With the marathon of an ILH baseball season nearly behind them, the Saint Louis Crusaders are staring directly at the double-elimination playoffs.
Then again, with a 12-day break, Crusaders coach George Gusman decided to make the most of it. His team will play in the inaugural Bishop Gorman All-Catholic Classic in Las Vegas, which begins on Monday and concludes Thursday.
Saint Louis (17-5, 12-3 ILH) is ranked No. 3 in the Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10 and is the only Hawaii team in the eight-team field, which includes teams from Illinois, Utah, New Jersey and California. Saint Louis will play four games, starting with St. Rita (Ill.). St. Rita (10-0) is “on the bubble” in MaxPreps’ national coverage.
“I hope we didn’t bite off more than we can chew, but we hope this gives the kids some exposure. We’ll play everybody,” Gusman said.
On Tuesday, the Crusaders battle Juan Diego (Utah), then will play host Bishop Gorman on Wednesday. On Thursday, the pools will intersect and games will also be played at the College of Southern Nevada. The opposing bracket is comprised of De La Salle (Calif.), Don Bosco (N.J.), St. Laurence (Ill.) and Marian Catholic (Ill.).
St. Laurence (13-0) is ranked No. 10 nationally by MaxPreps. In the USA Today rankings, the Vikings are No. 20 nationally and No. 1 in the Midwest Region. De La Salle is another “bubble” team on the Maxpreps radar.
If it sounds unusual that a team from the islands is jet-setting at this point of the season, Gusman understands.
“They sent me an invitation. The ILH signed off on it,” he said.
Versatile Caleb Lomavita leads Saint Louis in batting (.548) and is second in RBIs (13). Austin Texeira has registered a team-high 14 RBIs, and Cole Kashimoto has a team-high 16 runs scored.
Richie Vidal III is 4-0 on the mound with a 3.56 ERA for the Crusaders. Lomavita, who started as a freshman at catcher, has a 3-1 record and 2.94 ERA. JT Navyac is 2-0 with two saves in five appearances.
Saint Louis players have worked a variety of fundraisers, including set-up at a Bruno Mars concert. Alumni have also supported the cause.
“We are grateful for this opportunity,” Gusman said.
Saint Louis finished second in ILH play. The Division I playoffs will begin on Apr. 20, two days after the Crusaders return from Las Vegas. They will meet Pac-Five at Ala Wai Park at noon.