Monsignor Bonner went 21 years without a Catholic League baseball championship. It might take Friars coach Joe DeBarberie just as long to find another player as dedicated as Rick Reigner.
"There's nobody who competes or wants to achieve greatness more than him," DeBarberie said after Bonner pounded Red Division rival Archbishop Ryan, 13-3, in 41/2 innings Tuesday at Widener University to earn the program's first title since 1989.
In February, though he was still toiling as a reserve point guard for the school's basketball team, Reigner was a fixture at preseason baseball workouts. "He never missed anything," DeBarberie said. "His commitment to being a great player was unbelievable."
Reigner, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior centerfielder and leadoff man, went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored against the Raiders. The Friars struck for four runs in the second inning and nine in the third to triumph by the mercy rule.
"We've been working toward this since we were freshmen," said Reigner, a captain. "To accomplish what we set out to do, it's a great thing."
DeBarberie likened his team to the Archbishop Carroll squad he played for in 1973. That year, the outfielder/relief pitcher and the Patriots advanced to the Catholic League final before losing to Father Judge, 4-0, at Veterans Stadium.
"We didn't have any superstars, but we were fundamentally sound," the skipper said. "The players worked their butts off to get to the title game."
Bonner (19-4) advanced to the District 12 Class AAAA championship game against Central at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at La Salle High. Central defeated Frankford, 7-3, Tuesday in the Public League final at La Salle University.
The Raiders (14-7) posted four singles and took a 3-0 advantage in the top of the first, with RBI singles from Kevin Mack and Steve Markle sandwiching a fielding error.
"I took [righthanded starter Anthony DiGalbo] aside and I said, 'They get nothing from this point forward,' " DeBarberie said. "And they didn't."
Ryan, which last took the crown in 1998, managed only two singles in its last four innings. The Raiders were hurt by five errors, four of which came during Bonner's nine-run outburst.
"We played great baseball for the last 10 or 12 games," Raiders coach Ron Gerhart said. "To revert back and play like that in the championship was really disappointing. We're not used to that situation."
Josh VanHorn's two-run double to right-center field highlighted Bonner's four-run second. In the third, when the Friars sent 13 batters to the plate, Reigner, Alex Liberatore and Matt Ruggieri slapped RBI singles. Steve Markus capped the scoring - and welcomed reliever Sean Kovacs - with a two-run single to right.
Markle, a lefthanded starter, lasted 22/3 innings and allowed six earned runs.
"He's a Jamie Moyer kind of guy," Gerhart said. "He needs to hit his spots to keep hitters off balance."
Reigner, tabbed as Bonner's most valuable player at a team banquet last month, and Ruggieri, a third baseman, are headed to Philadelphia University.
Reigner, of Havertown, came in hitting around .420.
"He's the best," Liberatore said. "He's our Jimmy Rollins, a great table-setter. As he goes, we go."
Archbishop Ryan 300 00 - 3 6 5
Monsignor Bonner 049 0x - 13 11 1
WP: Anthony DiGalbo. LP: Steve Markle. 2B: MB-Alex Liberatore, Josh VanHorn, Rick Reigner, Paul Shepherd.