After a rocky start to the season going 3-4, the players on St. Gregory the Great (Bellerose) fifth-grade boys baseball team knew that if they wanted to make the playoffs, they would have to win the majority of their remaining games. The team on to win six out of their next seven games and finished the season with a 9-5 record, which was good enough to make the playoffs in a tough division.
St. Gregs toughest test was yet to come. In the first round of the playoffs the team would be playing St. Andrews, a team St. Gregs had lost to twice before. Led by Connor Craig, who pitched a no-hitter into the fifth inning, the boys played flawless defense. With their bats hot, Bobby Dougherty went 3-for-4 with two bases-loaded triples. St. Gregorys went on to win, 10-1.
Next up was American Martyrs, which St. Gregs had not faced all season. St. Gregorys continued their hot hitting with starting pitcher Connor Craig going 3-for-4 and Jimmy McCoy setting the table by getting on base five times. Irick Baccari and Bobby Dougherty followed by getting on base four times each. Excellent fielding by shortstop Billy Xouris, who also came in to pitch and close the game, gave St. Gregorys a 10-5 victory.
St. Gregorys would then go on to face defending champion, Queen of Peace, for the Diocesan championship Saturday, June 22. The two split their two games during the season.
Behind the strong hitting of starting pitcher Bobby Dougherty, who had five RBIs, and strong hitting from third baseman Irick Baccari, second baseman James Paskor and catcher Chris OConnor, who got on base four times, St. Gregorys was on the road to victory.
Excellent pitching by Billy Xouris, who had four strong innings with six strikeouts and only one walk, gave St. Gregorys the edge they needed to win.
The defensive plays of the game started in the bottom of the third inning with a score of 8-5 in St. Gregorys favor. The lead-off hitter for Queen of Peace hit a shot past centerfielder Alex Baccari for what looked like a sure home. But Baccari did not give up, chasing the ball down and hitting relayman shortstop Billy Xouris, who made a perfect throw to catcher Chris OConnor. Both ball and runner arrived at the same time and OConnor held onto the ball to get the out.
Any thoughts of a comeback were erased in the seventh inning when the lead-off hitter for Queen of Peace got on base with a single, but was caught stealing second when he was gunned down by OConnor, who fired a strike to shortstop Jimmy McCoy at second base.
St. Gregorys went on to win 11-5 for their first Diocesan championship win.
This would not have been possible had it not been for a team effort all season long by all players. An outfield platoon of Alex Baccari, Omer Brown, Brendan Burke, James Haran, Kevin Hernandez and Kris Sweetman, all of whom contributed with steady play, strong hitting and game-saving catches during this tough season.
A versatile infield of Billy Xouris, Jimmy McCoy, James Paskor, Chris OConnor, Irick Baccari, Connor Craig and Bobby Dougherty also made this season one to remember.
©2002 Community News Group
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