Neumann-Goretti falls one win short of state baseball finals

Posted: June 12, 2012

Neumann-Goretti baseball coach Mike Zolk, after an emotional final meeting with his players, took an agonizing stroll into an empty outfield.

Zolk, like his players, was trying to come to grips with three controversial calls, including two in the last half-inning, of Monday's PIAA Class AAA state semifinal against Lampeter-Strasburg.

The would-be tying run was wiped away, and the Saints, leaving Spring-Ford High's Ram Stadium angry and heartbroken, were ousted by the Pioneers, 2-1.

"I can't wait to see a video of this game," Zolk said. "The way it ended there, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth."

In the seventh inning, the home-plate umpire took away Mario DiFebbo's run-scoring bunt down the first-base line, ruling that the ball had struck DiFebbo in the batter's box and, as a result, play was dead. Jimmy Kerrigan was forced to return to third base.

"He bunted the ball out in front of the plate," Neumann-Goretti senior catcher Nicky Nardini said. "It went 30 feet down the line. If it hit his foot, the ball would have died right there."

On DeFebbo's second bunt attempt, also toward the right side, Joey Glennon, who was trying to advance from first to second base, was called for interfering with Pioneers second baseman John Jabour.

However, because the umpires ruled that Jabour was not involved in the play (and the pitcher and first baseman were in position to make a play on the ball), DiFebbo was awarded first base and Glennon stayed at second. But Kerrigan again had to stay at third.

With one out and the bases jammed, southpaw Peter Darrenkamp fanned Anthony Adams on four pitches and, on an 0-2 pitch, drew a hard-hit grounder to third from Nicky Nardini. Neatly fielding the ball on one hop, Colton Stoltzfus stepped on the bag for the final out.

Lampeter-Strasburg (23-6) will take on fellow District 3 member West York at 6 p.m. Friday at Penn State's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Zolk and company also had a legitimate beef with a third-inning ruling. On a well-placed bunt toward the right side, Adams was called out on baserunner's interference. With the throwing error involved, DiFebbo (hit by pitch) would have been on third and Adams at second - and nobody out.

"A loss is a loss," said Nardini, a four-year starter. "It's a bitter taste, but I don't blame any umpire. You win and lose as a team."

Darrenkamp, thriving with location and not speed, had a no-hitter going through six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Said Nardini: "He threw a lot of strikes, stayed in the zone. He came right at our hitters. But we didn't really bring the sticks."

Senior lefthander Joey Gorman held the Pioneers to one run (Dan Neff's 335-foot home run in the third) in the first six frames.

As they did in 2009, the Saints (22-5) fell a victory short of reaching the state final.

"I couldn't have asked for any more from the kids this season," Zolk said.

Lamp.-Strasburg    001 000 1 - 2 8 0

Neumann-Goretti    000 000 0 - 0 1 1

WP: Peter Darrenkamp. LP: Joey Gorman. 2B: LS-Nate Shank; NG-Jimmy Kerrigan. HR: LS-Dan Neff.


Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

 

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