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Five-run fourth lifts Crusaders past Barons

Tampa Catholic sends eight batters to the plate to break open a close game and win 9-3.

By BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- It is the little things that usually cause big problems whenever St. Petersburg Catholic faces Tampa Catholic.

That was the case Friday night. The Barons stayed in the game through the first three innings until the Crusaders exploded in the fourth to win 9-3. "It was a close game, even though the score might not indicate it," St. Petersburg Catholic coach Mike Hoffman said. "We had a little inexperience and made some mistakes, and they capitalized. It's been that way against them for a while now. They know how to take advantage of opportunities."

Trailing 2-1, the Barons still harbored hope for victory entering the fourth inning. Tampa Catholic squashed that hope by sending eight batters to the plate and scoring five runs to break the game open.

"That inning was huge," Crusaders coach Chuck Yingling said.

Because he used ace Trent Moore earlier in the week against Clearwater Central Catholic, Hoffman went with Ryan Smith, a junior in his first year on varsity, as his starter Friday. Hoffman said he thought Smith did well in a big game but had two pitches in the fourth that were costly, one that hit a batter to start the inning and a high strike that Chad Leon hit to the wall for a double.

"It was just a little inexperience with Ryan, but he made strides and he battled," Hoffman said. "You have to pitch your younger guys because you'll need them later in the year."

Anthony Moscato and Robert Valiente made the runs count for Tampa Catholic. The two combined for nine strikeouts and allowed just three of St. Petersburg Catholic's eight hits to go for extra bases.

"We're young, and we need things like we had tonight," Yingling said, "a big inning to help us out."

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