Underdogs reigned supreme in the Georgetown Cup semifinals on Tuesday night.
No. 3-seed St. Mary’s of Lancaster downed No. 2 St. Joe’s, 4-3, in 10 innings, while No. 4 St. Francis eliminated top-seeded Canisius, 3-1, in front of an estimated crowd of 200 at Amherst Audubon Field.
“What can you say? When you upset the No. 1 team, you can’t be anything but happy,” St. Francis coach Paul Bartell said. “I’m especially happy for these seniors who haven’t had an opportunity to get to the finals yet, so it’s exciting where we’re at.”
Senior Michael DeLeo stood tall on the mound in his most important game as a Red Raider to date. The Division II Alderson Broaddus-bound right-hander gave up only one hit, an unearned run and struck out eight in a complete game of work.
“Mike’s the real deal,” Bartell said. “This is his first opportunity, actually, to pitch in a really big game for us because we’ve been so deep pitching-wise the last few years that he’s been our fourth guy. So he finally got an opportunity to step up and he did it for sure.”
Jason Milkowski, who’ll play at Niagara County Community College next year, led the Red Raiders offensively and in the field. The senior showed plenty of range in center field, went 2 for 4 at the plate and scored St. Francis’ first two runs.
Meanwhile, junior Braden Bova proved to be the Lancer in shining armor as his two-RBI single to center field in the top of the 10th proved to be the game-winner.
“He threw me a nice first pitch inside and then the second pitch came, a fastball low,” Bova said. “I just got a good bat on the ball and was fortunate to put it into center field and get us the win.”
St. Joe’s ended up scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th, but popped out with men on second and third base.
“It’s unbelievable,” St. Mary’s coach Mike Wagner said. “I don’t know what to say. We hung tough. We executed as well as they did. We just got the key hit.”
St. Mary’s opened the game with back-to-back triples, which contributed to its early 2-0 lead. St. Joe’s got a run of its own in the bottom of the first to make it 2-1 and eventually tied the game up in the bottom of the sixth when Bryce Donovan crossed home plate.
St. Joe’s couldn’t capitalize in the bottom of the ninth, as it left a runner on third base, and in the bottom of the 10th.
The Red Raiders are heading back to the Georgetown Cup finals for the first time in three years. St. Mary’s hasn’t been to the finals since the early 2000s and hasn’t won since 1980.
“It’s great, our team really does deserve it,” Bova said. “We’ve worked so hard all year long to get to this point, and we finally made it pay off for ourselves.”
Game One of the best-of-three Georgetown Cup championship series at Coca-Cola Field will start at 4 p.m. Tuesday, with Game Two next Wednesday and, if necessary, Game Three on June 4.
“It’s a dream come true,” DeLeo said. “That’s what I was aiming for freshman year. I really want to play there and I hope we win the Georgetown Cup. We will win the Georgetown Cup.”