Eustace's Smeltzer shuts down Eastern

Bishop Eustace's Devin Smeltzer threw a two-hitter, striking out nine, in the Diamond Classic quarterfinal win. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Bishop Eustace's Devin Smeltzer threw a two-hitter, striking out nine, in the Diamond Classic quarterfinal win. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 20, 2013

Devin Smeltzer walked off the mound after the win the same way he walked onto it in the first inning.

It was the same stone-faced attitude he used to recover from allowing an RBI single with no outs in the second inning.

Nothing appeared to faze the 6-foot-2 lefthander, and his Bishop Eustace baseball team latched onto that mind-set Saturday in a 6-1 victory over Eastern in the quarterfinals of the Diamond Classic at Washington Township.

"I just kept going at them," said Smeltzer, who threw a two-hitter, striking out nine and walking two. "I try to keep my emotions in check, settle in, and hit my spots."

Bishop Eustace, the defending Diamond Classic champion, noted how much the 16-team invitational means to its coaches and players.

"This is very special for us," said coach Sam Tropiano, whose team advances to play Camden Catholic on Sunday at Washington Township.

"We want to honor the history of the tournament. This is the 40th anniversary. It's special to us and to everyone. So we're really trying to get after it."

That Eustace was matched with Eastern (24-3), the newly minted No. 1 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, added another layer of pressure to Saturday's game.

But what stood out most was how relaxed No. 4 Eustace (19-6) looked throughout.

That could be traced to the stone-faced lefty on the mound.

Smeltzer, who also had an RBI single in the second inning, improved to 7-2.

"I've known Devin since I was 9 years old," said shortstop Zac Gallen, who was 2 for 3, including a walk with the bases loaded in the second inning.

"And it's always been the same way: It's always ground balls or he's striking somebody out. So that does take a little pressure off of us. We know we just have to make the plays and we'll be all right."

After allowing an RBI single to Jake Quinn, Smeltzer retired 18 of the final 20 batters he faced, yielding just a single in the third inning and a walk in the fourth.

Patience also stood out for Eustace on offense.

The team had nine hits, all singles, by seven batters and worked five walks, including two with the bases loaded.

Every batter in Eustace's lineup reached base at least once. The Crusaders had at least one hit in every inning until they were retired in order in the seventh with a 6-1 lead.

"It was nice to be a part of this tournament," Eastern coach Rob Christ said. "We've had a great season thus far. And we expect to continue having a great season."

Bishop Eustace 020 022 0 - 6 9 0

Eastern 010 000 0 - 1 2 3

WP: Devin Smeltzer. LP: Alex Bussison.


Contact Chris Melchiorre

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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