For Brett Tiagwad and his two football-playing teammates, it was like the proverbial elephant in the room.
A championship-game football loss to Roman Catholic last fall, when St. Joseph's Prep was a considerable favorite, lingered for Tiagwad, Aaron Haas and Tim Edger. The positive? It provided extra motivation on the diamond.
"I think we worked a lot harder in baseball after losing that last football game," said Tiagwad, a receiver on the gridiron.
Yesterday, at the expense of Monsignor Bonner, the senior trio gained a measure of redemption. With Tiagwad going 3 for 4, including a two-run single in the sixth inning, and junior Kyle Mullen twirling a four-hitter, the Hawks downed the Friars, 5-1, on a humid day at Widener University and repeated as Catholic League champions.
Haas, a first baseman who quarterbacked the football team, went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. He also came up big on defense. Edger, a shortstop who last fall earned second-team all-area honors as a kicker, was involved in nine putouts.
Of the two-sport standouts, Prep manager Chris Rupertus said, "Those three kids are incredible competitors. They all play with confidence. It's confidence, not arrogance."
After snapping an 82-year championship drought last year, the Hawks (19-3) claimed back-to-back titles for the first time since 1924-25.
The Prep, ranked No. 3 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, denied the fourth-ranked Friars (16-6) their first crown since 1989. The squads had split during the regular season.
The Hawks totaled eights hits, all singles. In the third inning, a Bonner error led to three unearned runs. Tiagwad, a second baseman and leadoff man, and Haas scored on Jeff Lynch's single to left-center field.
Bonner ace and Catholic Red Division MVP Conor Kerins, who came in with an 8-0 record and a 1.42 ERA, suffered his first loss of the season. The southpaw threw 99 pitches, 66 for strikes. He totaled 33 pitches in the third.
"He's a tough kid," Rupertus said. "We wanted to try to wear him down early on. We wanted to put the ball in play, try to find a chink in their armor."
After the Friars notched their lone run in the sixth, on an up-the-middle single by Rob Benedict, the Prep added two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Tiagwad's single to left knocked in pinch-runner Pat Carbone and Dan Turner.
Mullen, a junior righthander from Berwyn, finished with an 8-2 record and two saves. In 49 innings, he struck out 45.
"He's tremendous," Bonner coach Joe DeBarberie said. "He spots his pitches, makes you hit the ball. He just knows how to pitch."
Haas was stellar on defense. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder backhanded a grounder to deny a fifth-inning hit. In the sixth and seventh innings, he scooped throws from Edger.
Monsignor Bonner 000 001 0 - 1 4 1
St. Joseph's Prep 003 002 x - 5 8 0
WP: Kyle Mullen. LP: Conor Kerins. 2B: MBPat Warrington.