Bishop Eustace gets past Paul VI

The Crusaders' Keith Wallace allowed no earned runs and just one hit in six innings of work.
The Crusaders' Keith Wallace allowed no earned runs and just one hit in six innings of work. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 26, 2012

It was the type of splitter too good not to be a passed ball.

It was a swinging third strike with two outs, as the bottom dropped out of a baseball that zipped through the five-hole of Bishop Eustace catcher Sam Steele.

The batter reached base safely, and the inning was extended. On the next pitch, Paul VI's Brian Almand crushed a belt-high fastball over the center-field fence, halting Keith Wallace's no-hit bid in the sixth inning.

"His stuff moves a lot, and I just couldn't get to it," Steele said of the passed ball after his eighth-seeded Crusaders cruised to a 7-3 win over ninth-seeded Paul VI on Friday in the first round of the Non-Public South A tournament.

It wasn't too hard for Steele to shrug off one of his team's only missteps of the day - and not just because the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz might have had trouble keeping that ball in front of him.

Steele was 2 for 3 in the game. His three-run double in the fourth inning put Bishop Eustace ahead by 7-0 and allowed Wallace to continue working comfortably through his six innings on the mound.

"Right now, we're just focused on getting on a run like we did in the Diamond Classic," Steele said. "We've been on fire recently, getting key hits at key times and getting great pitching. We just want to keep this going."

The win keeps alive a hot streak for Bishop Eustace (18-5) that includes a surprising Diamond Classic championship win last week.

The formula for that success, coach Sam Tropiano said, was in full force on Friday at home against Paul VI.

"The kids do a good job on the bases; they're constantly putting pressure on you. And then we wait for someone to be the hero," he said. "Today it was Nick Browne [who had a two-run single in the third] and Sam Steele.

"And on top of that, our pitching has kind of been carrying us right through."

Wallace threw 92 pitches over six innings, striking out seven and allowing one hit, two walks, and no earned runs.

He was pulled after six because he'll be expected to start on short rest in the Crusaders' second-round matchup against No. 1 Notre Dame on Tuesday.

"I was feeling good," said Wallace, whose record improved to 8-1. "It's a nice, hot day. I was able to get really loose. I just tried to keep my pitches down and not let them make solid contact."

Paul VI (15-8) showed signs of life in the seventh inning when Nick Gallo opened with a home run off reliever Zac Gallen. But it wasn't enough to mount a comeback.

Ned Kerr took the loss for the Eagles. He was pulled after Steele's double with two out in the fourth. His final line was five hits and five earned runs with seven strikeouts and three walks.

"You have to give credit to [Wallace] - my hat's off to him," Eagles coach Pat Fisher said. "We did expect bigger and brighter things this season, but it didn't come to fruition."

Paul VI   0000021 - 331

Bishop Eustace   202300x - 761

WP: Keith Wallace. LP: Ned Kerr. 2B: BE-Sam Steele. HR: PVI-Brian Almand, Nick Gallo.

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