Two years ago, the biggest battle for Neumann-Goretti's Joey Gorman wasn't on the baseball field. A severe case of social anxiety caused him to leave St. Joseph's Prep and enroll in a home-school curriculum.

"It kind of popped out of nowhere," said Gorman, a standout pitcher and outfielder. "I was pretty outgoing before that. When it came on, I didn't want to go to school or go out much."

Gorman, with the help of medication and cognitive behavior therapy at Temple University, has since flourished in the classroom and in social settings. His baseball never suffered.

Tuesday at sweltering Widener University, the once-shy and introverted Gorman went all eight innings, firing shutout ball over the last seven, as the Saints downed Monsignor Bonner, 3-1, and claimed their second Catholic League championship in the last three years.

The rising junior lefthander was the winning pitcher in each of the squad's three playoff games. In Saturday's semifinal vs. La Salle, he pitched the last two innings, striking out three, in a wild 18-13 triumph.

"He's such a great kid," senior teammate Mike "Zoom" Zolk said. "My sister [Erica] went through the same things he did with anxiety. That's why we're so close."

Against Bonner, the defending champion, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Gorman scattered four singles. Throwing 102 pitches, he struck out three, walked the same number, and induced nine fly-ball outs.

As a freshman, while being home-schooled, Gorman played baseball at Furness, a Public League school in South Philly. He enrolled at Neumann-Goretti last year.

In the top of the eighth, after No. 9 batter John Snyder started things with a double off the left-field fence and Bonner ace Matt Dolan intentionally walked Zolk, Gorman, on a 1-2 count, produced a perfect sacrifice bunt toward third base.

With one out, Marty Venafro (2 for 4) knocked in Snyder with a single to left. Jimmy Kerrigan (2 for 4) followed with an RBI single to right.

Dolan, a senior righthander, went 7 1/3 innings. On 127 pitches, he yielded eight hits (seven singles) and whiffed four.

"[Gorman] pitched a phenomenal game," Friars coach Joe DeBarberie said. "He gutted it out, just like our guy did."

On Thursday, at 4:15 p.m. at Ashburn Field in FDR Park, Neumann-Goretti (21-0) will vie for the District 12 Class AAA title vs. Franklin Towne Charter.

At 1:30 p.m. Friday, also at Ashburn, Bonner (16-5) will defend its Class AAAA crown against the winner of Wednesday's game between Frankford and Edison.

Neumann-Goretti   01000002 - 382

Monsignor Bonner   10000000 - 142

WP: Joey Gorman. LP: Matt Dolan. 2B: NG-John Snyder.

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com.