UPPER DUBLIN >> Coming down the stretch, all Upper Dublin head baseball coach Ed Wall could do was depend on his Cardinals team to do what they’ve seemed to do all year long.
An early three-run lead was down to one, and Wall, like the rest of the Upper Dublin faithful huddled around the Cardinals baseball field Wednesday, was hoping the team could pull one more game out.
And when Jason Greene got a fielder’s choice ground ball with two out and two on in the top of the seventh, the Cardinals had a 4-3 win and a berth in the PIAA District One Class AAAA quarterfinals. There, the third-seeded Cardinals will play host to sixth-seeded Council Rock North, a 4-3 winner Wednesday over Springfield-Delco.
“Jason is very focused on doing his job,” Wall said, after the Cardinals celebratory huddle broke up. “His job is throwing strikes, and that’s what he did.
“This is a big win for us because of where it puts us. This team just keeps finding ways to win, and now we have one more home game.”
It looked as though the Cardinals would cruise to the win, as they roughed up Harriton freshman Jack Rochanowicz for a three-spot in the second inning.
Noah Ruiz’s RBI double, Andrew McDermott’s sacrifice fly and Thomas Reilly’s run-scoring single chased home the runs.
And even after the Rams cut the lead to a single run in the top of the third with a pair of unearned runs via a run-scoring Cardinals error and Sean Miller’s RBI double, when Rochanowicz gave up a one-out run in the home third, Harriton head coach Scott Kurzinsky decided to pull his freshman standout in favor of Don DiLoreto.
“Jack is a freshman, and we have a lot of confidence in him,” Kurzinsky said. “He’s going to be a great one.
“We felt we brought Daniel in at the right time, and he did shut them down.”
Indeed, DiLoreto put the cuffs on the Cardinals, permitting just two baserunners (both on walks) the rest of the way.
Cardinals starter Cole Swiger held the Rams at bay until there were two out in the sixth. He yielded the two unearned runs in the third, but held down the Rams until the sixth when a walk and a single brought Wall out with Greene in tow.
“It was OK,” Swiger said. “I knew my pitch count was up there.
“I still felt good, but that was just the adrenaline pumping. I have confidence in our defense and the (pitchers) behind me.”
The Rams got one run back on Lorenzo Sulon’s run-scoring infield single, but just missed the opportunity to add more when McDermott made a two-out, sliding catch of a line drive off the bat of Anthony Calligaro.
DiLoreto 1-2-3’d the Cardinals in the home sixth, and the Rams immediately threatened with one out in the seventh thanks to an error and a hit batter.
But Greene got John Lautenbach on a line drive to center and induced the game-ending fielder’s choice ground ball from Will Hoffman, and the Cardinals were in the quarterfinals.
“I thought we squared up a lot of balls today,” Kurzinsky said, “but they seemed to go right at their defense.
“You hate to lose any game, but one-run losses are especially tough.”
As for the Cardinals, they were looking ahead — but not too far.
“We know you can’t overlook anybody,” Swiger said. “We’re going to see nothing but good teams. We saw a good one today. They came back hard on us.
“And we’ll see another good team on Friday.”