It took St. Edmond and Southeast Valley three different tries to complete their regular-season baseball meeting.
Saturday night's Class 2A, District 4 championship game at Rogers Park won't need the same amount of time to finish. The conclusion, though, could be every bit as compelling as the first installment.
The Gaels (15-15 overall) and Jaguars (20-6) square off at 7 p.m. here this evening, with the winner advancing to a substate final on Tuesday in Carroll. Ridge View (19-11) and Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto (17-10) are on the other side of the bracket.
Two rainouts postponed St. Edmond's eventual 9-5 victory over Southeast Valley the first time around. Because of the unusual cadence to the start-and-stop matchup, Gael head coach Joe Shanks wasn't able to take much away from the win.
''It was a strange set of circumstances, so you really have to hit the reset button for (the postseason),'' Shanks said. ''The fact of the matter is that Southeast Valley has a solid ballclub that plays well together and shows a lot of confidence. They looked good against Sioux Central (in the district semifinals), and it's going to be a challenge for us to make plays and execute with the kind of success that's needed at tournament time.
''We have to show patience at the plate and avoid defensive mistakes. I think it definitely helps being on our home field, but it also doesn't guarantee anything. We still have to be at our best if we want to advance.''
Both squads have plenty of options on the mound, as Gael senior Hank Crimmins (6-4, 2.66 ERA) and sophomore Jason Setterdahl (3-4) are the likely candidates to start. The Jaguars, who have won six straight, will likely counter with either senior Curt Castenson (6-3, 1.89) or sophomore Andrew Dorage (6-0, 1.19).
Southeast Valley is the inaugural team to introduce the consolidation of the Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster-Grand school districts. The Jaguars tied East Sac County for the Twin Lakes Conference championship.
Castenson (.403 batting average, 5 home runs, 30 RBI), freshman Myles Davis (.325, 37 runs scored), senior Clayton Taylor (.319, 5 HR, 25 RBI) and Dorage (.307, 22 RBI) lead SEV at the plate.
St. Edmond dropped seven of its final eight regular-season decisions, but the Gaels cruised past Manson Northwest Webster in their first district affair, 10-0.
Crimmins (.426, 33 RBI), Setterdahl (.359, 23 RBI) and sophomore Robert Flattery (.318) anchor the Gaels.
''I think we're building some confidence and showing improvement offensively. We've faced a tough schedule and it's prepared us well for this time of year,'' Shanks said. ''Teams know that if they want to (eliminate) us, they have to play well. I'm sure Southeast Valley feels the same way.''