Given a second chance to all but assure a berth in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, Camden Catholic took care of business Friday.
The Irish scored two runs in the seventh inning to win at Seneca, 7-5, in an Olympic National baseball game and, in all likelihood, clinch the division's invitation to the prestigious South Jersey baseball tournament.
Pairings for the 40th annual tournament will be released Sunday evening. Ten teams will receive automatic bids, and six will make it as at-large selections. First-round play will begin May 11.
Camden Catholic coach Bob Bergholtz said that he didn't want to celebrate until he got the official word, but that it would be a "tremendous honor" to make the field.
"Most South Jersey high school baseball programs have this as their goal when they start the season," Bergholtz said.
It was certainly on the mind of the Irish this week.
With three games on the schedule, they had a chance to end the drama with two wins. But an 11-7 setback to Cherry Hill West on Wednesday gave pause to the pursuit.
Things remained in doubt Friday. After opening a 4-0 lead, Seneca chipped away to tie it, 4-4, in the fourth inning. The game went to the seventh tied, 5-5.
Ben Acero singled to score the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh, and Shawn Stone drove in an insurance run. Acero pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.
An appearance in the Diamond Classic would be the fourth in school history for Camden Catholic. The Irish won the inaugural tournament in 1974, and made the field again in 1997. They haven't been back since 2007.
It's not easy to qualify from the rugged Olympic Conference, but Bergholtz hopes the gap between appearances isn't so long next time.
"We are hoping to change that trend," Bergholtz said.
In other Olympic Conference play:
Washington Township senior first baseman Shaine Hughes had a big afternoon, and the host Minutemen beat Bishop Eustace, 13-3, in an interdivision game. Hughes went 4 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs, and two runs scored. Washington Township is ranked fifth in South Jersey by The Inquirer. Dom DeAngelo held third-ranked Bishop Eustace to five hits.
Catcher Michael Pierce went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, and visiting Cherry Hill East downed Timber Creek, 11-4. Zach Steinbock homered for the Lions.
Tri-County Diamond. Gloucester Catholic tuned up for its Saturday night showdown with St. Joseph of Montvale by beating visiting Schalick, 11-1. Freshman Tyler Mondile, a lefthanded batter playing third base, went 2 for 3 with a home run, double, two RBIs, and a run scored. Anthony Harrold also homered for The Inquirer's No. 1-ranked team.
Tri-County Classic. Andrew Boulden came on for a three-inning save to nail down Gloucester's 8-2 win at Wildwood. Rob Cordero had two hits, including a double, and drove in three runs. Winning pitcher Bobby Girgenti also doubled.
Burlington Tournament. Kyle Kafer threw seven innings of two-hit ball, and Bordentown blanked host Florence, 10-0. Kafer struck out six and walked four. Clarke Laba went 3 for 4 and scored twice, and Joe Cashman was 2 for 3 with two runs scored.
Burlington Liberty. Zack Gakeler threw a complete game as host Northern Burlington routed eighth-ranked Rancocas Valley, 13-3. Gakeler struck out nine and allowed just one run after the first inning.
Cape-Atlantic National. Doug Schwartz starred at the plate and on the mound for Middle Township in a 12-2 defeat of visiting Wildwood Catholic. Schwartz earned the win, and went 3 for 5 with four RBIs.
Nonleague. Donovan Casey went the distance, striking out seven and allowing three hits, as Sterling topped host Pitman, 8-0. JT Harding doubled and drove in two runs.
Burlington Township scored four runs in the second inning and fended off visiting Haddon Heights, 10-4. Isaiah Hall tripled.
Atlantic City scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to knock off Lenape, 4-3. Murray Kanter earned the win.
Junior Alex Forte struck out eight and surrendered just two hits in Willingboro's 13-1 win at Cinnaminson.