Foul pole helps out St. Joe in 2-1 win

Johnson's would-be HR for St. Paul's waved off in A Conference game

Baseball

High Schools

April 16, 2004|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

You can look for Paul Bernstorf, St. Paul's baseball coach and athletic director, to make at least one improvement to the Crusaders' relatively new park in Brooklandville next year.

Bernstorf figures to extend his foul poles as high as possible to minimize doubt about whether a shot down the line is fair or foul.

The current yellow, left-field pole might have cost the No. 7 Crusaders in a 2-1 loss to No. 4 Mount St. Joseph (14-1, 7-1 MIAA A Conference) yesterday.

Steve Johnson hit a very high, two-out, two-run shot down the line in the sixth that the Crusaders (13-7, 6-2 MIAA A Conference) thought was a homer that gave them a 2-1 lead. But it was called foul.

"I thought it hooked around the pole, but it's the umpire's call and he called it foul," said Johnson, who then grounded out to end the inning.

The ball landed in foul territory, but it was, of course, a matter of whether or not it was in fair territory when it left the field.

That's not to take anything away from the Gaels' senior left-hander, Jimmy Drury, who was outstanding, pitching a three- hitter with three strikeouts and two walks.

St. Paul's did not get to Drury for a run until the bottom of the seventh. Chad Durakis singled with one out, moved to second on a walk to Nick Perkins and scored on Vic Meyer's single.

Drury, who threw a first-pitch strike to 16 hitters and threw 87 pitches in all, struck out Sean Foley to end the game.

Meyer had stolen second to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position, and Foley fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches before striking out on a fast ball.

St. Paul's junior right-hander Nathan Curd (2-3) deserved a better fate, giving up nine hits (three of them swinging bunts), striking out two and not walking a batter.

Mark Hines drove in both runs for the Gaels, hitting a bases-empty homer in the fifth and getting an RBI single in the seventh.

Drury (4-0) took a 1-0 lead and a no-hit bid on 47 pitches into the bottom of the sixth. After St. Paul's Steve Michalos broke up the no-hitter with a single, Johnson came to the plate and sent his towering shot to left. Mount St. Joe's fans were convinced it was foul, as was Drury who said, "He crushed it, but it looked foul to me."

Mount St. Joe's coach Dave Norton agreed, saying, "I thought it was foul, but I didn't have as good a look as Paul [Bernstorf] and the umpire. But the umpire didn't even hesitate and said it was foul."

In the third base coaching box, Bernstorf had the same angle as the home plate umpire and disputed the call.

"I thought the umpire assumed it was foul because of where it landed, " said Bernstorf. "I thought it was over the pole fair."

When Bersnstorf calmly questioned the call, the man in blue screamed, "It wasn't even close."

One thing is certain: It was close and so was the game.

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