For St. Genevieve Coach Dave Galarneau it was a reprieve. For Harvard Coach Jim Brink it was his worst nightmare realized.
Harvard, needing only to beat Santa Fe League rival St. Genevieve to clinch third place and an automatic berth in the Southern Section 1-A playoffs, lost, 6-2, Friday at Franklin Field.
The victory enables St. Genevieve to complete the league season tied with Harvard and forces a playoff Saturday at Chaminade High to determine the league's final representative in postseason play.
Bell-Jeff defeated Pater Noster, 8-1, Friday to eliminate Pater Noster from the playoff picture. Bell-Jeff finished second in the league.
St. Genevieve broke open a 2-2 tie with four unearned runs in the sixth inning to win it.
"I am completely overjoyed," Galarneau said, "especially after beating Harvard under this kind of pressure. I'm very proud of my team. We've scrambled all year with a very young ballclub. Hopefully, a win like this will mature them."
At least Galarneau has the luxury of fielding a complete team for today's playoff. Not so for Brink, who will be without three front-line players. Starting outfielders Andrew Sikking and Marty Holly and pitcher Bret Osterberg left after Friday's game to catch a plane for Denver, where they will participate in a national rugby tournament.
"It's certainly the worst scenario, isn't it?" Brink said. "We were all planning on winning today. We beat them 10-3 the last time and we were at full strength today. It forces us to play more baseball to get into the playoffs when a win would have gotten us there today.
"We'll be down to three of our five regular pitchers," Brink added. "But we've got some athletes who wouldn't mind jumping out there on the hill and we might have to see what they can do."
Sikking (3-4), who gave up only one hit--a leadoff single by Frank Aguirre--in the decisive sixth, admitted his reluctance about having to honor his rugby commitment.
"It's going to be hard going to Denver after a loss like this," Sikking said. "Our No. 4 hitter and No. 2 pitcher are going with me. We still have a chance, but it will be harder."
After Aguirre singled in the sixth, Harvard second baseman Gary Nudell booted a double play grounder by Dan Alvarez. Joe Cascione, 2 for 2 at that point, tried to sacrifice the runners, but Sikking fielded the bunt cleanly and forced Aguirre at third. After walking Jose De La Cruz to load the bases, Sikking struck out opposing pitcher Mike Rohrbough, but the ball bounced away from catcher Tim Rath, allowing Alvarez to score what proved to be the winning run.
Harvard's defense took itself--and Sikking--out of the ballgame two batters later. After a walk to Pat Chavez filled the bases, left fielder Charles Patton dropped a routine fly ball by St. Genevieve's Al Gutierrez and three more runs crossed the plate.
"I was definitely disappointed with our defense," Brink said. "We also didn't hit like we can. Mike Rohrbough kept us in check real well."
Rohrbough (6-2) held Harvard to three hits, walking two and striking out seven. Harvard scored an unearned run in the third to take a 1-0 lead. After St. Genevieve tied the score on an RBI single by Cascione in the fourth, Rohrbough served up a home run ball to Will Sellman for a 2-1 Harvard lead.
Rohrbough walked to start the St. Genevieve fifth and eventually scored on a Gutierrez single.