McCrossen, Wood trump N-G with 3 runs in the 7th

Posted: May 18, 2010

A shade after 6 o'clock in Warminster, a kid got flat-out mugged and no one came close to calling the cops.

As generations of late-game heroes could tell you, the best kind of crime is the teammate-on-teammate variety.

"In that situation, there's no such thing as a bad attack," Kyle McCrossen said, laughing.

The 5-8, 175-pound McCrossen, a junior shortstop who hits third in the lineup, plays his baseball for Archbishop Wood High. And yesterday, his stamp was all over the last two innings of a memory-making Blue Division contest, witnessed by maybe 200 spectators, that featured two of the better teams in the area, let alone the Catholic League.

There was no surprise that one run made the difference. However, eyebrows reached top-of-forehead level over the fact that gobs of runs, comparatively speaking, were scored against upper-echelon pitchers, and that shaky defense played a somewhat prominent role.

Anyway . . .

With an RBI double, McCrossen made a large contribution to a four-run sixth, enabling the Vikings to take a 6-5 lead over visiting Ss. Neumann-Goretti. Then, after N-G battled for three runs in its half of the seventh, Wood responded with a trifecta of its own to win it, 9-8.

Among the delirious Viking rooters were 30-odd students, who spent the game on a patch of incline next to the scoreboard in centerfield. Before the kids sat down, one of them brandished a weed-wacker and buzzed his way through the tall grass.

On a 3-2, two-out pitch, McCrossen tied the score by cracking a two-out single to center. Having re-entered, starting pitcher Matt McAllister chased McCrossen to third with a matching single up the middle and a four-pitch walk to Jeff Courter - his two-run single had made it 6-5 in the sixth - loaded the bases.

Reliever Albert Baur had Brady McNab seemingly buried at 0-2 and thoughts of extra innings were dominant. But his next pitch skipped into the dirt past catcher Nicky Nardini and McCrossen easily frolicked home.

"I got a real good dirtball read on it," McCrossen said. "I had a green light all the way. I was making sure I had momentum going toward home. [Co-coach Jim DiGuiseppe Jr., at third base] told me, 'If there's a ball in the dirt, you're gettin' there.'

"Once I saw the ball hit off the catcher's glove, I was scoring."

And then getting pummeled by every last Viking.

"Whatever they do to you, you take it and enjoy it," he said. "It's all good."

This is the final week of the regular season and each team entered at 13-1 in Blue. Weather permitting, they'll meet again today at 26th and Moore, in South Philly, and the regular-season title could come down to a coin flip; both will receive first-round playoff byes.

Wood had much to feel good about - scoring seven runs in the last two innings against co-aces Mark Donato and Baur would have been enough. But there was also the soul-warming march back from a 4-0, first-inning deficit.

"I knew we could fight back," McCrossen said. "And I'm not always one who just says that stuff. I seemed like one of those days. I was thinking, 'Get momentum. Still win it.'

"You always have your buddies' backs. Doesn't have to be loud. Doesn't have to be obnoxious. I think we were all going around the dugout, giving each other pats on the back and saying, 'You got it.' That's all you need, really."

Overall, McCrossen, a North Wales resident and one of 12 lefty swingers among the team's starters, went 3-for-5. His early at-bats yielded a single and a pair of groundouts.

In the sixth against Donato, a lefty, a single by pinch-hitter Chris Zikmund, a bobble on Brian O'Grady's grounder and Mike Spahits' RBI single drew Wood within 5-3. Baur took over mound duties and served up McCrossen's run-scoring double into the leftfield corner.

"I got behind in the count," he said. "It was on the outside half. I just took it where it was."

After McAllister fanned for out No. 1, Courter, also a lefthanded hitter, drilled his two-run single between third and short, scoring Spahits and McCrossen.

"I had a real good lead," McCrossen said. "I know Jeff likes to send the ball to the left side. When he did, I was ready."

Frosh Brett McCrossen, Kyle's brother, opened the winning rally with an infield single. After Jim Fannon flied out, O'Grady sent a shot toward third that barely ticked Pete Piccoli's glove as it headed to left for a single. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before Spahits struck out. Kyle McCrossen's clutch rope followed.

"I was trying to turn on something, to be honest," he said. "But when I saw the pitch, I shortened up and tried to put it somewhere on a line."

Not long thereafter, he was sprinting to platedirt.

"Sure, overall, you'd prefer to win the game by knocking something out of the park," he said. "But to win this after being down the way we were, it means a lot.

"I have more than a ton of respect for Neumann. But I'm happy about what we were able to do. To show what we're made of."

And there's no happiness bruise that a little ice can't fix.

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