Timothy Rice didn't start a game for almost three weeks until he was inserted into the starting lineup for a deciding Game 3 championship Tuesday.
Rice found himself in an 0-and-2 hole with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh inning. He worked the count to 2-and-2 before fouling off several pitches.
Then, Rice showed no rust, delivering a two-run single for the go-ahead runs as No. 2 Holy Trinity beat No. 1 St. Anthony's, 9-7, in the CHSAA baseball finals at St. John the Baptist.
"I tried to go opposite field," Rice said. "It was a fastball outside. I was looking for it. I got a hold of it and was fortunate."
Why did coach Bob Malandro play Rice? "I smartened up," he said. "We put him in on a hunch. He's the hero of the game. It was a tremendous at-bat."
John Parenty went 4-for-5 with a home run to lead off the game, two RBIs and a stolen base for Holy Trinity (18-9), which won the title for the second time in three seasons. Joseph DeVito added two RBIs, Patrick Madigan had two doubles and an RBI and Tyler Kapela had an RBI and two walks.
The top of the seventh began with a walk to Anthony Rosati. Madigan doubled and Peter Scacco was hit by a pitch to load the bases before DeVito walked to tie it at 7. After a failed squeeze play and a strikeout, Rice came through.
Parenty had an RBI single in the sixth to bring the Titans within 7-6. HT led most of the game before St. Anthony's (17-10) took the lead in the fourth. Steve Giustino drove in a run with a single and Michael D'Acunti hit a two-out, two-run double to give St. Anthony's a 6-5 lead. The Friars added another run in the fifth on a suicide squeeze bunt single from Matthew Costleigh to make it 7-5.
"Both teams kept fighting," Malandro said. "I am proud of both teams."
Kapela pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, including a scoreless sixth and seventh.
"Once we started the season, it was championship or bust," Parenty said. "We accomplished our goal."