Eustace rolls to Heinkel title

Steve DeBellis after the Crusaders turned a double play against St. Augustine. Eustace hit seven home runs over two Heinkel tournament games Saturday.
Steve DeBellis after the Crusaders turned a double play against St. Augustine. Eustace hit seven home runs over two Heinkel tournament games Saturday. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff)
Posted: April 14, 2014

Devin Smeltzer broke his glasses and was struggling to see.

He pitched a three-hit shutout in the first game and hit a three-run homer in the second.

Mike Krusinski left school with an illness Friday and still felt weak on Saturday morning.

He hit three home runs in the first game and one in the second.

It was that kind of day for the Bishop Eustace Prep baseball team.

Led by Smeltzer and Krusinski, Bishop Eustace 10-runned Egg Harbor Township and rallied past St. Augustine Prep in a clash of the top two teams in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings to capture the championship of the Tom Heinkel Tournament.

"Good day of baseball," Coach Sam Tropiano said after Bishop Eustace's 8-4 win over St. Augustine in the title game on a warm, sunny afternoon on the Crusaders' hitter-friendly field.

Krusinski, a senior leftfielder and Delaware recruit, was named the tournament's most valuable player after a performance that would constitute a good month for many hitters.

Krusinski was 4 for 4 with 19 total bases and 10 RBIs in the first game - which ended with the score 13-0 after his grand slam in the sixth - and added another home run on his first at-bat of the final.

"I woke up today and decided I'd try to see what I could do," Krusinski said of a stomach ailment that sapped much of his strength. "I was able to just stay calm and stay focused at the plate. I wasn't trying to do too much."

Smeltzer said he ran over his glasses on Friday and struggled to see the signs from catcher John Panchella (three hits, four runs during the day).

Smeltzer was dominant in the opener for second-ranked Bishop Eustace (7-0), allowing three hits before about a dozen professional scouts. With a fastball that hit 89 m.p.h. on the radar gun and a sharp slider, Smeltzer struck out 11.

"It was good to get off the leash," said Smeltzer, who threw 83 pitches in his longest outing of the season.

With Bishop Eustace trailing, 4-2, in the bottom of the sixth in the title game, Smeltzer came to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs.

He fouled off two sacrifice attempts, worked the count to 2-2, and blasted a drive over the right-center field fence to give the Crusaders the lead for good.

Junior shortstop Chris Jones added another three-run homer later in the inning for Bishop Eustace.

"Shows how smart I am," Tropiano said of his decision to have Smeltzer attempt a sacrifice bunt.

Top-ranked St. Augustine (5-1) won its opener, 1-0, over Malvern Prep behind senior lefthander Zach Warren, who didn't allow a hit in five innings.

But the Hermits couldn't keep pace with the Crusaders' big bats in the championship game. Bishop Eustace hit seven home runs over the two games, all to the right of center on a diamond known for its unique configuration - with vast space in center and left and Little League-like dimensions in right-center field.

"We know we have to score on this field to win," St. Augustine coach Mike Bylone said. "[The Crusaders] know how to play here. Give them credit."

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

St. Augustine 010 201 0 - 4 11 2

Bishop Eustace 100 106 x - 8 9 0

WP: Tyler Phillips. LP: Mike Vasturia. 2B: SA-Mike Vasturia. HR: BE-Mike Krusinski, Nick Browne, Devin Smeltzer, Chris Jones.

SEMIFINALS

Egg Harbor Twp. 000 000 - 0 3 0

Bishop Eustace 330 304 - 13 12 1

WP: Devin Smeltzer. LP: Tyler Fischer. 2B: BE: Nick Browne, Chris Jones. 3B: BE: Mike Krusinski. HR: BE-Mike Krusinski 3.

Malvern Prep 000 000 0 - 0 1 0

St. Augustine 000 001 x - 1 3 1

WP: Mike Ritter. LP: Brendan Inglis.


ONLINE EXTRA

See and hear from Bishop Eustace's Mike Krusinski.

inquirer.com/rallynj


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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