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Gloucester, Audubon hot teams on diamond

No team made a more impressive comeback to remain alive in the baseball playoff hunt than Gloucester. The Lions, who visit Pitman in Tuesday's 4 p.m. South Jersey Group 1 semifinal, trailed Penns Grove, 6-0, entering the top of the seventh in Friday's quarterfinal.

No team made a more impressive comeback to remain alive in the baseball playoff hunt than Gloucester. The Lions, who visit Pitman in Tuesday's 4 p.m. South Jersey Group 1 semifinal, trailed Penns Grove, 6-0, entering the top of the seventh in Friday's quarterfinal.

The Lions had just three hits against Ralph Peterson, a pitcher who threw a one-hitter and struck out 13 in a 4-0 win over Gloucester on May 12.

But Gloucester erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh and three more in the eighth for a 9-6 win over the second-seeded Red Devils.

"This is the kind of win we've been waiting for all year," Gloucester coach Kevin Fahy said. "For me as a head coach, this was the most improbable comeback."

The key hit in the seventh inning was a three-run home run by Dan Viveiros that cut the deficit to 6-5. Brandon Blackiston's RBI single tied the score.

Winning pitcher Paul Walters broke the tie with a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth.

Viveiros and Walters have been the offensive catalysts all season for the 13-11 Lions. Walters, who earned the win with 62/3 innings of relief, is batting .472 with 16 runs and 17 RBIs.

Viveiros is hitting .342 with 30 runs and four homers.

The Lions lost their two previous games this season to Pitman by 6-1, then 6-5 in nine innings. In the nine-inning loss, Gloucester led, 5-3, entering the bottom of the seventh before Pitman sent it to extra innings.

"It took a couple of days to get over that Pitman game," Fahy said. "We're glad to get another crack at them."

Green Wave red hot. Audubon has won 12 in a row. The Green Wave last lost, 6-3, to Haddon Township on April 23. Last week, Audubon stayed in the Colonial Conference Patriot race by beating Haddon Township, 3-2.

Haddon Township has clinched at least a share of the title. Audubon would earn a share with remaining wins over West Deptford and Paulsboro.

The Green Wave's game at West Deptford, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, could be rescheduled, according to Audubon coach Rich Horan.

Audubon doesn't want to play a night game, then turn around and visit Haddon Township in Tuesday's South Jersey Group 2 semifinal.

For a team that began the year 0-3, the 17-4 Green Wave have clearly rebounded.

"We're making plays and getting big hits," Horan said.

Among others, the double-play combination of brothers John Flacco at shortstop and Brian Flacco at second base has come through, Horan said.

Horan wasn't sure if senior ace Wade Gies would get the start against Haddon Township. He threw five innings and approximately 90 pitches in Friday's 10-3 tournament win over West Deptford.

Win of the week. No. 12-seeded Camden Catholic opened some eyes with Friday's 12-4 South Jersey Non-Public A win over No. 5 Holy Spirit.

The Irish are 6-13 and visit fourth-seeded Notre Dame on Tuesday. Camden Catholic began the season 0-5, playing those games in the first nine days.

Competing in the Olympic Conference, has been a major benefit, according to coach Bob Moffett.

For a team often starting five sophomores, the Irish have played much better the second part of the year.

"I think our tough schedule has really helped this group," Moffett said.

Sophomore Matt McElhatton is a first-team all-conference second baseman, while junior first baseman Tyler Faiola (who has five home runs) and sophomore outfielder Pete Galiano were second-team choices.

Hot-hitting catcher. Holy Cross junior catcher Mark Zagunis already has 96 career hits. This season, Zagunis is batting .612 (30 for 49) with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. He has a staggering .789 on base percentage and is one reason why the junior class all across South Jersey is thought of so highly.

Rematches. All four public school semifinals have at least one rematch. Besides Gloucester-Pitman in Group 1 and Haddon Township-Audubon in Group 2, the others are Woodstown-Buena in Group 2, Hammonton-Ocean City (Group 3) and Cherokee-Washington Township (Group 4).

Buena beat Woodstown, 6-2, on May 12. Ocean City is 2-0 against Hammonton, winning 7-5 and 5-1. Washington Township has beaten Cherokee twice, 6-1 and 7-5.

Pioneer pride. Clearview righthander Shane Taylor continued his postseason dominance in Friday's 5-3 win over Egg Harbor Township. Taylor has won both games for the 15th-seeded Pioneers and is 6-0 lifetime in the postseason for Clearview, which visits Lenape in Tuesday's Group 4 semifinal.

Pioneers coach Rocco Cornacchia says that Taylor will get the start against Lenape. Headed to the University of North Carolina, Taylor is 5-2 this season with four saves and a 1.86 ERA.

Braddock to the bigs. Former Gloucester Catholic lefthander Zach Braddock has been called up by the Milwaukee Brewers. The 22-year-old Braddock was 0-0 with one save and a 4.50 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the triple-A Nashville Sounds. Braddock, who also played a year at Burlington County College, had 28 strikeouts and nine walks in 16 innings for Nashville.

Wild game. Washington Township defeated Williamstown, 9-8, on Saturday night in a game with plenty of seventh inning fireworks. Trailing 7-0, Williamstown scored eight runs in the top of the seventh.

Washington Township responded with a two-out, two-run walk-off home run by Mike Connors.