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Crumbley helps Tigers out of a hole

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 12, 2003

TAMPA -- Jesuit coach John Crumbley knew his Tigers' situation was serious Tuesday night.

Jesuit trailed district foe Tampa Catholic 4-2 in the seventh inning.

Having lost to Robinson, the Class 3A, District 9 leader, which tied Osceola in 10 innings Tuesday, the Tigers faced the possibility of falling into third in the standings.

Crumbley called on his son, J.J., a junior, to bail them out of the jam.

Four innings and 11 strikeouts later, J.J. had helped shut off the Crusaders offense, and Jesuit rallied with four consecutive hits in the bottom of the 10th for a 5-4 victory.

J.J. combined with starter Kevin Orihuela (six strikeouts, two runs) on a three-hitter. By spotting his fastball and using his curveball wisely, he struck out 11 of the 17 batters he faced.

"I felt good," J.J. said. "I truly feel we had more desire to win."

Dylan Melcher led off Jesuit's 10th with an infield single, and Wesley Jones and Ryan Wiser followed with bunt singles to load the bases for catcher Brett Bentley. The junior, who finished 2-for-5, roped a single down the third-base line for the game clinching score.

"The last four or five games we've been playing pretty well," John Crumbley said. "J.J.'s come in four games now in pressure situations. That's his role."

Tampa Catholic (2-4) rallied under first-year coach Tom Reidy, taking advantage of two of the Tigers' four errors in the seventh. Shawn Soler's two-run single scored pinch-runner Jimmy Ansell and Eric Rayfield for a two-run Crusaders lead.

Jesuit, coming off a 4-0 week in which it outscored opponents 36-1, tied it when Melcher hit a two-out single over second baseman Soler. Earlier J.J. had been called out in a controversial play for not running down the first-base line. Instead of having runners on the corners with no outs, Jesuit had to begin its rally with one out and Shane Robinson on second.

"I was juiced," J.J. said about that call. "I started to show a lot of aggravation, but I had to focus on pitching. I had to let it go."

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