Russ Powers Roxborough Into Semifinal

Posted: June 03, 1993

The first thing Jason Russ couldn't believe was that Frankford High's baseball fans were continuing to razz him.

The next thing he couldn't believe was how successfully he forced those fans to cease their noisemaking.

Russ, a senior and lefthanded batter, plays first base for Roxborough.

In the seventh inning yesterday, after Sean Gray singled, Russ smashed a two-run homer over the rightfield fence and out onto Large Street (and off a house on one bounce) to give the visiting Indians a 4-2 victory in an entertaining Public League quarterfinal.

"I looked up there as I ran down to first base," said Russ, referring to the fans who'd been harassing him. "They got quiet. Real quiet. I didn't say anything. I just looked, then went on my way around the bases."

In the bottom of the sixth, after Frankford had tied the score on Pat Zolk's RBI groundout, Russ chased Fred Ewing's foul popup up the small incline behind first base. He did not reach the ball, but did cause a ruckus.

"As I was running after the ball, I wasn't really looking," said Russ, who was a star rusher and linebacker for Roxborough's football team and will attempt to play football at Louisville as a walk-on. "At the top of the hill, there was a group of kids. I tripped over a girl.

"I guess they thought I did it on purpose. They were saying, 'What do they teach you at Roxborough? . . . Don't you have any manners? . . . Don't you know not to hit girls?'

"The whole thing didn't make sense to me. It got me riled up. I was anxious to just get up there and swing. It was a first-pitch fastball. A little high, maybe, but I didn't care."

Although Russ is a strong kid with massive arms, the homer was only his second of the season.

"This has been a very bad season," Russ admitted. "I'm hitting around .200. At one point in midseason I was up to an 0-for-22 slump. I've only struck out twice, but I haven't been hitting the ball in the right places."

He did in the third inning, getting an RBI single to left-center. Roxborough's other run scored in the fifth as Josh Schrieber and Sidney Jones (ground rule) hammered back-to-back doubles.

In the bottom half, third baseman Jones turned in a spectacular play after Juan Namnun drew a one-out walk. Jones made a leaping catch of Don White's line drive and pegged to Russ for a doubleplay.

"I couldn't believe I caught it," Jones said. "I had to look in my glove to make sure I had it. You saw how long it took for me to get it out of my glove . . . I never beat Frankford in anything in my whole life! This feels great!"

Frankford had beaten Roxborough in the teams' two regular-season meetings.

"When they were taking infield, they didn't look too worried," Russ said. ''They looked kind of lifeless. Maybe they were looking past us."

Senior righthander Brian Braithwaite went the distance for Roxborough. He allowed four hits and three walks and struck out seven, including one in a 1-2-3 seventh.

In other quarterfinals:

CENTRAL 6, EDISON 5

Junior lefthander Joe Dugan struck out 13 batters while pitching three-hit, no-run ball in 7 1/3 innings of relief, then bombed a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

NORTHEAST 9, MASTBAUM 2

Buddy Grippo's two-run, third-inning homer sent Northest on its way to victory. Jerry Logan added three RBI. Mike Ferro pitched the first six innings, allowing three hits and striking out 10.

WASHINGTON 8, OLNEY 4

Mark Roque went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBI for Washington, which led after one, 5-4. Steve Harris (five innings) and Jordan Nicgorski shared the pitching.

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