St. Francis' Johnny Kontak is out trying to get back to first after a line drive to short. Clay's Corey Trout completes the play.
Thirty-three years after it began, the coaching career of St. Francis de Sales baseball coach Don Kober will include just one more game. His Knights earned that bonus game by shaking off Friday night's 10-inning, 4-2 loss to Clay in the Division I district final and taking a 2-1 victory over those same Eagles in last night's City League semifinal at Skeldon Stadium.
St. Francis (22-6) attempts to repeat its City championship at 7:30 tonight in the title game against Start at Skeldon. The Spartans (21-5) advanced by beating St. John's Jesuit 8-5 in last night's second semifinal.
"It's just time," Kober said. "I have a lot of fun doing it and the kids are great. But it's time. I've gone through a couple life-change things, I'm not as good a coach as I used to be, and it's time to turn it over to Tim [longtime assistant Gerken].
"We've been on a little bit of a roller coaster a couple times this year. We've lost a couple games late that we had won, and we've bounced back. We're pretty resilient. I just hope we've got one more in us."
Kober (658-251) has led the Knights to 10 league titles and two state semifinal trips.
Last night, St. Francis gave starting pitcher Alex Majewski all the support he would need with two runs in the second inning.
With one out, Clay junior starter Casey Winckowski hit Knight Brett Howard with a pitch, then walked Brian Martin.
After Jordan Knowles reached on a fielder's choice, DH Alex Radon followed with an RBI single to left. Clay Daney then plated Knowles with a double to left.
The Eagles scored their run in the fifth when Ross Knierim singled to center, moved to third on a throwing error by Knights shortstop Brian Bilius, and came home on Patrick Martin's groundout.
That error was the Knights' fourth of the game, but the three-hit pitching of Majewski offset these fielding woes. Knight reliever Drew Bruecken worked the final 11/3 innings, retiring all four batters he faced to earn a save.
"It feels really good because this could have been coach's last game," Majewski said. "Now we've got a chance to repeat.
"We really look up to coach Kober. He's our mentor. We wanted to do it for him. That was our motivation."
Majewski was the winning pitcher in both of the Knights' CL playoff victories last year.
"Majewski threw a real good game," Clay coach Karl Knierim said. "Our pitcher, Casey Winckowski, threw well also. But we needed a couple hits here and there and we just couldn't get 'em."
Winckowski yielded five hits in his six innings. The Eagles (19-6) will play Friday at 2 p.m. in a D-I regional semifinal against Strongsville (22-6) at Shelby.
In the second semifinal, Start junior standout Jason "Boomer" Moulton pitched and hit the Spartans to victory, avenging his only mound defeat of the season - by a 2-1 count here in a D-I sectional final.
Moulton (8-1) was 3-for-3 at the plate with a two-run triple, a double and two RBIs to lead Start's 10-hit attack. The right-hander threw a five-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Start grabbed a 4-0 lead in the first inning, getting three unearned runs off St. John's Tim Corbey. Mike Szmania singled in two of those runs.
After the Titans (16-10) rallied to tie the game - keyed by a two-run double from Ben Kauder - Moulton blanked them over the next four innings.
"I just tried to put that inning behind me," Moulton said of the second. "I just tried to throw strikes and let my defense eat it up.
"I was seeing the ball real good. [Corbey] just hung one [on fourth-inning triple]."
Val Helldobler doubled Mike Wilson home with two outs in the seventh before Moulton got the final out. Ricardo Lizcano and Tyler Zaborowski added two hits apiece for Start.
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