Monsignor Bonner (Drexel Hill)’s baseball team is on one of those special tears, the kind of streaks that cause athletic directors to go rummaging through school yearbooks decades old, and make followers of the program reminisce of previous great players and great teams.
This past week, the Friars won their first Philadelphia Catholic League baseball title since the George Bush administration, the father not the son, and completed the week by winning the Philadelphia City Title (aka the District 12 Class AAAA championship). The Friars have done it with a fine mix of hitting and pitching, blowing out Archbishop Ryan (Philadelphia), 13-3, in the Catholic League championship, then easily taking care of Central, 11-4, in the city title game.
But the beauty of Bonner's run throughout this postseason is the number of players who are contributing. In the league championship on Tuesday, it was senior centerfielder Rick Reigner going 2 for 4 and driving in two runs to help the Friars win their first league championship since 1989.
Senior righthander Anthony DiGalbo notched the victory, yielding six hits over five innings, when the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule, ending with a groundout back to DiGalbo.
But it was more than just Reigner and DiGalbo. Again, the ongoing theme has been a little something from everyone, like Josh Van Horn's two-run double in the second inning, or like Steve Markus driving in three runs in the third.
Against Central in the city championship game on Thursday, it was lefty Joe Nestor getting the victory, bolstered by a Friars offense that's been averaging over 10 runs a game in the postseason. Again it was Reigner providing one of the sparks, along with Alex Liberatore, Paul Shepherd and Mike Haley, who each had two hits in the victory. Matt Ruggieri also chipped in with a two-run double in the fifth.
Now the Friars will head to their first-ever PIAA Class AAAA state playoff tournament, and the way they're pitching, playing defense, and smacking the ball around, they may cause more history to be written and an addendum to this year's yearbook before it's over.
Conestoga looking to finish unfinished business
It's been hanging over their collective heads since this time last spring — but the chance to win the first PIAA state lacrosse title was squandered last year when Conestoga (Berwyn)'s boys lacrosse team lost to Philadelphia Catholic League powerhouse La Salle in the state championship game last year. It was the Explorers who made history in becoming the first-ever boys state lacrosse champions.
Well, the Pioneers figure, if they couldn't make history in winning the first state title, what's so wrong with winning the second?
It appears as if Conestoga is on its way to another lengthy postseason run, after upping its record to 21-2 entering the state quarterfinals this weekend, plus avenging one of its two losses this season in beating Springfield (Delco), 8-4, in becoming repeat District 1 champions.
"We do have some unfinished work ahead," said Conestoga's Matt Smith after being one of seven different players to have scored goals in the Springfield victory. "First, we wanted to get back at Springfield for beating us earlier this year, and now the goal is to get back to the state championship game."
Joining Smith in the scoring column against Springfield was Peter Bowers, Richie Graf, Tyler Brooke, Tanner Scott, Brad Lord and Billy Flatley. The Pioneers have picked up their offense since the start of the season, averaging 13.8 goals game over their last nine games, which includes averaging 12.5 goals in the district playoffs.
"Things are really starting to come together for us now," Pioneers coach Brian Samson said. "Our offense in the beginning of the season you can say was a little stagnant, with some a lot of guys standing there, but now we're in a real rhythm and I like the way we're playing."
Conestoga, arguably the best non-private school lacrosse team in the country, may have a shot at even sweeter revenge on June 12, the date of the state championship in Hershey. The Pioneers look to have an easy path back to the state title game from the Eastern bracket of the state, but looming out there on the other side of the bracket is defending state champion LaSalle (Wyndmoor), which has a massive hurdle this Saturday in the state quarterfinals against Springfield.
Joseph Santoliquito covers high schools for the Philadelphia Daily News and is a contributor to MaxPreps.com. He can be contacted at JSantoliquito@yahoo.com.