Cardinal O'Hara High's baseball season is over.
Czech that! No, it's not!
In an "away" game on its home field, O'Hara yesterday edged Father Judge, 5-4, to create one of the Catholic League's all-time weirdest circumstances: a four-way tie for the last three available playoff spots in the Red Division.
Right after the game, decided in part by the heroics of O'Hara sub Peter "Goober" Gbur, who's proud of his Czechoslovakian heritage even though people always butcher his name and ask if he'd like to buy a vowel, there was a flip.
Not a somersault by an excited Lion. A journey up, then down, by a coin.
O'Hara coach John Grossi did the tossing. Judge boss Tim Ginter did the calling. Tails it was and after some quick phone conversations involving those guys and the coaches of the two other teams involved in the four-way tie (all staggered to 4-8 records, by the way), St. Joseph's Prep's Chris Rupertus and Roman Catholic's Anthony Valucci, along with other veteran coaches and the CL's interim baseball moderator, Fran Dougherty, a decision was reached.
Fourth playoff seed: to Judge. Fifth seed: to O'Hara (those two owned the best marks, at 4-2, in games involving the tied teams). Sixth: to the winner of today's Prep-Roman game on La Salle High's field. Turn in uniforms: loser.
Originally, there'd been loose talk of a 2-day mini-tourney that would have delayed the playoffs' first round until Wednesday. Now, that first round will take place tomorrow with the quarterfinals to follow Wednesday.
"An agreement was reached that this was the most sensible way to do it," said La Salle coach Joe Parisi. "It's in the best interest of the league. All of our conversations were relayed to Fran and he made the final decision."
Meanwhile, Grossi had a decision to make after leftfielder Nick DiMarco, leading off the game, was out at first on a grounder and hit the bag at an awkward angle, injuring his ankle.
"I was hoping I'd be the one to go in," said Gbur, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior. "Some of my teammates were saying, 'Get ready. This could be you.'
"You're never quite sure how your opportunity's going to come. When it does, you just want to make the most of it. I love the game of baseball."
Gbur figured he'd made only two or three field appearances all season, though he'd served in the DH slot as recently as last week.
In this one, after junior righthander Rob Walmsley easily retired the first five batters, John Kane kept the second alive with a single. Steve Trainor singled, Sean Rogers and Mike Sciasi drew walks (forced in a run) and Gbur stroked a two-run single to center.
That's guh-burr, if you're wondering.
"The traditional pronunciation is guh-bore," Gbur said. "My grandfather changed it in the '40s or '50s. I get all kinds of pronunciations. Usually goober."
The pitch he spanked was a heater.
"It felt good to do that," he said. "I've been struggling. People say I don't use my lower half [of the body] enough. Just yesterday, I did an hour's worth of tee swings with coach Grossi, and that really helped me."
Said Grossi: "I'm glad Pete had some fun today. He deserves this because he's been putting in extra time."
O'Hara scored its other runs on Devin McCann's sacrifice fly and Nick Donovan's single. Mark Onimus went four-plus innings before yielding to infielders Kane (two) and Mike Schneider (one). In the fifth, O'Hara first baseman Jeff O'Reilly made a perfect relay throw to cut down Kevin Elmer at the plate.
For Judge, whose field was still unplayable due to recent weather woes, Mike O'Hanlon went 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored and Mike McLaughlin crushed an RBI triple to dead center.