Joe Harvey admittedly did not know much about his opponent, Esperanza Academy, before yesterday's Class AA City Title game at Campbell's Field in Camden.
"We knew absolutely nothing about them," he said. "I think sometimes not really knowing anything about the other team helps. That way you don't think too much."
Harvey didn't have to do much thinking at all yesterday. The junior from Kennedy-Kenrick started at first base but switched to pitcher in the third inning and threw one inning for the Wolverines, earning the win in a 12-1 thrashing that only lasted five innings.
But Harvey was most impressive at the dish, going 3-for-3 with 5 RBI on a pair of singles and the game's only double.
"This is what I have been trying to do all year," said Harvey, K-K's cleanup hitter. "I haven't been successful every game, but it's been my job all season. I picked a good time to do it."
The win captures the District 12 Class AA championship for the Wolverines but more importantly, gives them the higher District 12 seed in the upcoming PIAA state tournament. K-K will face the runner-up from District 3 - the loser of Brandywine Heights vs. Tulpehocken - on Monday at La Salle University.
Esperanza (10-4) also will continue to the state tournament but will face the winner of that District 3 game on Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Harvey helped get Kennedy-Kenrick off to a hot start on a balmy afternoon by bringing in Austin Kelly in the first inning. One inning later, he broke the game open by cleaning house with a bases-juiced double to the gap in left-centerfield.
Kennedy-Kenrick (14-5) scored six runs in the second inning, already well on the way to a mercy- rule victory over the Public League's AA representative.
"Any title means a lot to our program," K-K head coach Tom Sergio said after earning his first title in two seasons as skipper. "I had a little bit of a nervous moment right before the first pitch, not knowing much about the other team. It was a little scary. But I knew that we had the talent and pitching - we just needed to focus - to do well."
The Wolverines rotated among four pitchers to share the five innings of work. Starter Derek Barnes was flawless in two frames with one hit and five strikeouts. Harvey was perfect on the mound, too, striking out two in the third inning. Jim Volpe and Justin Williamson cleaned up for him.
Centerfielder Ed Skilton also went 3-for-3 with 3 RBI for Kennedy-Kenrick, helping the Wolverines finally realize one of their dreams this season.
"There were a lot of unique opportunities this season with the Catholic League joining the PIAA," Sergio said. "We wanted to win the Catholic League and division titles, but we still have a state title [up for grabs].
"We knew coming into this season that we were a good team for AA," Harvey said. "We feel really good now.
"This put a lot of confidence back in us." *