WATCH VIDEO | Radkowski's inside-the-park homer sparks Bishop McCort in 1A playoff win over DuBois Central Catholic

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – With his team trailing by a run, Bishop McCort Catholic’s Erik Radkowski stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second inning of Monday’s PIAA Class 1A first-round playoff game against DuBois Central Catholic.

It was the sophomore catcher’s first at-bat in the PIAA playoffs, and he made quite an impression as he launched a solo inside-the-park home run to the deepest part of the field at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point in downtown Johnstown.

It was a turning point in the game, as the Crimson Crushers carved out a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Cardinals to advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 1A tournament.

“It was 1-1, so I was sitting fastball and squared it up really good,” Radkowski said. “I saw my coach rounding me at third, and just had to bust out as fast as I could and turned the jets on.”

The play evened the score at 1, and the District 6 champs eventually broke away from DuBois Central Catholic with runs in the third and sixth innings.

“We talked about opposite-field approaches all year,” said Bishop McCort coach Chris Pfeil. “He got one in the deep part of the gap, and he turned it on and it was a great baseball play, bang-bang at the plate. But that run really sparked us, and it gave us a lot of confidence, and we were able to tack on a couple and get some breathing room and played great defense.”

Bishop McCort found itself in an early 1-0 hole as DuBois Central Catholic snuck up on ace pitcher Mason Pfeil.

Aiden Snowberger led off the game with a base hit, stole second and eventually came home on a sacrifice fly by Carter Himes to build the early advantage for the District 9 squad.

It proved to be the only success the Cardinals mustered against Mason Pfeil. He went all seven innings, struck out eight batters, walked one and scattered three hits.

“He gave up a hit to start the game, and their leadoff hitter (Snowberger) is a great hitter and put that run across the board, and then he really just beared down and picked them apart,” Chris Pfeil said of his son’s performance. “His off-speed was really, really good tonight, and Erik Radkowski caught a great game for him.”

DuBois Central Catholic starter Snowberger went toe to toe with Mason Pfeil for much of the game. He struck out seven over five innings.

“Aiden is always good. He’s a competitor,” DuBois Central Catholic coach Adam Fox said.

“Our pitching has been good all year. We’ve struggled with consistency, just with scoring runs, and it’s kind of the same thing as it’s always been. All year with us, we’ve been up and down with the bats and just didn’t get enough today.”

Bishop McCort, now 13-0 in PIAA first-round games, manufactured a run in the third as Bradyn Jarvis walked and Brock Beppler doubled to left to put runners on second and third.

Mason Pfeil then helped his own cause with a bloop base hit to make it 2-1.

The Crimson Crushers were in cruise control with sharp pitching and some superb defense. Beppler tracked down a deep fly ball late in the game to keep the base paths clean.

Bishop McCort had a chance to really add some insurance runs with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the sixth, but only plated one run in that sequence.

It ultimately did not matter, as Pfeil allowed a leadoff single in the seventh before retiring the next three batters quietly to punch the Crimson Crushers’ ticket to the quarterfinals. They will face Southern Fulton at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Mount Aloysius College.

Prior to the season, Bishop McCort and Southern Fulton scrimmaged, which should bring some familiarity to the state quarterfinal rematch. Southern Fulton beat District 3 champion Mount Calvary Christian 11-1.

“They’re a great program,” Chris Pfeil said of his team’s next challenge.

“They’ve been consistently in the state playoffs making runs, and we look forward to the opportunity and we’ll be ready.”