"Tomko's a knuckleballer," Skiles said. "He throws a straight pitch and a curveball, but the knuckleball is his big pitch. I told the kids he's not a Phil Niekro. But then, I don't think many of them knew who Phil Niekro was either."
Skiles figures that when Johnson's on the mound, his team can beat anybody. But you need more than one arm in the playoffs. That's why Skiles wouldn't mind playing another team before Saturday, when his club will face Archbishop Kennedy in the tournament's first round. The game will begin at 11 a.m., although the site is undetermined.
"I'm making an announcement that we'd be willing to play anybody this week," Skiles said. "We're not even close to exceeding the number of games we're allowed to play because of all the lousy weather this spring."
Kennett's last appearance in the district playoffs was five years ago, when the Blue Demoms lost to Springfield (Montco) in the title game, 7-6.
This is the seventh straight appearance for Shanahan in the postseason, although last season's championship was the Eagles' first district title. Shanahan blew out Garnet Valley, 15-5, in the title game before winning its first-ever state playoff game, over Elk Lake, 17-7. The Eagles lost their next contest and were eliminated.
The Eagles will also play Saturday, but the site will depend on who wins Thursday's game between Bristol and Springfield (Montco).
Like Skiles, Shanahan coach George Hadfield is looking forward to today's finale.
"We're going to try to win; there's no need to hold back," Hadfield said. ''Our pitchers can still come back rested for the playoffs.
"Really, this is the best time of the year. It's just the varsity players now, with a couple of kids we've brought up (from the junior varsity). We've been getting real good workouts. It's just a nice togetherness right now."
INDIANS IN AAA
Unionville is the only Class AAA school in the SCCL, and the Indians will open play in the district's AAA tourney at 3:30 today at Upper Perkiomen.
Unionville (8-7 overall) is the 19th seed in the 20-team field, and it finished its league season on a down note Wednesday by losing to Oxford, 7-1. Upper Perk finished in a tie with Spring-Ford for second place in the powerful Pioneer Athletic Conference, both at 13-5. Upper Perk was awarded second place on a coin flip.
Oxford (9-7, 6-6) got a glimpse of the future with sophomore Glen Juisti pitching a strong game Wednesday, allowing just two hits through five innings. Fellow sophomore Cliff Quillen picked up the save.
Octorara finished 5-7 in the league with a 12-2 decision over Avon Grove Wednesday. The Braves and Garnet Valley completed their league seasons with 4-8 marks.