Cathedral Catholic outlasts rival St. Augustine in 10 innings, claims share of Western League title

Cathedral's Cody Nitowitz
Cathedral’ Catholic’s Cody Nitowitz (2) celebrates scoring a run during Thursday’s win over rival St. Augustine.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Cole Thomson’s RBI single gives Dons tiebreaker win over Patriots after winning both regular-season games


Anytime St. Augustine and Cathedral Catholic meet in any sport, it’s a big deal.

But with the Western League baseball championship on the line, playoff implications and a large crowd on hand, Thursday’s game at Cathedral Catholic was even bigger.

Fittingly, the Saints and Dons battled for 10 innings before Cole Thomson’s RBI single to right scored Vincent Venverloh, who led off the inning with a walk, handing Cathedral Catholic a hard-fought 4-3 win and a share of the Western League title with Patrick Henry.

The No. 9-ranked Dons (19-8, 8-4) can boast championship rights by virtue of two wins over Henry.

“This means everything,” said Venverloh. “We knew we had to sweep a three-game series from Saints this week. And we did that. But the first two wins wouldn’t have mattered if we let this one get away.”

In addition to scoring the winning run, Venverloh was also the winning pitcher, coming on in relief in the sixth inning, allowing just an unearned run over the final five innings.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Venverloh drove in the tying run.

“We were running out of sunlight, so we had to get it done in the 10th,” Venverloh said.

“Leading off, I was looking for any way I could get on base.

“As the pitcher, I was just trying to get guys out. I’m not overpowering, so I was looking for outs any way I could get them.”

Cathedral players celebrate beating St. Augustine in 10 innings.
Cathedral players celebrate beating St. Augustine in 10 innings.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Venerloh was also the star of Cathedral’s win Tuesday, driving in three.

Thomson, who had two hits before his game-winner, said he has never had a bigger hit.

“I was looking for a fastball, and I got it,” said Thomson, a left-handed hitter. “It was over the plate and a little low. I did what I needed to do. We’re league champs, and it feels great. This is what we set out to do as a team when the season started.”

Cathedral Catholic is a Division 2 in the playoffs, which will be seeded Saturday.

The Dons and Montgomery will be seeded one-two in some order.

St. Augustine (16-10, 5-7) is ranked No. 7 in the county and is an Open/Division 1 team, battling Santana and La Jolla Country Day for the last two spots in the Open Division.

“It doesn’t matter what’s on the line when St. Augustine and Cathedral play,” said Saints coach Craig da Luz.

“We bring out the best in each other. Rivalries are what makes sports great. And this is a great rivalry.”

Cathedral players pause to watch a hot air balloon traverse overhead during their game against St. Augustine.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Dons coach Gary Remiker said it was fitting the rivals were playing each other in the final league game of the season.

“There could be nothing on the line, and this would be a big game,” he said.

“We were playing for a league championship. And Saints wanted nothing more than to keep us from winning it.

“We knew at the start of the week we had to sweep three games from a very good team. And we got it done. Pitching and defense got us through this week. And most certainly a big, clutch hit today.”