As for Thursday . . .
After a pair of 57-minute delays because of rain and then lightning followed by more rain, N-G's quarterfinal vs. Blue Mountain, played at Muhlenberg High, was halted in the bottom of the fourth inning with the score tied at 2-2. The teams returned to the same site Friday and the fellow stepping into the box, with one away and the bases loaded to begin the resumption, was Venafro.
Ping! Venafro lofted a sacrifice fly to center. Mario DiFebbo dashed home and N-G had the only run it would need, though the final score wound up being 9-2.
How cool is that? Not only do you play in a game that surrounds your graduation, you drive in the winning run.
Wait. There's more.
In the third inning Thursday, Venafro had collected an RBI with a groundout. And in the fifth inning, he bagged another on a fielder's choice as the baserunner, catcher Nicky Nardini, zoomed all the way around from second with nary a thought of stopping.
No hits. Three RBI. Gotta love that.
"As long as you get the runs in, you don't really care how it happens," Venafro said, smiling. "Put it in play. Hope for the best."
N-G's commencement was held at 9 o'clock. Venafro said everyone then hustled back to the school in South Philly, and piled onto the team bus a shade before 12:30.
So, how was graduation?
"It was nice," said Venafro, who had a seat on the stage because of his prowess in kinesiology. "But the whole time, I couldn't stop thinking about this game.
"It was the same thing all [Thursday] night. What pitch should I look for? [The count was 0-1]. Will I be able to handle it? I just kept thinking about how great of a situation we were in, and that I had to do my job."
That he did was nothing new.
Venafro boasts 100-plus career hits and has often been silky smooth at short. Fittingly, in the seventh inning, he recorded the second out with a strong throw from deep in the hole.
"That's my favorite play, the backhand," he said.
Over time, whether the story concerning this game will stand up as Venafro's favorite probably will find itself being tested. His very first high school tale is also quite cool.
The Saints opened the 2009 season with a game at Archbishop Carroll. Marty said he went 1-for-2 and got his hit on a liner to center.
"For the last half-inning, it was snowing," he remembered.
Since then, Venafro and Nardini (the designated hitter as a freshman), have become only the second and third players in Catholic League history to start for three champions ('09, '11, '12). Rightfielder Frank Ryan, of long-defunct St. James, did so in a three-season span (1961-63).
"There was really no one else to play shortstop," Venafro said. "I just kind of got put into the spot. The guys joked around with me [as the young pup], but they also taught me everything I needed to know. Al Baur ['10 grad] was especially helpful.
"I can remember lots of things from my time here. The championships, they're what stand out the most."
N-G scored six runs in that fourth inning. Sophomore first baseman Josh Ockimey followed Venafro's sac fly with a three-run homer to center that traveled about 380 feet. Jimmy Kerrigan added a double, Joe Kinee was plunked and those guys wound up scoring on errors.
Junior righthander John LaMotta very much appreciated the outburst's timing because it made him the winning pitcher; he'd hurled the first four Thursday (both runs were unearned). Joe Jaep, a senior righty, fanned four in three uneventful frames to post a save.
The semifinal, vs. Lampeter-Strasburg, will be played Monday, 3 p.m., at Spring-Ford High, in Royersford.
Venafro, who lives on Jackson near 19th, is bound for Chestnut Hill College. He'll enter undeclared, but perhaps opt for kinesiology over time.
Meanwhile, N-G assistant Joe Messina said coaches around the CL, speaking of Venafro, have come to ask repeatedly, "When is that kid going to graduate?!"
He just did. And he's still out there playing.
Another good story.
Contact Ted Silary at email@example.com. High school sports online at www.philly.com/rally