Cromwell’s four-hitter, Padousis and Nelson’s bats power St. Paul’s past Boys’ Latin to force deciding match in MIAA B baseball tournament (VIDEO HERE!)
by Nelson Coffin
Although both teams had four hits in the finals of Monday’s MIAA B Conference Baseball Tournament, only one of them — St. Paul’s School — made the most of its opportunities in a big way.
The second-seeded Crusaders, who also drew nine walks in the contest, topped No. 1 seed Boys’ Latin School, 11-0, to force a final game tomorrow afternoon in Brooklandville, in an attempt to secure their first MIAA conference crown since claiming back-to-back A Conference titles in 2002 and 2003.
Junior catcher John Padousis swatted a bases-loaded double to knock in three runs in the the third inning after a walk to junior Zachary Felton forced in the first run of the game to give St. Paul’s a 4-0 advantage.
Padousis said he was looking for a fastball.
“I just wanted to hit it hard,” he said.
Sophomore Cameron Nelson’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Charles Konkolics boosted the lead to 6-0 in the following frame before the Crusaders (19-2 overall) exploded for five more runs in the fifth inning.
Felton started the rally with a single and would come around to score on a bases-loaded walk to Michael Lorden.
Then came the big blow, a rocket-shot grand slam over the right-field fence by Nelson to make it 11-0.
Nelson was also ready to jump on a fastball until an off-speed offering ventured into his wheelhouse.
“I was looking for a fastball, but saw it was a curve,” he said after turning on the pitch and crushing it over the right-field fence. “It couldn’t have come in at a better spot.”
That gave St. Paul’s sophomore right-hander Alexander Cromwell all the help he needed to set down the Lakers in the home half of the fifth inning, on two fly-outs and a grounder to wrap up the mercy-rule win over BL (13-6).
Other than the second inning, when he was touched for singles by Boys’ Latin senior pitcher Ian McAslan and junior Peter Makris, Cromwell was in full control.
Even in that inning Cromwell didn’t have to worry much after McAslan was erased on a nifty 6-4-3 double play, rendering Makris’ single to right less problematic.
Cromwell then induced another ground out to escape the inning unscathed.
A similar pattern developed in the fourth when senior Charlie Godin and junior Antonios Aikaterinidis singled for BL and were stranded when Makris flew out to end the inning.
Cromwell’s pitching was as efficient as the Crusaders’ hitting, walking none and fanning two while avoiding too many deep pitch counts.
He and his battery mate, Padousis, figured out how to silence the usually potent BL bats together.
Padousis, who calls the pitches, said that they went with way more off-speed stuff to keep the hitters off-balance.
Cromwell said that his curve has been a work in progress.
“It wasn’t working early in the year,” he said. “But I have a new grip and it’s been better for the last three games.”
St. Paul’s coach Brandon Taylor said that his battery’s game plan was simple.
“We wanted to attack them with two pitches (fastball and curve),” he said. “And when you don’t walk anybody, it makes a big difference.”
The coach said that by allowing his catcher to call pitches, both players are better for the experience.
“That’s how you learn,” he said. “They talk it over with each other to see what works.”
BL coach Bill Greenwell was philosophical about the setback.
“I thought that Ian had good stuff, but his location was bad,” he said. “They threw strikes and we didn’t.”
The Lakers will travel to Brooklandville tomorrow to decide the championship with senior Liam Karey on the hill.
The senior allowed just two hits and one unearned run while striking out five and walking two in a 9-2 verdict over the Crusaders in the winners’ bracket before St. Paul’s bounced back in the elimination bracket final to beat Indian Creek, 5-0. On Tuesday, the Lakers and Crusaders will meet for the sixth time this year. St. Paul’s won the first two prior to the start the B Conference regular season. BL won the regular season meeting and the first meeting in the tournament before Monday’s win by the Crusaders.
Taylor said that he has not decided on a starter, although Nelson, who faced the Lakers in the previous game, is a viable option.
MIAA B CONFERENCE BASEBALL FINALS
at Boys’ Latin School
ST. PAUL’S SCHOOL 11, BOYS’ LATIN 0
SP 004 25 — 11 4 1
BL 000 00 — 0 4 1
St. Paul’s – Alexander Cromwell and John Padousis; Boys’ Latin – Ian McAslan, Vincent Arthur (5) and N/A.
WP-Alexander Cromwell; LP-Ian McAslan.
2B: St. Paul’s – John Padousis.
HR: St. Paul’s – Cameron Nelson.