BROOKLAWN – For a program like Gloucester Catholic, title drouts are not common place nor easily accepted.
The Rams are tied with Bishop Eustace with six Diamond Classic titles, and are honed in on yet another Tri-County Classic title. They also have won more state titles (multiple times in each decade since 1970) than any program in the state.
So when 2001 is mentioned, well, let’s say the Rams know full well what that means.
“We’re very aware that it’s been a long time since we won the Diamond,” Rams starter Angelo DeAngelis said. “We want to win this one. Especially after we got so close last year (a 6-1 loss in the final to Eastern). You set goals before every season and the Diamond is one of those goals. Yes, we put conference and state a little higher, but we want to win this one.”
Gloucester Catholic, ranked No. 1 in the SJSD Top 10, beat No. 8 Audubon 5-3 in a tight contest that found the Green Wave hitless until the seventh inning even though they had two runs across the plate.
The Rams (19-2) move on to play the winner of Wednesday’s game between Holy Spirit and Hammonton in a 1 p.m. start at Deptford High School in the quarterfinal round.
“We were into this game right from the first pitch,” Catholic head coach Adam Tussey said. “I credit our seniors. I could hear them taking charge and getting this team motivated.”
Audubon (19-3) took advantage of a less than perfect DeAngelis as it forged a 2-1 lead midway through the third inning.
Down 1-0 in the second, DeAngelis battled his motion and struggled with his curve ball as opposing pitcher Andrew Fehr reached base when he was hit by a pitch. A ground out, wild pitch and another ground out scored the tying run.
“I couldn’t find it,” said DeAngelis, who struck out four. “I was trying to snap off sliders in the dugout. It came and went all day.”
In the third, Audubon’s Matt Connelly reached second on an error in right field. The scrappy junior moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and then needed a perfect head first slide to score on a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 lead.
“I don’t think we were really worried at the point,” catcher Sam Punzi said. “They didn’t have a hit and we didn’t score more runs because they made some nice plays. I just think we knew we were going to hit.”
“We had second and third twice in the first three innings and had one run to show for it,” Tussey said. “(Wave first baseman Anthony Rampolla) made a great catch down the line that, if it gets through, maybe it’s a different game, but you play through that.’
Fehr has been a stalwart all season for the Wave but whether his leg bothered him, the fact he had to pitch out of high leverage situation almost the whole game or the heat, the senior finally relented in the fourth.
Catholic senior Chris Turco led off with a single and Brendan Bean (3-for-3, with a triple) doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs … again. Punzi (2-for-3, two RBIs) singled to tie the game at 2-2. After an out, Alex Perschetti hit a two-run single for a 4-2 lead.
“This team battles,” said Bean, who recently surpassed 100 career hits with Wildwood and now Catholic. “We needed those runs but we just felt we would break through at some point.”
With two outs in the fourth, DeAngelis gave way to Bean who recorded four straight outs before a leadoff double in the seventh.
“You look for those moments as a baseball player,” Bean said. “I came in full of confidence in that situation. I knew I had my team behind me and knew I could get it done.
"(DeAngelis) battled and he got us to that point. That’s a good win and we still have a lot of baseball left this week.”
Rams 5, Green Wave 3
Audubon 011 000 1-- 3 1 1
Gloucester Cath. 100 301 x -- 5 10 1
WP: Angelo DeAngelis. LP: Andrew Fehr. 2B: Dillon Tassi, A. Brendan Bean, GC. 3B: Brendan Bean, GC.