Defending City League champion Central Catholic displayed resiliency and then resolve in a key midseason triumph over St. Francis de Sales Friday.
The Irish mounted a comeback and then held off the Knights in a 7-5 home win.
St. Francis took a 2-0 lead in the third, but the Irish answered with four in the bottom of the inning and never trailed again.
Central (6-9, 4-1) handed the Knights (6-2, 4-1) their first league loss.
Irish junior shortstop Kyle Burkhardt went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs batted in. His run-scoring double sparked the early rally.
"We had a meeting earlier this week and we talked about staying up when we're down," Burkhardt said. "We responded today. It's a huge win and puts us in contention for the [CL] final four."
Burkhardt, who came into the game leading the CL in hitting with a .543 average, said he's taking a new approach at the plate.
"Kyle's been swinging the bat well since day one, and he did it again today," Central coach Jeff Mielcarek said.
Senior Jason Comte got the win after pitching 51/3 innings and striking out five.
None was bigger than the one he got in the fifth with two outs. The Knights had scored twice, trailed only 5-4 and were threatening with runners at second and third. But Comte got Jeff Kiel looking.
"I knew I had to throw a strike, but I didn't want it to be too good," Comte said. "I had a lot of confidence, and it was a strike on the outside. That was the biggest inning."
The Irish responded with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth.
"I knew they'd back me up by manufacturing runs," Comte said.
Central's Cody Carr and Jeff Balogh each had a double and an RBI. Grant Bolin and Nik Tschantz also drove in a run apiece. Drew Lehman and Balogh each scored two runs.
Carr relieved Comte in the sixth and did not give up a run.
Jeremy Spalding got the save after taking over with two on and one out in the seventh. St. Francis senior D.J. McPartland lined out sharply to second in a game-ending double play.
"We rolled the dice," Mielcarek said. "The kid hit it hard. But it worked out."
St. Francis sophomore left fielder Steve Joyce had three RBIs and a double. Joyce blasted a double to right field over the fielder's head to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.
Both teams had seven hits. But Central did not strikeout once in the game, and Jeff Davis took the loss for St. Francis.
"I'm proud of our kids' effort," Mielcarek said. "It's been a tough April for us as far as our win-loss record."
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