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Late rally propels St. Joe's to Georgetown Cup championship

As freshmen, C.J. Falk and Colin Miller had a goal of capping their St. Joe's baseball careers as champions.

They did just that Thursday, and it's fitting both seniors played vital roles in helping the Marauders earn their first championship in four years.

St. Joe's is the top team in the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association once again. The Marauders overcame a deficit by scoring six times in the top of the sixth in earning a 6-1 triumph over host St. Mary's of Lancaster in the third and decisive game of the Georgetown Cup championship series.

Miller went the distance, limiting the Lancers to just four hits as the lefty's sixth strikeout sparked a Marauders celebration near the mound as St. Joe's bounced back from Wednesday's Game Two loss to capture the series, 2-1.

"I don't even know how to find the words for it," Miller said. "It's special to finish up that way that's for sure."

The season finished up in a unique way for the league.

Traditionally, the Georgetown Cup championship series is played at Coca-Cola Field, but Tuesday's rainout of Game Two extended the series an extra day. That put the Monsignor Martin in a spot where it had to move a potential Game Three because the home of the Buffalo Bisons wasn't available Thursday.

Since the Lancers were the highest remaining seed, the league moved the winner-take-all clash to St. Mary's It's was quite the festive atmosphere as more than 500 fans showed up – most of them lined up along the third baseline.

The St. Joe's faithful in attendance had plenty to shout about during a sixth inning in which Marauders batters finally got to St. Mary's pitcher Frank Propis, who induced three double plays while keeping them off balance up to that point.

Falk, the No. 9 hitter, turned things around by working a lead-off walk. He then stole second and moved to third on a bloop single to right by Luke Pierce (2 for 4). Nick Falbo (2 for 4) drove Falk in with a single. Two batters later, Alex Zulia gave St. Joe's the lead for good as he pulled a 3-2 pitch past the first baseman for a two-run single.

"It's a big hit but I'd like to thank my players for getting on base first," said Zulia. "It helped out a lot. It was a pitch inside, I like to pull it down the line. … It just snuck by him."

The Marauders collected five of their eight hits and worked three walks during the outburst. "It only takes one inning like that to win a ball game," said Falk, who capped it with a two-run single of his own.

"We just wanted to get into a situation where we had a chance," Marauders coach Paul Nasca said. "Our whole season's been to give us a chance to win a title and then we'll see how it shakes out on the field. … There were only two games separating the top five teams (in the league). Everybody's good in this league. You've got to be on your best stuff every game."

Propis and Miller were in command early, with Propis doing a fine job keeping St. Joe's off balance with a sharp curve and changeup. The Lancers gave him a lead to work with in the third as Zach Penksa's double to left plated John Connolly.

St. Joe's threatened to rally in the fourth by getting the first two batters on base, but a fielder's choice and a line-drive double-play at the first baseman ended that threat. An inning earlier, Falk had lined into a rally killing double play as well. After Propis started another double play to end the fifth, it seemed like St. Mary's was well on its way toward winning its first Cup since 1980.

But as Falk said, it only takes one big inning to change things in a baseball game. He played a big role in bringing about that change.

"Ever since freshman year I always wanted to play for varsity and win a championship," Falk said. "To finally get it is ecstatic."

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