TOMS RIVER, N.J. - A freshman came in and closed the final three outs. A sophomore hit a two-run double that eventually became the winning margin. The junior who has been the team leader all year earned the win.
At times the names have changed, but it has pretty much been a youth movement this season for Gloucester Catholic's baseball program.
The Rams proved they weren't too young to win big games, with the exclamation point coming in Saturday's 7-5 victory over Morristown-Beard in the NJSIAA state Non-Public B championship at Toms River North.
While some might have given the young Rams a pass if they didn't increase their state-title total to 14 - best in the state since the advent of the playoffs in 1971 - Gloucester Catholic expected more.
"We take baseball seriously here, and always expect to contend for a state title," said coach Dennis Barth, who had six sophomores in the starting lineup. "We have a lot of young players, but they are good players."
Take sophomore leftfielder Elliott McCummings. He was 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs. McCummings' two-run double in the seventh inning increased the lead to 7-3.
After Rams junior lefthander Cody Brown allowed a two-run homer with no outs in the bottom of the seventh to Zach Gray, freshman righthander Michael Shawaryn entered the game.
Not showing stage fright, Shawaryn struck out the first two batters and got the third on a groundout to end the game.
"I really wasn't nervous out there," Shawaryn said convincingly. "My only thought was that I wanted to get this for the seniors and everybody who came to work so hard for this."
McCummings was just as cool under fire.
"Coach says you practice like a state champion and you could be a state champion," McCummings said. "This was the goal all along, and it feels great."
Barth said that his sophomores aren't typical sophomores, especially McCummings. And the coach said that Shawaryn is only a freshman in name.
"I don't consider Elliott and Mike sophomores or freshmen," Barth said. "I consider them prospects because they are special players."
The Rams (24-7) also needed some veteran leadership, and that was provided by catcher Greg Haines, the only senior starter in the lineup Saturday, and Brown, who has willed this team to postseason success.
Brown finished the season 9-1 and was 4-0 in the Rams' four postseason games. Against Morristown-Beard (21-9), he had a two-run single in the third inning and reached base two other times on a single and walk.
"We are a young team, but age doesn't matter," Brown said. "We've practiced enough to know what to do when we get to this stage."
Few teams in South Jersey practice more than the Rams. Days off are even more infrequent than losses, but all the work expedited the development, turning a young team into yet another impressive champion in this school's rich baseball tradition.
Gloucester Catholic 0030103 - 7103
Morristown-Beard 1000112 - 581
WP: Cody Brown. LP: Jack Fleming. 2B: G-Elliott McCummings 2; M-Ryan Kinsella 2, Zach Gray. HR: M-Zach Gray.