STATE COLLEGE — District 9 goes for its fourth state baseball championship Friday afternoon when the Elk County Catholic Crusaders meet the District 1 champion Devon Prep Tide at Penn State University’s Medlar Field at 3:30 p.m.
The 26-0 Crusaders advanced to the finals for the first time in team history with a 1-0 win over Bishop McCort Monday in Punxsutawney. Meanwhile, 15-8 Devon Prep advanced with a 4-0 win over District 11 champion Schuylkill Haven.
Friday’s pitching matchup appears to have Prep’s No. 1 hurler in junior Pat Rohr ready to go. He’s 8-2 in 12 appearances with a 1.25 earned run average with 62 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Rohr entered the season as the team’s No. 3 starter, but he’s moved up the ladder. One big reason was an elbow injury to staff ace Zach Schellenger, a Seton Hall recruit who pitched in just three games this spring. Last year, he was 6-1 with a 0.86 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings.
Rohr hasn’t pitched since last Thursday’s 12-1 win over Canton. He tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts and no walks. He’s allowed just one earned run in his last 19 innings on the mound.
The question for the Crusaders will be the status of ace Brandon Schlimm, who threw 119 pitches in his four-hit shutout of Bishop McCort Monday. The St. Bonaventure recruit is certainly eligible to go if able and he’s 11-0 with a 0.98 ERA with a whopping 125 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
Look for Ryan Childs to be a factor on the mound for some duration if head coach Father Eric Vogt thinks Schlimm can’t go the distance. Childs isn’t too shabby either. He’s 7-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 innings. He’s threw two innings in each of the Crusaders’ state playoff wins against Carmichaels and Sewickley Academy, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six.
In the state playoffs, Schlimm leads the Crusaders with a .571 average (4-for-7), including a triple that led to the only run in ECC’s win on Monday. Leftfielder Brad Dippold is hitting .444 (4-for-9). Another St. Bonaventure recruit, rightfielder Ivan Wortman, is hitting .333 (3-for-9) in the state playoffs. Shortstop Dan Singer is batting .375 (3-for-8).
The Tide are led offensively by junior catcher Dom Hardaway, a Boston College recruit who’s hitting .439 with 10 doubles and 28 runs batted in. He had two hits and drove in two runs in Monday’s win. Sophomore second baseman Tony Gallo is hitting .422 and University of Pennsylvania recruit Sean Phelan, a junior, is hitting .359 with three home runs and 29 RBIs.
District 1 has won three Class A state titles since four classifications were started in 2005, all of them by Christopher Dock in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
D9 BASEBALL TEAMS IN THE STATE FINALS
Johnsonburg 5, Canton 0
Punxsutawney 5, Marple Newtown 4 (District 1)
Minersville 4, Johnsonburg 1
DuBois CC 8, Camp Hill 7
Montoursville 4, DuBois 1
Old Forge 15, Ridgway 5, 6 innings