For St. Paul's, the MIAA B Conference tournament was a chance to send a message.
After breezing through the regular season with just two losses, the Crusaders wanted to prove they were as worthy as any team in the metro area, and that message was delivered loud and clear yesterday as they swept their way to a second straight conference title with a 13-3 victory over St. Mary's in a five-inning game.
The Crusaders were the only team to go unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament and outscored their opponents, 36-6, with all three of their games shortened by the 10-run rule.
"We have high expectations and I expected this kind of performance," said St. Paul's coach Paul Bernstorf. "In fact, one of the things we wanted to do was to 10-run everybody in the playoffs to kind of send a message that we are a pretty good team."
Senior Alton Hill had three hits for St. Paul's (19-2), and Chris Horich, Jon Dansicker, Todd Pierson and Adair Newhall each added two apiece.
St. Mary's (10-8), which defeated Mount Carmel on Tuesday to reach the championship, looked every bit like a first-year team, committing 10 errors. The Saints, who arrived 40 minutes late for the game, never got untracked.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning, sending 10 batters to the plate, even though only two of those runs came via a hit. With St. Paul's up 1-0, a two-base error by Saints third baseman Justin Miller let two runs in. After Hill singled to put runners at first and third, Saints catcher Brian Green overthrew second base on an attempted steal by Hill to force in another run.
Hill scored the fifth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Horich (2-for-4, three RBIs).
"We didn't take St. Mary's for granted, we just came in and did our job," said Dansicker, who had five hits in 10 at-bats in the tournament. "They gave us an opening and we took it."
St. Paul's added four more runs in the third on four hits, chasing Saints starting pitcher Ernie Listman, who allowed seven runs -- four earned -- and six hits.
Joe Shanchez relieved Listman, and promptly gave up consecutive singles to Hill and Horich, and then committed a balk, as St. Paul's lead ballooned to 9-0.
Meanwhile, senior pitcher Rob Gardinier threw four shutout innings and struck out six before the Saints got on the board in the fifth.
Gardinier, who struggled with his control throughout the game, walked the bases loaded in the top of the fifth and St. Mary's pulled to within 9-3 after an error by shortstop Justin Singleton, which led to two runs, and a force-out by Listman.
"This game wasn't indicative of how we played all year, but with a team that has but two seniors I think they were a little tight," said Saints coach Dave Lombardi. "St. Paul's is a well-coached team, they hit the ball well and their fielding is super."
John Carroll 5, Bullis 4: Tim DeCapite's sixth-inning sacrifice fly scored Lee Donelson to lift host John Carroll (12-10) over Bullis in the second round of the Private Schools B Division Tournament. John Carroll trailed 4-2 going into the sixth, but Donelson and Shaun Cullen each had RBI singles to tie the game. John Carroll faces The Heights (Potomac) in today's semifinals.
Pub Date: 5/24/96