St. Paul's tops season with title

Johnson pitches Crusaders to 4-1 win over C. Hall, 1st crown in conference

MIAA A baseball

High Schools

May 21, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Imagine the jitters a freshman would have taking the mound at Camden Yards in the first inning to pitch for a championship his school has never won.

For St. Paul's Steve Johnson, there weren't any yesterday against Calvert Hall as he faced just four batters and gave up no runs in the first.

Later with the tension mounting, his team up by 2-1 and the bases loaded in the sixth, who could blame a freshman rookie for giving into the pressure?

Not this ninth-grader. Johnson struck out the last batter with the bases full in the sixth. His teammates got him two more runs and he finished with a 4-1 victory over Calvert Hall for St. Paul's first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.

"I was determined to win and did the best I could, and I really wasn't nervous," said Johnson, son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson.

"I thought about it a lot the night before, but that's about it. Then, I got here and I wanted to play and do good."

No. 2 St. Paul's (25-7) was a runner-up to Archbishop Curley last spring and second to Calvert Hall in 1997, the Crusaders' first year in the A Conference.

"These kids worked really hard for this after we didn't quite get what we wanted last year," said St. Paul's coach Paul Bernstorf.

No. 15 Calvert Hall (16-14) was gunning for its 13th A Conference title since 1976, its 12th coming in 2000 under retired coach Joe Binder, who won 11.

Johnson (7-1, three saves) made sure the Hall didn't get No. 13 by scattering eight hits, striking out four and walking four on 107 pitches. Five of the hits he gave up came in the first four innings as he pitched out of a couple of jams, giving up just a run-scoring single to Calvert Hall designated hitter John Kline in the third.

In the fourth, after Calvert Hall's B.J. Alaimo led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Bill Engle, Johnson's pickoff move froze Alaimo in his tracks for the second out and Johnson struck out Dan Tomaschko.

Cardinals starter and loser Matt Stefanski took a one-hit shutout into the bottom of the fifth. An RBI single by Crusaders catcher Chad Durakis scored Tommy Herrmann (2-for-2) to tie the game at 1.

Walter Hill, who had singled after Herrmann, raced to third on Durakis' hit. The Crusaders put on the fake double steal with the runners on first and third with two outs. The runner on first got hung up, intentionally slipped to draw a throw from the catcher and Hill slid home before the other man was tagged out to make it 2-1.

Calvert Hall 001 000 0 - 1 8 0

St. Paul's 000 020 x - 4 6 1

Stefanski and Parks; Johnson and Durakis. 2B: SP-Herrmann.

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