To motivate his baseball players, coach Chris Rupertus of St. Joseph's Prep won't have to try very hard.

They already know there's life after a loss in the Catholic League baseball playoffs, and to realize a state championship is possible, they need only to read newspaper stories barely 2 months old.

Exhibit A: Archbishop Carroll suffered a setback to Roman Catholic in a CL basketball semifinal, but regrouped in fine fashion to capture state AAA honors.

Exhibit B (so far): The Prep was dumped by Neumann-Goretti in a baseball semi. When N-G, a AAA school, went on to best La Salle for the CL title, that result left the Prep and La Salle deadlocked for the league's top AAAA spot. The Hawks then captured a one-game showdown and followed with a triumph over Central for the City Title.

Which brings us to today . . .

The Prep's search for a state title will begin at 1 o'clock, at La Salle University, with a game against Garnet Valley, the fourth seed (of five) from District 1.

Rupertus has two quality starters, senior righthanders Kyle Mullen and Kevin Gillen, and it's expected the former will go today.

La Salle will be the site of a doubleheader. In the 4 o'clock AA daycap, Kennedy-Kenrick, District 12's top seed, will host Tulpehocken (District 3, No. 2). K-K's headliner is slugging third baseman-catcher Christian "Ya-Ya" Walker, a possible high-round pick in next week's major league draft.

Four more D-12 squads will play first-rounders today:

A - Girard Academic Music Program, the only entrant, meets Camp Hill (3, 1), at 4 o'clock, at Hershey High.

AA - Runner-up Esperanza Charter faces Brandywine Heights (3, 1), at 3, at Memorial Stadium, in Ephrata.

AAA - Neumann-Goretti battles Blue Mountain (11, 1), at 2, at Stump Stadium, in Pine Grove.

AAAA - Central, the runner-up, goes to Bears Stadium, in Boyertown, to face Council Rock North (1, 2), at 4.

The next round for all four classifications is Thursday. Just four wins are necessary to win a state title. The final two rounds are next Monday and June 12; all four finals are set for Blair County Ballpark, a minor league field in Altoona. *