METUCHEN, N.J. - Bishop Eustace baseball coach Sam Tropiano tried to look on the bright side on a cloudy day, equating it to a dress rehearsal, albeit a soggy one.
His team had traveled past Exit 10 of the New Jersey Turnpike for Tuesday's South Jersey Non-Public A championship at St. Joseph Metuchen.
Instead of a title, Tropiano and the Crusaders earned another turnpike trip for Wednesday.
Heavy rains shortly before the 4 p.m. start made the infield a quagmire, and the game was postponed until the same time Wednesday.
"It's not that bad," insisted Tropiano, who has 502 career wins. "It's a little team bonding and like a dry run, and now we get it out of our system."
There is one downside: The postponement could seriously alter the team's plans because of NJSIAA pitching rules.
A pitcher may throw as many as 10 innings in a four-day period, and if he throws more than five innings, he must have three complete days of rest.
So if Eustace ace Kenny Fetchko goes more than five innings Wednesday and the Crusaders win, he wouldn't be able to pitch in Saturday's state final. If he goes exactly five, then he would have five innings to throw Saturday.
"You worry about winning the immediate game, and then you worry about the next game," Tropiano said.
Fetchko is 8-1 with a 1.76 ERA, and he has been the winning pitcher in the Crusaders' last two playoff games.
He warmed up briefly Tuesday, throwing 15 pitches, saw that it was going to rain, and stopped.
"I'll be fine," Fetchko said.
Still, it wasn't easy taking that ride home when he was geared to compete.
"I was so ready to go," Fetchko said. "I'll be ready to go [Wednesday]."
St. Joseph coach Paul Esposito planned to start Mississippi State-bound Victor Diaz, and he said Diaz would go again Wednesday.
"I'm just glad we didn't start the game," Esposito said.
A similar scenario occurred in 1997, when rain delayed the South Jersey final a day. Eustace ace Marc Sauer pitched a complete game to beat Camden Catholic, 6-2, for the South Jersey title on a Wednesday, but because of the rules, he couldn't pitch in the Saturday state final.
With No. 2 pitcher Drew Chiesa on the mound, Eustace earned a 9-7 triumph in the Non-Public A state final against Immaculata, which featured current Oakland A's designated hitter Jack Cust.
"This game is a funny game," Tropiano said.
That's his way of saying anything can happen. Baseball is a constant game of adjustments - to pitchers, to hitters and, yes, to the elements.
So Eustace will board the bus again, go through the same drill again. Tropiano went out of his way to make a negative a positive and to demonstrate that it will take more than some heavy rainfall to wash away the Crusaders' championship dreams.