The top-ranked and top-seeded Newman Catholic Knights moved a step closer to a third straight state title with a 10-0 five-inning victory over fourth-seeded Don Bosco in the Class 1A semifinals Thursday at Principal Park. The Knights (37-3) will seek their eighth state title overall as they advance to Saturday’s championship game.
Josh Fitzgerald went 4-for-4 with three RBIs to lead Newman. He had two triples and a double — all to deep left-center — in addition to a bunt single. The 8-9 hitters — Doug Taylor and George Schmit — both went 2-for-3.
Evan Paulus (8-1) went the distance for Newman. He allowed four hits, struck out five and walked one.
Newman jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first on a lead-off triple by Fitzgerald, an RBI single by Merritt McCardle and a balk.
The Knights added two more runs in the second on a double by Taylor, an RBI triple by Fitzgerald and a RBI double by Max Burt. An intentional walk and hit batter followed, but Newman left the bases loaded.
Newman padded its lead to 7-0 with three runs in the fourth. A lead-off single by Schmit, a bunt single by Fitzgerald set the stage for runs to score on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Jacob Schutt. The Knights left the bases loaded for the second time — a total of nine LOB for the game.
The Knights ended the game with three runs in the fifth. Taylor and Schmit led off with singles, and both scored on a double by Fitzgerald. The game ended on a walk-off bases-loaded walk.
The Dons put the lead-off man on base in each of the first three innings but never capitalized.
The Knights are in the title game for the 12th time. Newman has won 35 state tournament games — second only to Assumption.
The Dons — ranked sixth in the final poll — end the season at 29-5.