In the post-game huddle surrounded by his jubiliant players, Central Catholic head coach Jeff Mielcarek told his team that they had finally accomplished something that they had tried all season to do — hit the ball.
The Fighting Irish bats banged out 10 hits to knock off fourth-ranked St. Francis de Sales 8-2 to win their first Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship on May 28, 2013 at Mercy Field in Toledo, Ohio. The upset win snapped the Knights (28-2) 26-game winning streak.
Central Catholic senior right-handed ace Jake Rudnicki struck out a season-high 13 batters while scattering six hits throughout the game. Mixing fastballs with wicked breaking balls, the Ohio University-bound Rudnicki was able to keep the St. Francis batters at bay.
“Jake was really good tonight,” Central coach Jeff Mielcarek told Toledo Blade sports writer Steve Junga. “That was the most strikeouts he had all year, and he did [it] against the best-hitting team we faced all year.”
Offensively, the Fighting Irish (16-13) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead by plating two runs in each of the first two innings. An unearned run in the fifth and three more runs in the sixth completed the scoring for Central Catholic.
“We swung it really well the first two innings, and obviously getting four runs and getting some confidence went a long way with Jake on the mound,” said Mielcarek.
The Knights got onto the scoreboard in the fourth inning and made things interestng in the bottom of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with one out. Unfortunately, St. Francis was not able to muster any of the come-from-behind heroics that had contributed to their impressive winning streak during the season and only managed to plate one additional run before Rudnicki closed the door.
When interviewed after the game Rudnicki said, “I feel very lucky. It’s a picture-perfect ending to a tough season, and I’m so happy for all the coaches and all my fellow players. I was just happy I could do my part to help the team get the win.”
Rudnicki strikes out 13 batters as Irish defeat St. Francis for TRAC title toledoblade.com 5/29/2013