With his high school athletic career winding down, Archbishop Ryan's Mark Golic was due to experience a bit of euphoria. OK, way overdue.
The 5-foot-6, 155-pound senior was a tailback and safety for a football squad that went 5-27 in his three varsity seasons. In baseball early this spring, he struggled with his fielding at shortstop, his spot since sophomore year, and was moved to right field.
On Friday, Golic played a starring role as Ryan struck for eight runs in the fourth inning and held off favored Archbishop Wood, 9-8, in a Catholic League semifinal playoff at La Salle High.
"It feels great to accomplish this, especially after the struggles we had in football," said Golic, 18. "It's nice to be on the winning end in a big game."
Golic, a leadoff man, went 2 for 4 and scored two runs as the Raiders upended the Vikings, ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, and moved closer to their first title since 1998.
In the eight-run fourth, when Ryan sent 12 batters to the plate, Golic smacked a three-run double off reliever Larry Brittingham to left-center field. "It was a fastball right down the middle," Golic said. "I just put the bat on the ball, and it went."
On Tuesday at Widener, the Raiders will face Monsignor Bonner, a 9-5 semifinal winner over Neumann-Goretti, in an all-Red Division league final.
Golic, of Bensalem, opened the game with a single to left field. He scored on shortstop Eric Frain's triple.
"It was a tough decision to switch Mark from shortstop to the outfield," Ryan coach Ron Gerhart said, "but it was a decision that had to be made. We kept him in the lineup because we needed his leadoff abilities."
The Vikings are not finished. The Blue Division champions will play Franklin Towne Charter, the Public League representative, for the PIAA District 12 Class AAA title Thursday at La Salle High.
Trailing by 9-2 after Ryan's fourth inning, Wood climbed back in with five runs in the sixth. In the home seventh, after Jeff Courter made it 9-8 on a double to right-center, Brittingham faced Sean Kovacs, just in for lefthanded starter Kevin Mack, with two outs and runners on first and second.
Brittingham launched what looked like a game-winning home run to deep center. The Ryan faithful breathed a heavy sigh of relief when Pat Kwiatkowski gloved the bomb just in front of the 375-foot sign.
"Larry put a heck of a swing on the ball there at the end," Wood coach Jim DiGuiseppe Jr. said.
Archbishop Ryan 1008000 - 9100
Archbishop Wood 2000051 - 8112
WP: Kevin Mack. LP: Larry Brittingham. 2B: AR-Mike Anusky, Mark Golic, John Rizzo, Colin Budny; AW-Kyle McCrossen, Jeff Courter. 3B: AR-Eric Frain. HR: AW-Mike Spahits, Chris Zikmund.