Kane Price is a starting outfielder and backup catcher for Council Rock South, but his No. 51 jersey is not a tribute to Phillies backstop Carlos Ruiz.
"I've worn that number ever since I was 13," he said. "I was playing junior-legion ball for Northampton, and the coach just happened to give me that jersey. I had a great season, so I decided to stay with it."
Price also has made the most out of the number 8, as in his spot in C.R. South's batting lineup. In Wednesday's PIAA District 1 Class AAAA second-round playoff against Downingtown East, his 3-for-3 effort sparked the Golden Hawks to a dramatic 6-5 victory in Holland.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the 5-foot-9, 168-pound leftfielder produced a walk-off two-run single to right-center field. The game-winner barely escaped the glove of diving centerfielder Jeff Boorman, who earlier had robbed Brian Donnelly of a three-run homer.
"I thought he was going to come up with it," Price said. "For a second, my heart dropped. When I saw the ball drop in, that was the greatest feeling."
With runners at first and second, Price connected on an 0-1 curveball from righthanded reliever Patrick Pittman.
"I just wanted to put the ball in play somewhere," he said. "I had to keep us in the game. We had to keep the season going for our seniors."
On Friday, C.R. South, the No. 4 seed from the North, will visit Marple Newtown, the South's No. 1 seed, in a quarterfinal. The winner will clinch a berth in states; the loser can gain one of the district's five berths in the consolation bracket.
Downingtown East, the South's No. 5 seed, was hurt by five errors. The Cougars, runners-up to West Chester East in the Ches-Mont League, closed with a 17-4 record.
With one out in the seventh, C.R. South's Dan Callahan and Zak Gross drew back-to-back walks. After Bret DeStefano grounded out to shortstop, Price came up with the clutch hit.
"His statistics this year are deceiving," Golden Hawks coach Greg Young said. "If batting average was based on hard-hit balls, he'd be batting .500. He's flourished where he's at. He's done a great job for us."
In the second, Price lifted a 1-0 fastball from righthander Chris Ward over the right-field fence. Price also singled in the fourth.
Spurred by Boorman and Ryan O'Connell, both of whom reached base on perfectly placed bunts toward third base, Downingtown East manufactured three runs in the third to take a 4-1 advantage.
With two outs in the fifth and the Golden Hawks (15-3) down by 5-4, Donnelly was stripped of a lead-changing homer when Boorman, with his back to the fence, made a leaping grab.
"It was an unbelievable play," Young said. "But that kind of stuff happens. We weren't about to roll over. Our kids weren't going to let that happen."
DeStefano, a junior lefty, allowed seven hits and four earned runs in 61/3 innings. Donnelly earned the win in relief.
Downingtown East 013 010 0 - 5 7 5
Council Rock South 012 100 2 - 6 5 1
WP: Brian Donnelly. LP: Patrick Pittman. 2B: DE-Alex Kowalczyk, Scott Steffy. 3B: DE-Jeff Boorman. HR: CRS-Kane Price.