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Stepinac stays unbeaten

Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 by Lohud.com

SPORTS
Stepinac baseball stays perfect in uncommon fashion
By JOSH THOMSON
THE JOURNAL NEWS


(Original publication: April 21, 2007)
WHITE PLAINS - From the moment Pete Naber's first-inning grand slam left the right-field fence in the dust, the Stepinac baseball team played catch-up. Just consider this: rival Fordham Prep didn't throw a pitch all game without a lead.

Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Crusaders found themselves trailing the Rams by four runs. Once star Alex Maruri was retired for the first out of the inning, a rally seemed like a longer shot than Naber's home run. But Stepinac didn't quit, and has now added another moment in what has been a perfect season so far.

The Crusaders rallied for five runs in the seventh yesterday to beat Fordham Prep 8-7 in a CHSAA league game.

"When you're on a good roll, and you have good kids and good karma, you have that never-say-die feel," said Crusaders coach Pat Duffy, whose team is 9-0. "And when you're going good, good things happen."

The final blow came from shortstop Eric Capowski, whose two-run single with one out in the seventh scored the winning runs and set off a celebration along the home dugout. The game-winner was preceded by Anthony Antonicelli's two-run double, a hit that would've cleared the bases and tied the score had it not rolled out of play in right field.

Capowski, a junior from Yonkers, finished the game with four hits and three RBI, usurping the spotlight from Naber, who, until the final pitch, appeared to have given the Rams an insurmountable lead.

"We had them the whole game," said Naber, a first baseman from Yonkers who is headed to FDU. "We just let it go."

In truth, Fordham Prep never felt comfortable with its cushion over Stepinac, a team that won both meetings last season. But when the Rams (4-2) scored three runs on three errors in the sixth, the Crusaders trailed 7-2 and looked like a fading team.

"It would've been easy to pack it away, but this team is a bunch of hard-working guys," Capowski said. "We did what we had to do."

Capowski hit a run-scoring single in the sixth to cut the gap but he was stranded at first. The offense waited until the seventh to take full control, as six of seven batters reached base against relievers Daniel Fiorito and John Lewis.

"Our starting pitcher pitched his heart out," Rams coach Steve Pettus said of Chris Cositore, who allowed just two runs in five innings. "To come out with a big lead and have our bullpen, which has been strong all year, give up the lead like that is tough."

Stepinac pitchers Greg McBride and Luke Rush didn't allow an earned run after Naber belted the grand slam. They finished the game with 6 1/3 strong innings, but their performance was overshadowed by an offense that played 'til the end.

"It was a good cushion but I knew we needed to score more runs," Naber said. "Any time we play them it's a a high-scoring game and it always comes down to the last inning."

This time, the very last pitch.

Reach Josh Thomson at jthomson@LoHud
.com or 914-696-8289.

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