By TOM WILLIAMS
After Ursuline left fielder Paul Pegues caught a fly ball for the final out, senior catcher David Rossi congratulated sophomore pitcher Dominic Gore for tossing the Irish’s first no-hitter in 10 years.
Gore’s eyes widened as a smile spread across his face after Thursday’s 7-0 victory over Girard in the Division III sectional final.
Asked later if he realized that the second-seeded Indians (20-7) had no hits, Gore admitted he knew but he didn’t want to jinx it by celebrating too soon.
“I didn’t want to boost my chances of messing it up,” said Gore who once threw a one-hitter in Little League.
Ursuline coach Sean Durkin is anticipating the Irish’s return to district competition, especially since six of his nine fielders were freshmen and sophomores.
“It’s been a process, no question, but we have a lot of talented kids,” Durkin said. “As you expect from a young team, we’ve gotten a lot better from the beginning of the year.”
Gore (3-2) walked five batters, but stranded two of them at third base and another at second.
“I was excited but I kept telling myself not to get overexcited,” the first-year high school baseball player said of his strategy as the game progressed. “When you have a defense like that behind you ... they had my back the whole way.”
Third baseman Harrison Finelli, one of the Irish’s four freshmen infielders, twice charged hard and made strong throws to record outs at first.
“That’s the best that Dominic has pitched this year and it was in the most important situation,” Durkin said. “We want to have our pitchers to have the fortitude to come through in big situations and obviously that’s what he did today.”
The victory sent Ursuline (13-14) to a district semifinal game next Wednesday at Cene Park and extends the varsity careers of senior starters David Rossi (catcher) and Jeff Podolsky (center fielder).
“Obviously, we’re really young,” Podolsky said. “In the beginning of the year, it was a little difficult.
“But these guys, they’re not freshmen any more. They’ve grown up a lot and we’re playing real good baseball right now,” Podolsky said. “It feels great.”
“It’s always nice to make it back to districts and that the run is not over for us yet,” Rossi said. “This baseball team has a real great tradition.”
Podolsky credited Gore for throwing a lot of strikes.
“When pitchers are doing that, it gives you a lot of confidence out in the field,” Podolsky said. “When balls come your way, you’re not so nervous.”
Girard starting pitcher Patrick Rhodes (5-1) retired the first six Irish batters.
“He threw strikes, he came right after us,” said Durkin of Rhodes. “He had us off-balance enough that we weren’t hitting very hard, but we got a couple of timely hits with runners in scoring position.”
Gore doubled to lead off the third inning and scored on Pete Garthwaite’s single. Anthony Rohan followed with a RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
Podolsky’s one-out walk in the fifth inning preceded Rossi’s double and Finelli’s two-run single for a 4-0 advantage.
Podolsky’s two-run triple helped the Irish iced the game with a three-run seventh inning.
The Irish have come far since an 0-4 start when they were no-hit twice.
“That stung a little bit,” Podolsky said. “Seeing how we were in the beginning of the year, not knowing exactly [what] our identity was, it just feels great to know we’re moving on the districts.”