George Hatton kept hoping the special event would happen sooner or later.

OK, so later wound up with "much, much, much'' in front of it, but that did not diminish the euphoria.

Hatton, a 5-6, 135-pound senior righthander, yesterday pitched an admittedly not-quite-pristine five innings to collect his first high school victory as visiting Neumann-Goretti thumped West Catholic, 14-4, in Catholic South baseball.

Both teams entered 0-15 in league play and the Burrs' CL losing streak now stands at 50.

"We looked at West the way I'm sure all other teams look at both of us - good chance for a win,'' Hatton said. "Maybe things can snowball now. We'll look to sweep West [in the three-game series] and give O'Hara some problems next week as they battle for first.''

Pause. "Geez, that's going to be my last week as a high school player.''

Time goes quickly even when you're not having non-stop fun.

"We knew this was a great chance to get our first one,'' Hatton said. "We came in confident, we all got our hits and our defense held up.

"I've been waiting 4 years for this. I did a little pitching soph and junior year, but I've been starting all this season. Had some tough losses. I was the pitcher when we had that 3-3 tie with Kennedy-Kenrick that we had to replay. For that one, it was the third time they'd seen me. They knew my pitches and got me.''

Hatton surrendered eight hits, five walks and three runs (all earned) in five innings while striking out eight before Blaze Cedrone finished. Hatton reached base in all four plate appearances due to two hard-hit singles, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. He stole a base and scored three runs.

Sophomore catcher Joe Armata went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs scored. He also gunned down two would-be basestealers. Danny Behlau went 3-for-4 with a double, steal, three RBI and two runs scored. For West, freshman Anthony DiGalbo posted two doubles among three hits.

Hatton, who lives near 16th and Bigler, is headed for Neumann College (fitting, eh?) to major in sports management and play second base, with perhaps some pitching mixed in.

He'd like to be the Phillies' general manager, but would not moan if his career path leads to an athletic director's chair at a high school or college.

From West's field, Hatton was heading to a South Philly event feting its dining treasures. He would be representing N-G and handing out samples.

"Have to stay active,'' he quipped.

And his celebratory meal would be . . . ?

"A Pat's steak,'' he said. "I'm a Geno's man, but they're not going to be there.''

Just like that first high school pitching win almost wasn't. *