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St. Francis baseball team advances to Georgetown Cup finals with win over St. Joe’s

Baseball is often a game of bad bounces and just plain bad luck. But those bounces and luck can turn in an instant if you’re patient enough.

Through four innings of the Georgetown Cup semifinals on Monday, St. Francis stared at a 2-0 deficit and had only one hit to show for. In the fifth inning, patience finally paid off.

The No. 3-seeded Red Raiders scored all six of their runs in the fifth to top No. 2 St. Joe’s, 6-3, at Robert T. Scott Athletic Field in the third game of their best-of-three series to move onto the Georgetown Cup finals, where they’ll look to defend their 2015 title.

The Red Raiders started working the count more after going through only 10 batters the previous three innings combined. It contributed to five straight walks to start the fifth inning, which scored Gerald Hickson after the first baserunner was thrown out attempting to steal second base.

Jacob Unger scored next on a single by Cole O’Connor, and Jacob Victor’s subsequent double should’ve scored another two but only Steve Mazzone’s run counted after the other runner was called out for missing third base on his way home.

After Jake Kaempf walked to load the bases again, Bryan Zurowski stroked a bases-clearing triple to deep left field that scored O’Connor, Victor and Kaempf.

“I think we were just patient,” said St. Francis coach Paul Bartell. “We started to struggle a little bit, couldn’t find the zone and we were just selective with our pitches. So we just waited, and then when we had an opportunity to put a few on the board once we got some guys on base, we did that.”

The whole three-game series was really a series of big innings, Bartell added. St. Francis blanked St. Joe’s on Saturday, 9-0, and the Marauders turned the tables on Sunday, winning 11-0.

St. Francis right-hander Nicholas Batchev never allowed the Marauders that big inning Monday. The senior scattered 10 hits in pitching the complete game while striking out four on only four days of rest. He had pitched a complete game in the quarterfinals Thursday against Bishop Timon-St. Jude.

After Luke Pierce scored for St. Joe’s (18-8) in the bottom of the first on an Anthony Brophy sacrifice fly to right field, Batchev settled in nicely by mixing his fastball with an effective slider.

“I just had to relax and get set, not be nervous and everything,” Batchev said. “I was fine after the first few innings.”

The Marauders made it 2-0 in the fourth when Jake Pavicich knocked in Gavin Collura with an RBI single, and scored their final run in the sixth when Will Frank’s single scored Jordan Jenneve.

Waiting for the Red Raiders (17-7) is top-seeded Canisius (21-1). The Crusaders beat St. Francis by a combined 20-4 in two matchups during the regular season.

“They have good pitching and defense so if you make mistakes, they’re going to bury you,” Bartell said. “The two times we played them we did not play what I would call our best defensive game. We just have to make sure we minimize our mistakes and take advantage of opportunities. If we can do that we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

The best-of-three Georgetown Cup Finals at Coca-Cola Field will start at 4 p.m. Thursday with Game Two on Friday. If necessary, a third game will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday.