Even before the Eagles had thrown their first pitch this season, newspapers around the city were talking of Washington's "drive for five" and saying that the biggest question about the Public League race was who would finish second to the Eagles. But all along, O'Hara said he believed that Roxborough was the team to beat.
"I knew who they had coming back," he said, "and if somebody had asked me to make a pick (in the beginning of the season), I'd have picked Roxborough."
Today at 2:30 p.m., the Indians (15-3) will go for the title in a game at Frankford. Roxborough will face Northeast (15-1), which won the last championship before the Eagles (12-7) started their reign in 1985.
O'Hara made a succinct assessment of what made the difference for Roxborough on Monday. "Their hitting," he said.
The Indians collected 12 hits, including 3 doubles, while the Eagles had 8 hits, only one for extra bases. Until the seventh, though, Roxborough had just 8 hits, and the Indians had squandered as many opportunities as they had created.
The sixth inning was particularly frustrating for Roxborough. The Indians scored a run to tie the game, 4-4, but they had started the inning with men on first and third with nobody out, and they ended it with the bases loaded.
Washington immediately regained the lead in the bottom of the inning. Errors on 2 consecutive sacrifice-bunt attempts scored Greg Carlisle, who led off with an infield single.
But now it was Washington's turn to waste baserunners. With Brent Cromwell at third and Richie Johns at second, the Eagles produced 2 straight strikeouts. The inning ended when Cromwell tried to go home as Indians catcher Joe Turvey threw to first after a dropped third strike. The throw from first baseman Eric Kay beat him there, and Turvey tagged him out.
"We were just hoping they would have one moment of hesitation or make one little miscue, and we'd be in there," O'Hara said. "But they didn't
Nevertheless, Roxborough's chances seemed bleak in the seventh. Dave Brotherton singled to lead off the inning, but Washington starter Joe Verello got the next two batters on strikeouts.
In the midst of the whiffings, though, Brotherton advanced to second on a balk, and then all of a sudden, there was no stopping Roxborough.
Jerry Smith tied the game with an RBI single up the middle, and Mike Miller kept the inning going with a bloop single. That brought up George Shepherdson, who came through with a line drive to deep center for a double that sent Miller and Smith home and ultimately put the Indians into the final.
In their half of the seventh, the Eagles got a one-out single from Jim Wark (2 for 4) and then a ground-rule double from Chris Curry. But Kay, who had relieved Brotherton at the start of the inning, proceeded to pick up his second strikeout, followed by a hard grounder to second that ended the game.
Until the seventh, Washington had not trailed. The Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the first, when Verello (2 for 4) and Wark delivered one-out singles. A balk scored Verello, and after Curry and Greg Carlisle walked, Cromwell singled home 2 runs.
Roxborough scored twice in the second, but the Eagles added a run in the bottom of the inning on Chris Reid's walk, a sacrifice by Ray Barnhart and a Verello single that was misplayed by the leftfielder.
Verello threw a complete game for Washington, striking out 7.