It's one more, making four, for Prep
Marauders win fourth straight HCIAA baseball title
Just minutes after getting trounced 12-5 by Seton Hall Prep in the NJSIAA Parochial A North semifinals last Friday, veteran St. Peter's Prep head coach Joe Urbanovich wasn't wasting any time to get the fire boiling in his blood."I want to play the game [the HCIAA Coviello title game against Memorial] right now," Urbanovich said. "That's how fired up I am."
Urbanovich couldn't fathom the thought of how flat and uninspired his team was against Seton Hall Prep, with a chance to play for a state championship on the line.
Anyone who saw the Marauders play on Friday had to wonder how they were going to find the inspiration to somehow bounce back and play for the county crown 24 hours after getting smacked around by Seton Hall.
"We were ready the next day," Urbanovich said. "I could sense it. We were playing pretty well [having won 12 straight games] going into the Seton Hall game, so I thought we could pick it back up again."
Urbanovich handed the ball to senior Anthony Pastore, who had pitched so well in the Marauders' huge win over Immaculata in the state sectional quarterfinals.
"My only concern with Anthony was how long he could last," Urbanovich said. "I knew that he wanted to pitch and had great control since he returned."
Pastore missed most of the season with a broken hand, so he was somewhat of a question mark heading into the final week of the season.
"I really hadn't had much chance to pitch all season," Pastore said. "Coach spoke to me and told me that he wanted me to go a few innings. But once I went out there, I felt fine. I never lost any confidence. I always knew I could get people out. It meant a lot to me that Coach had faith in me. For having that faith, I couldn't let him down."
Pastore didn't let Urbanovich down, and came through with the game of his life. Pastore scattered eight hits, striking out four and walking three, leading the Marauders to a 9-6 win over Memorial for the school's fourth straight HCIAA Coviello title - incredibly, the fourth straight time that St. Peter's defeated Memorial in the title game.
Pastore also delivered two hits, including a clutch RBI double that tied the game at 2-2 in the first inning.
"Once I got a shot to show what I could do, I knew I was going to have a good game," Pastore said. "But to win the MVP of the game? That's not bad at all."
"After Anthony found himself and settled in," Urbanovich said. "He did a great job for us."
So did Pat Murphy, another little-known player who came through in a big way. Murphy, a junior designated hitter, lashed out three hits, including two doubles, and drove in three runs.
"The first inning, Pat came over to me and said that he was too tense," Urbanovich said. "So I told him to just let it fly. He did and the result was the two good doubles."
Gritty performer Anthony Wolleon also had three hits.
"I like the way Anthony handles himself," Urbanovich said. "He's a winner. They're a bunch of good kids who understand what it takes to win."
Urbanovich was asked what it was like to win yet another county title, after going nearly 25 years as a coach without winning a single championship. The Marauders have now won five in the last seven years, including the four in a row.
"Each one is so totally different," Urbanovich said. "This one is special because the whole season was a scrap. It didn't start out the way we planned, but we came back and played well and because of that. It's very rewarding."
While the Marauders won the county crown for the fourth time in a row - is there a term called a "four-peat"? - Urbanovich is already looking forward to next season.
"By no means is this the end of the road," Urbanovich said. "We do graduate 11 seniors, but we have a good nucleus of kids who handled pressure situations this year. I'm already looking forward to next year. I think we're going to continue to do this for a long time. It's a good feeling."