Crouse Construction wins semi-pro baseball championship

September 06, 1992|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

For Crouse Construction's semi-pro baseball team, it doesn't get much better than beating Cecil Johnies. But it does get better.

After dispensing with archrival Johnies in the Northern Division playoffs, Crouse went on to win the Maryland Semi-Pro Baseball League Championship, three games to one, over the Parkville Royals.

An 11-2 victory Wednesday night at Thomas Run Park gave Crouse its first league title since 1988 -- the year before two-time defending champ Johnies joined the league.

If winning the league championship is a 10, on a scale of 1 to 10, beating Johnies is a 9.99.

"Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, everybody knows Johnies and us are the best two teams in the league," said Crouse outfielder Eddie Fuller. "It would have been even better for us if it could have been Johnies [in the league championship]."

Over the past four years, Crouse and Johnies have waged a small war in the Northern Division. Tempers often flare on the field, and almost every game includes some controversy.

The deciding game of this year's division series, however, was clear cut. Crouse won, 6-2, helped along by three Johnies errors on Aug. 29 at the Johnies' field in North East.

The best-of-five series for the league championship started the next day. But Crouse stumbled, 11-9, against the Southern Division champ Parkville Royals.

"It just woke us up," said outfielder Ricky Lester. "Coming off the win over Johnies, I think we expected to just roll over anybody. Playing against Johnies, you get so pumped up. When we beat them, and that in itself was a relief, it was hard getting pumped up for Parkville."

Lester said everyone on the team needed a reminder that they still could lose.

"I know I reminded myself of it," said Fuller, who played for Johnies' division champion teams in 1990-1991. "I remember last year when we won [the Northern Division over Crouse], we lost it to Overlea in the championship. I think the same kind of thing happened to us in the first game this year. You kind of think you're just going to win."

Crouse bounced back in a hurry, winning Monday night's game, 3-2 in eight innings, thanks to Lester and winning pitcher Charlie Pritchett.

Lester sparked all the offensive fireworks, going 3-4, including a solo homer. In the bottom of the seventh inning, he tripled and scored the tying run on Dan Oldendick's single. Lester's bases-loaded single in the eighth gave Crouse the win.

In game three, Fuller hit the first pitch of the game over the fence at Thomas Run Park en route to an 11-1 Crouse romp. Lester and Chuck Harmon also homered.

Ken Batten had a two-run homer in the 11-2 deciding game.

Pritchett won the second and fourth games of the series -- both in relief. The victories gave him a 15-0 record for the year.

All season, Crouse has had a good combination of strong pitching and potent offense. In addition to the home-run hitters, Crouse has relied on solid contributions from everyone in the lineup.

The top four guys -- Fuller, Dave Hughes, Tom Mistysyn and Lester -- have gotten on base often and used their speed to steal. But the guys in the five-through-nine spots, usually Harmon, Oldendick, Batten, Mike Hughes and

Sean Cox, have come through, too.

"From one through nine, we do have a strong team," said Fuller. "Even when we play Johnies, there are guys on their team comparable to our two or three best players, but after that, we were much better through the lineup."

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