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Sea's season ends on no-hit loss to Stepinac, 8-1

Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008 by Si Live

Sea's season ends on no-hit loss to Stepinac, 8-1

, May 29, 2008 11:55 p.m.

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — On some occasions, a team’s season comes to an end with a heartbreaking, extra-inning, one-run loss — the kind of setback that gnaws at players and coaches for an entire summer. The 2008 St. Joseph by-the-Sea Vikings don’t have to worry about that. But the way the curtain came down on their campaign will still be unforgettable. Archbishop Stepinac’s Greg McBride closed out the Vikings on a no-hitter, as the Crusaders advanced in the CHSAA Class A Intersectional playoffs with an 8-1 losers’ bracket victory yesterday at Iona Prep HS. The eighth-seeded Vikes scored their lone run in the top of the second when Bryan Moreno walked, stole second and scored on Chris Rossi’s one-out grounder to third, trimming Stepinac’s lead at the time to 2-1. But after the No. 4 Crusaders posted four consecutive two-run innings to open the contest, the only suspense remaining was whether or not McBride would keep his date with destiny. “We were flat. It’s tough going on the road and playing back-to-back days,” said Sea coach Gordon Rugg, whose squad had won four straight postseason games prior to Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Xaverian at St. John’s University in Queens. “We had a good run; this was the only bad game we had in the playoffs.” McBride, of course, had something to do with that. The senior right-hander recorded his first eight outs on grounders (17 of 21 for the game), as Sea batters continually pounded the breaking pitch into the dirt. Some of the shots were hard, but many were right at Stepinac infielders who turned in flawless performances. “The slider is pretty much my ‘out’ pitch, especially when I get ahead in the count. I kept my fastball low and spotted my curve, and I was hitting locations,” said McBride, who had defeated the visiting Vikes 2-1 on May 5. “We had lost four straight coming in (the regular-season finale, two seeding games and Wednesday’s quarterfinal loss to St. Francis Prep),” noted Stepinac coach Pat Duffy. “So I challenged Greg to throw strikes and I challenged our senior hitters to swing the bat.” McBride got all the support he would need with Anthony Muccio’s two-run single in the first frame off Sea starter Mark Dragonette. Alex Maruri’s RBI double highlighted the Crusaders’ two-run second before Stepinac added four runs (three unearned) over the next two stanzas against hard-luck reliever Billy Freisen. The Vikes, meanwhile, hardly threatened against McBride. Rossi was plunked to open the fifth but was quickly erased on a double play. Then, after retiring the side in order in the sixth, McBride was three outs away from a no-hitter. After getting John Tricoche looking a strike three, McBride received two big scares. Moreno followed with a hot shot up the middle that caromed off the pitcher, who ran it down behind the mound and threw the Sea cleanup batter out at first. Then, just one out away, Sea’s Ray Thaisz sent a liner to the right-center gap. Centerfielder Greg Caruso stumbled and seemed to have trouble with the setting sun. He nearly went down to one knee but got under it, only to have the catchable ball glance off his glove. Rugg quickly quelled any thoughts of it being a hit. “It’s clearly an error,” the classy coach said aloud in the dugout. When Rossi followed with a ground out to second, McBride’s gem was complete. NOTES: The Crusaders will play St. Raymond’s (which fell 15-4 to Moore Catholic yesterday) in another losers’ bracket tilt today at Iona Prep. ... It was Stepinac’s second no-hitter on the year. Eddie Byrne turned the trick in the regular season against LaSalle. ... Left-fielder Rossi had Sea’s top defensive play when he ran down Maruri’s drive to the gap in the fifth and made a sliding grab.

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