By Phil Anastasia
For Kevin Terifay and Zak Chiaradia, it wasn't about making great baseball plays.
It was more basic than that.
"All I asked these guys to do was to battle," Audubon coach Rich Horan said after his team stunned Gloucester Catholic by 1-0 Saturday in the first-round of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic. "When you battle, good things happen."
Terifay (pictured), a senior right-handed pitcher, unfurled a gritty performance before a big crowd at Maple Shade. He displayed great command of his fastball and slider and made big pitches at big times in limiting the heavy-hitting Rams to five singles.
Chiaradia, a senior catcher, summed up Audubon's victory in one epic at-bat against Gloucester Catholic ace junior right-hander John Murphy in the third inning.
Chiaradia hit four foul balls before working a bases-loaded walk in a nine-pitch encounter that produced the only run in the fast-paced, well-played game.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Chiaradia said. "I thought maybe I could get a boot (error) or get one back up the middle.
"I just kept fouling them off. He (Murphy) is a great pitcher. He finally threw me that last pitch and it was a ball."
The victory popped the cork on a post-game celebration for Audubon (14-6), which advanced to face St. Augustine in Saturday's quarterfinals at Deptford.
St. Augustine won the first game at Maple Shade by a 5-2 score over Clearview as senior right-hander Joey Gatto pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts and senior second baseman Dylan Tolbert went 3-for-3.
"We needed this bad," Terifay said. "That (Gloucester Catholic) is a great team over there. But we know we can play with the big teams and this gives us a lot of confidence."
Murphy was the hard-luck loser for Gloucester Catholic (15-5), the No. 3 team in The Inquirer Top 10. The Maryland recruit allowed one unearned run and just four singles with six strikeouts.
"You can't win a game if you don't score any runs," Gloucester Catholic coach Mike Rucci said. "It's an upsetting loss, a disappointing loss. We didn't have too many good at-bats."
The loss continued Gloucester Catholic's frustration in the Diamond Classic, South Jersey's most prestigious in-season tournament.
After winning six titles from 1994 through 2001, the Rams have gone 13 years without capturing the crown. In that span, they've won six state titles.
The loss also marked the third year in a row that Gloucester Catholic has lost in the first round, all at Maple Shade.
"Give their kid (Terifay) credit," Rucci said. "He threw strikes and kept us off-balanced."
Audubon played strong defense behind Terifay, as third baseman Austin Polidoro, shortstop Dillon Tassi and second baseman Mic Mannion handled 10 chances without a miscue.
Tassi made a nice play on Phil Dickinson's sharp grounder up the middle in the third and Polidoro flashed the leather on a hard grounder by Mike Garafolo in the fifth.
In the seventh, centerfielder Eric Schorr made a running catch of a liner by Jake Gillis, and Tassi and Mannion ended the game by combining for force outs on a pair of well-struck balls.
"My defense was great," Terifay said. "I couldn't have done it without them."
Audubon ground out the game's only run. Polidoro led off the third and reached on an infield error. Terifay dropped a sacrifice bunt, and Tassi punched a single to right to put runners on first and third.
After a strikeout, Mannion and Chiaradia both worked walks on a 3-2 counts, the latter after falling behind 1-2 and fouling off four of Murphy's 90 m.p.h. fastballs.
"That at-bat," Horan said of Chiaradia's work at the plate. "That's what it's all about."
Gloucester Catholic 000 000 0 -- 0 5 1
Audubon 001 000 x -- 1 4 1
WP: Kevin Terifay. LP: John Murphy.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org