Losing the coin toss might have been the best thing that happened for Pacelli on Saturday afternoon.
It forced the Vikings to be the visitor in the deciding game of the Class A first-round series against Turner County.
The Vikings scored five times before the Rebels got a chance to bat and cruised to a 14-4 mercy-rule shortened victory in five innings.
“It's all the difference in the world playing with a 5-0 lead,” Pacelli coach Chris Leak said. “It's a lot easier to swing the bat.”
The Vikings, who have advanced to the quarterfinals the last two seasons, will host Baconton Charter, a first-round winner over Claxton, on Wednesday.
Playing a third game is becoming a regular occurrence for Pacelli. The Vikings (23-3) won the deciding game of the first round for the third straight season Saturday. They beat Lanier County 7-6 last year and Portal 16-6 in 2006.
“The week-long layoff really hurt us,” Leak said. “When you are riding a 19-game winning streak, you want to keep playing. You certainly don't anticipate losing, but it was good for us to play three games.”
The Vikings wasted little time before it took the lead Saturday. After a lead-off walk, Charles Rossi singled to drive in the game's first run. Matthew Rossi and Michael O'Neal both added a two-run double in the inning as Pacelli took a 5-0 lead.
Pacelli continued to score runs in the second inning as almost everyone in the lineup contributed. Stuart Wilkerson, who went 4-for-4 with three runs scored, had an RBI single in the three-run second inning.
Matthew Rossi capped the inning with a two-run home run that barely cleared the wall in right field.
“The first inning was really big for us,” Matthew Rossi said. “It was important to get ahead and it gives you the momentum in the game. It allowed us to make a statement.”
Matthew Rossi needed a triple to hit for the cycle, but he still had outstanding afternoon at the plate for the Vikings. He was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBIs. Cooper Martin and Quincy Williams both drove in two runs for the Vikings.
Pacelli starter Charles Rossi didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning. He gave up a double and single to start the inning. Two batters later, Richard Wheeler hit a three-run home run to center field, cutting the lead to 8-4.
Charles Rossi, who picked up his second win in the series, went five innings and allowed three hits while striking out four.
Pacelli responded in its next at-bat, scoring six times to help put the mercy rule into effect. Pacelli opened the inning with three straight singles before Martin drove in two with a double.
Saturday at Pacelli Pacelli 530/06/-- 14/15/2 Turner County 000/40 - 4/3/1 WP - Charles Rossi LP - Jeremy Stevenson Hitting leaders: Pacelli - Stuart Wilkerson 4-4, 3 R, RBI; Matthew Rossi 3-4, 2B, HR, 4 RBIs, 3 R; Michael O'Neal 1-2, 2B, 2 RBIs; Conner Martin 1-1, 2B, 2 RBIs; Quincy Williams 1-1, 2 RBI; Ryan Redd 2-3, R; Turner County - Jeremy Stevenson 1-3, 2B, R; Justin Moore 1-1, RBI; Richard Wheeler 1-2, HR, 3 RBIs.