying run.
Down 3-0 in the fifth inning on Wednesday, Northview also rallied to take a 4-3 lead.
Daney scored the first run of the game and then doubled to the left-center gap to score Jordan Knowles. Kontak then drove in Daney with a single to make it 3-0.
In the second game, Clay scored in each of the first four innings to build a 5-1 lead. But St. John's plated four in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Eagle senior Aaron Roberts smacked a sacrifice fly into center field that scored Casey Winckowski with the winning run.
Clay junior pitcher A.J. Achter had been cruising through five innings giving up just three hits and one run along with five strikeouts. But the Titans put up four in the sixth, led by pinch hitter Justin Leahy's two-run single.
"We have so much drive we think we can do anything," said Achter, who also went 3-for-3 with a triple, an RBI and a run. "We never get down. My teammates were able to come back for me."
Brent Graham, Derek Spencer, Winckowski and Cory Trout all drove in runs for Clay (17-5). Junior Patrick Martin did not give up a hit in 12/3 innings of relief to get the win.
"It was a good ball game," said Clay coach Karl Knierim. "St. John's is very solid. We jumped out early and A.J. was cruising along. We were getting opportune hits. But in the game of baseball things can change in a hurry."
Val Helldobler, Jake Capelletty, Dan Kujawa and Leahy all had RBIs for the Titans, who scored four runs on three hits in the sixth inning.
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