May 22, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Whenever the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team runs into Westhill, its level of play seems to rise to an absurd degree.
That proved true again on a chilly Wednesday afternoon, where the Brothers clinched the OHSL Liberty division regular-season title with a tense 7-6 victory over the Warriors that complete a sweep of both regular-season meetings between the two long-time powers.
When they had first played earlier in the month, CBA won 7-2 behind Matt Croglio’s strong pitching and spectacular defense from, among others, shortstop Pete Clarke.
In the rematch at Westhill, a new cast of stars would shine, starting with Mike Kitts. With Croglio not wanting to aggravate a sore back muscle in the cold conditions, Kitts took over – this in the midst of a week where Kitts was participating in the Section III boys golf championships.
So just 24 hours before teeing it up at Seven Oaks in Hamilton, Kitts squared off against Westhill’s vaunted lineup of hitters, and it would be close all the way through.
Five times in the first five innings, the lead changed hands. CBA grabbed slim 1-0, 3-2 and 5-4 advantages, only to see them all get away. Even so, Kitts constantly kept Westhill from the big rally, and soon enough the defense would help him out, too.
It started when catcher Shaun McGraw made a sliding catch on a foul pop-up to end the fifth inning. Moments later, McGraw, at the plate, launched a home run over the center-field fence, giving CBA a 6-5 lead.
More Westhill errors (the Warriors had five on the day) made it 7-5 going to the bottom of the sixth, where left fielder Bryant Moore would steal the spotlight.
Kitts appeared to be in deep trouble when no. 9 hitter Mike McMullen led off with a single. As the big Westhill hitters (Mike Mascari, Mike DeCarr, P.J. Niedzwiecki loomed), Dan Karleski lined a ball to left that appeared headed for the wall, and for extra bases.
But Moore dove and made the catch, saving one run (at least) and thwarting a possible big inning that, as it turned out, never materialized. DeCarr did drive McMullen home with a single, but Niedzwiecki’s deep drive got caught five feet in front of the wall to end the threat.
Up by a single run in the bottom of the seventh, Kitts plunked Dan Gasapo, who reached second base with the tying run and one out. Beaudette was retired on yet another deep fly ball, and Pat Lemmo looked at strike three, ending the game.
Just before Westhill, the Brothers played twice, winning both in and out of league play.
CBA grabbed a big victory last Monday, at Liverpool, by giving pitcher Rob Cuomo all kinds of early run support in a 9-3 win over the Warriors.
In the top of the first inning, CBA put up five runs, all that Cuomo would need, though it added two-run outbursts in the third and fourth innings. Spencer Dunn had two RBIs, while Pat Wiese, Clarke, Dan Sisto and Moore each had one RBI. Cuomo blanked Liverpool until the seventh inning in his complete-game effort.
The Brothers came back to St. Denis Field Tuesday for what looked to be a rout over Skaneateles — until a late surge from the visitors forced CBA to hang on for a 12-11 victory over the Lakers.
Sisto pounded out a home run, triple and five RBIs as CBA used six runs in the third inning, plus six more runs over the next two innings, to go ahead 12-1. Moore and Stu Flynn drove in two runs apiece, while Clarke and Shaun McGraw had one RBI apiece.
It looked to be over — but Skaneateles dented the margin with three runs in the sixth inning, then erupted in the top of the sixth thanks to a porous CBA defense that made six errors for the game. In all, the Lakers scored seven times, closing within a run before CBA got the final outs.
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