Since adding John Curtis for the 2015-16 school year to give District 9-5A its current list of member schools, no program other than the Patriots has known the joy that comes from a Catholic League baseball title. But with just one week remaining, that’s about to change for at least one local baseball program.
Entering Monday, three teams still held at least a sliver of a chance at holding a share of the district title when league play ends Thursday, with the release of the postseason baseball brackets coming on Sunday. The heavy favorites, Jesuit, hold their title fates in their hands, with a series sweep of Rummel in the teams’ matchups on Tuesday and Thursday enough to clinch a 10-2 district mark and remain at least one game clear of their nearest competitor, and all but locking up the No. 1 seed in the Division I playoffs.
But even against Rummel, with a 4-6 district mark, the title is far from in the Blue Jays’ grasp yet.
“In this district, you know every game is going to be a dogfight,” Jesuit coach Kenny Goodlett said. “Every team is going to be good. Every team is going to have an ace, and you’re always going to get their best. You expect that every game, and we look forward to it. We like the challenge.”
Jesuit dropped two of its four games last week in a pair of one-run losses to three-time defending district champs John Curtis and a final at-bat homer loss to Holy Cross.
Still, the Blue Jays’ 6-0 start to district action, sweeping Brother Martin, St. Augustine and Shaw helped build a lead that might end up too large for its competitors to overcome. A pair of victories this week would ensure the team’s first title since 2015, when the league was comprised of the other six teams, minus Curtis.
Should Jesuit drop one of its two games with the Raiders, though, they are still guaranteed at least a share of a championship. The Blue Jays and Brother Martin, who entered Catholic League play atop the Division I power rankings and sits in second place in the district at 7-3, would share a title with a Jesuit loss and a Crusaders’ sweep of St. Augustine in the teams’ games Tuesday and Thursday.
Even the Patriots hold a slim chance of title hopes, should the two teams in front of them falter. We could see a two — or even three-way tie — for first if Curtis manages to sweep Holy Cross this week in their pair of games, and if Rummel sweeps Jesuit along with Brother Martin losing at least once to the Purple Knights.
In a playoff classification with just 13 teams, meaning three teams get byes into the quarterfinals, jockeying for playoff position in this final week will be key, and little holds more weight than the victors of the hardest-fought district title.
“Catholic League baseball is a proud tradition," Goodlett said. "Every single player on our team takes great pride in being part of Jesuit baseball, being part of this league, being a part of great rivalries and knowing that you’re get the best for 12 games. You’re going to have to earn it and we’re going to go out there and try to win this thing.”