Hector Cerda isn't quite sure how he will sit through eight periods of classes at Frankford High School today.
See, the Pioneers pitcher was the hero in Frankford's 9-3 Public League semifinal thumping of rival Central yesterday, in an inferno that was Rich Ashburn Field.
Now he and the rest of Pioneers eagerly await 3:30 this afternoon, when they'll return to Ashburn Field to meet Thomas Edison, in what will be Frankford's eighth title appearance in 9 years, with the lone exception being in '09.
"I don't think it's possible to pay attention, I am just going to be looking at the clock all day, waiting for the bell to ring," Cerda joked. "I am so excited for my team and that I was able to get the job done. The heat made it tough, though, really tough."
Cerda went 6 innings in the searing heat, hurling 98 pitches before he gave up three earned runs in the seventh inning and then finished the afternoon in rightfield. In a little more than 2 hours, Cerda hurled 62 strikes and struck out six - including two nasty fastballs that found a pair of Central batters looking. At the plate, he proved just as menacing, with three bases-on-balls (including an intentional walk in the sixth), a hit and a run scored.
Oh, by the way, in his three seasons at Frankford (13-2), this was Cerda's first time pitching in a league semifinal.
"It was really hot, man," Cerda said. "After every inning, I kept putting a cold, wet towel on my head to keep me fresh, but I didn't want to come out. I wanted to get the complete game, but, after a while, I started getting tired and [Central] just started seeing my pitches."
Central (10-5) finally got to Cerda, busting him for three runs in the final frame, including a triple from pitcher Mike Cavallaro (1-for-4, RBI, run). Central's relief pitcher, Pete Rowe, also belted an RBI double to put the game at 9-3 with two outs. By that time, however, the damage, fueled by an afternoon of aggressive baserunning and timely hits, was just about complete, as Brandon Gonzalez came on to allow one hit to close out Frankford's win.
How about seven stolen bases, including three from Ricky Alvarez and a pair from Cerda. Want more? Frankford capitalized on a pair of errors to go up three runs in the third. In all, Frankford scored nine runs on only six hits - only one of which that wasn't a single (Kevin Montero's triple in the sixth).
"They were just better this year," Central coach Rich Weiss said of Frankford. "We'll get them next year; we got them last year [in the Pub championship] and they got us this year. We have freshmen and sophomores that can move up to take their place - some of whom already have."
Central will lose three starters off this year's club, and Weiss was optimistic that his returnees won't forget the sour taste in what has become quite the epic battle in Public League baseball.
"These guys wanted this game and they proved it," Frankford coach Juan Namnun said. "What's nice about this team is that we really have an even blend of talent, I do consider us having a couple of upper-level players, but as a unit we probably have seven or eight really good baseball players. In years past, we had a few great players that pulled us through; this year, we ran behind a whole unit as opposed to three or four guys."
And his ace hurler, Cerda?
"The kid's a warrior," Namnun said. "Coming here, he was amped up, and I knew it and we talked about him just settling down and not getting too excited. I mean he pitched a no-hitter earlier this year [against Washington on May 2], so I know he's got it in him."
In another game: