It was only fitting that Pete Rowe was in the middle of some of the most important plays in Central's biggest game of the baseball season on Tuesday.
He has been a key contributor all season, his latest effort coming in a 7-3 victory over rival Frankford that gave the Lancers the Public League championship at La Salle University.
"He's kind of done those things all season," Central coach Rich Weiss said of his junior righthanded pitcher. "He's been our horse. He's 8-0 [in league play]."
Rowe's eighth win gave Central two titles on the same day - the overall Public League title, and the Public League Class AAAA title.
Still, even by his own lofty standards, Rowe had an extraordinary day. He pitched a complete game, started a triple play, and hit a key triple.
"That was the most exciting game I've ever been involved in," Rowe said. "It might seem strange to say that in a 7-3 game, but it wasn't the score - it was the way it happened."
Rowe allowed seven hits and constantly pitched out of trouble.
Next, Central (18-4) will play Monsignor Bonner for the District 12 Class AAAA title at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at LaSalle High..
Rowe's sixth-inning triple drove in the run that made it a 6-3 game, but that was only because of the defensive play he started in the top of that inning.
With runners on first and second and no outs, Augusto Ortega hit a sharp comebacker to Rowe, who threw to third to force out lead runner Omar Cruz. Ortega reached first safely, and Amalec Guzman moved to second. Then both Frankford runners tried to advance, with the throw to second nailing Ortega and the throw home getting Guzman.
"That was a crazy triple play," Weiss said.
"That play was a big mess for a couple of reasons," Frankford coach Juan Namnun said. "When you have young guys with speed, they want to run, but sometimes they run you out of an inning."
If Central and Frankford (15-8) sound as if they've been there before, it's because they have.
This was the ninth time in the past 10 years that the two have met for the title, and it was Central's fourth win in those meetings. The Lancers have won it three of the last five years, though.
Odds are the two will meet again in 12 months or so with similar stakes.
"We lost everybody except one player from our championship team last year," Weiss said. "We had to completely rebuild, and we only have a couple of seniors."
"We have one senior in our starting lineup, so our future is bright," Namnun said.
Frankford 1100010 - 370
Central 200320x - 7100
WP: Pete Rowe. LP: Omar Cruz. 2B: C-Julien Blancon. F-Francisco Bonilla, Amalec Guzman. 3B: C-Rowe. F-Cruz.