St. Paul's rallies its way into finals

No. 3 Crusaders knock off No. 1 Mount St. Joe, 4-3

MIAA A Conference baseball

May 17, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

St. Paul's rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh with sophomore Nick Perkins' two-run single the decisive blow as top-ranked Mount St. Joseph beat the Crusaders, 4-3, in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs yesterday at Mount St. Joseph.

Freshman right-hander Steve Johnson closed the door on the Gaels to save the victory for junior right-hander Ryan Prenger (7-3).

The No. 3 Crusaders (24-7), who have only three seniors, advanced to the MIAA A Conference finals for the second straight year.

St. Paul's, a loser to Curley in last year's final, has to be beaten twice in the double-elimination tournament, but can wrap it up 4 p.m. Monday at Camden Yards. The "if" game would be 4 p.m. Tuesday at McDonogh.

Johnson, who three-hit the Gaels in a 3-1 win at St. Paul's several weeks ago and picked two runers off second base, picked the potential tying run off second after walking a batter and hitting the next man.

"I was really nervous and shouldn't have been as nervous as I was, " said Johnson, who normally does not walk people.

"I had to calm down for that last hitter, but when I picked that guy off, it gave me some momentum to get that last strikeout."

The game ended with the ninth-grader striking out Jeff Poff on a nasty curve down and away for his second strikeout of the inning.

"Steve is amazing and has a lot of talent, " said junior third baseman David Beach, who had an RBI double in the seventh.

"Three weeks ago, we were 6-5 in the league and were struggling, but now we've won 10 in a row and want to keep playing one game at a time," said St. Paul's coach Paul Bernsdorf.

Mount St. Joseph (21-6) has to win today at home against Calvert Hall and knock off the Crusaders twice. It's a familiar situation for the Gaels, who are trying to win their first "A" title since 1987, although they have been picked to do so many times.

It seems that no metro area high school team has been the top seed or favorite to win its title and lost by poor play as many times as the Mount.

"That's pretty much been our luck in the playoffs: Always something seems to happen to us," said Gaels coach Dave Norton.

Left-hander Dave Centineo, the Gaels' No. 2 hurler, pitched well enough to win yesterday, but his mates ran themselves out of a couple of innings with three men thrown out at home.

"It's one thing to be aggressive on the bases, but it's another thing to be stupid, and we made four errors and only made 20 errors all season," said Norton.

Calvert Hall 9, No. 13 John Carroll 5: Jeremy Jakubowski doubled in a pair of runs in a five-run sixth inning as Calvert Hall eliminated host and No. 13 John Carroll, 9-5, in the A Conference losers bracket.

Matt Parks joined Jakubowski with two hits for the Cardinals (15-13) of coach Lou Eckerl. Both of Parks' hits were triples to highlight a 13-hit attack.

Sean Raye, who worked the last three innings in relief, was the winning pitcher over the Patriots (11-9).

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