For the first time since the league was formed, the Cardinals have a shot at the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament championship. Granted, Ireton is playing third-seeded DeMatha in the Thursday title game, but frankly, the Cardinals weren’t even supposed to make it thus far.
Under WCAC Coach of the Year Mike Gallagher, as announced by the league’s coaches on Monday, Ireton reeled off consecutive upset wins to reach the title game. After two one-run losses to Bishop O’Connell in the regular season, the Cardinals edged the Knights, 6-5, despite losing their coach prematurely.
Gallagher, a former Hayfield head coach who now runs Dominion Baseball Academy, got tossed for arguing a call.
In the semifinal, junior second baseman Frankie Zare blasted the eventual game-winner over top-seeded Paul VI during the semifinal game late Tuesday evening. The Cardinals scored the game-tying run on a Panther error.
Ireton senior left-hander Kevin O'Keefe combined with John Robertson to notch the win.
The championship will be at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Shirley Povich Field in Rockville, Md. After the Cardinals girls lacrosse team hosts a semifinal WCAC playoff home at home, school officials are planning on getting a bus to transport students. Cardinal fans are encouraged to wear red shirts.
Ireton, who is on a season-high three game winning streak, is making its first league baseball championship game appearance since the WCAC formed in the early 1990s. The Cardinals were swept by DeMatha, a 20-6 winner over fourth-seeded St. John's on Tuesday in two games during the regular season. The Stags (16-10) won 2-1 on the road, and 10-0 at home. DeMatha, who had their first-team all-WCAC aces on the mound over consecutive nights, last won the title in 2003.