Holy Spirit Caps Improbable Season

by Marc Narducci | Jun 12, 2015
Holy Spirit Caps Improbable Season Holy Spirit Caps Improbable Baseball Season With State Title

Of all the improbable stories of the South Jersey spring sports season, it would be hard to top what Holy Spirit’s baseball team accomplished and the manner in which it was done.

Calling the Spartans an unlikely state champion wouldn’t be exaggerating. Calling them a deserving champ would also be accurate.

Holy Spirit got hot at the most opportune time and never cooled off during the state tournament. The Spartans capped their season with a 9-4 win over Newark Academy in the state Non-Public B championship at Toms River North.

Sophomore Billy Kral earned the win by allowing one run in six innings. Centerfielder Anthony Boselli went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

Why was this so improbable that Holy Spirit won the title?
Simply because the Spartans finished its season with a 14-16 record.
That’s right a sub .500 team earned the state title.

What it showed was a number of things.

First off, Holy Spirit plays in the Cape Atlantic League American Conference. For instance, the Spartans had two games each with Mainland and St. Augustine, two of South Jersey’s top 15 teams. Two of those losses were one-run defeats, one to each team. So the difficult regular season schedule got the Spartans ready for the postseason.

One of the most impressive regular season wins was a 2-1 triumph over Group 4 Cherokee. Still, the Spartans entered the tournament 9-13 (they would lose a non-playoff game to Millville while competing in the states).

Seeded 10th in the South Jersey field, the Spartans opened with an 8-1 win over Cape opponent St. Joseph’s of Hammonton, the No. 7 seed. Sophomore Bobby Spicer earned the win, allowing just two hits and striking out 11, while senior Chris Lefferts was 2 for 4 with a home run and four RBI.

Next up was a 2-1 nail-biter over No. 2 seeded St. Rose of Belmar. Kral and Tommy Burns each had RBIs and Spicer pitched a five-hitter. In the semifinal, Spirit defeated No. 6 Gill St. Bernards, 10-0. Kral struck out nine in six innings.

This game was close for a long time. Neither team had scored entering the fifth inning when Spirit scored three runs. Burns and senior A.J. Russo each had three RBI.

The Spartans then won the South Jersey title game with a 7-1 win over No. 4 Marist. Spicer pitched a six-hitter and had six strikeouts. A three-run first inning triple by Boselli was the big hit for Holy Spirit.

So the Spartans had to win four games on the road against higher seeded teams to earn the South Jersey championship.

And then they won the state title and had a total turnaround from a 1-7 start.

The beauty of the single-elimination state tournament is that a team can get on a roll and advance a long way. That obviously happened with Holy Spirit, a team that quite frankly was an afterthought at the beginning of the state tournament, and the last one standing at the end.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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