Early on Friday, when underdog Frankford touched Monsignor Bonner's Marty McKeone for two doubles and a bunt single, it looked as if it might be a drama-filled PIAA District 12 Class AAAA baseball final.
But McKeone pretty much silenced the Pioneers after a shaky first trip to the mound. He yielded just one more hit and a late unearned run as the Friars triumphed, 7-2, at Richie Ashburn Field in South Philadelphia to collect their second straight district crown.
Bonner coach Joe DeBarberie had worried that Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League title game could result in a flat performance against the Public League champs.
"That loss is still in the back of their heads," he said. "It was a short turnaround, so I didn't know how we would play."
It was not a crisp or spirited effort by the Friars. They had just four hits through five innings, and they equaled Frankford's five errors. Afterward, the players barely celebrated.
"It was hard coming off that loss," senior centerfielder Jamie Juisti said. "That was the game we really wanted. But we have to put that behind us and move on."
At 4:15 p.m. Monday, back at Ashburn, Bonner will meet Council Rock South, District 1's fourth-place qualifier, in the opening round of the state tournament. Last year, the Friars were ousted by Great Valley in the first round.
"We want to make some noise this year," said Juisti, a reserve outfielder last season. "I think, with our pitching and offense, that we have as good a shot as any other team."
Also Monday, at 3 p.m. at Neumann University in Aston, Frankford will face Conestoga, District 1's runner-up. In 2008, the Pioneers knocked off Avon Grove in the first round before losing to Hempfield, District 3's No. 3 seed.
"I absolutely love our chances to advance," Frankford coach Juan Namnun said. "I think we're playing at a good level, and our pitching has been good."
From the leadoff spot, the 6-foot, 190-pound Juisti keyed a nine-hit attack. He went 3 for 4, including an RBI triple to right-center field in the second inning.
Juisti bounced around the batting order this season before finally settling in at the top spot. "I like being the leadoff man," said the 18-year-old from Lansdowne. "I think I've been more aggressive at the plate."
Juisti, McKeone, and second baseman Dan Dougherty are headed to Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, in Media. Juisti, a running back and wide receiver in football, plans to study carpentry.
McKeone, Bonner's No. 2 starter, pitched a four-hitter with two strikeouts and two walks. A senior righthander, he mixed a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. Of his 84 pitches, 59 went for strikes.
In the third, on Joe Haley's RBI triple to right-center and Jim Murphy's RBI bunt single, the Friars went in front, 4-1. The highlight of a three-run sixth was Jim Haley's two-run single down the third-base line.
Frankford 100 000 1 - 2 4 5
Monsignor Bonner 112 003 x - 7 9 5
WP: Marty McKeone. LP: Brandon Gonzalez. 2B: F-Gonzalez, Augusto Ortega. 3B: MB-Jamie Juisti, Joe Haley.