By Phil Anastasia
Zac Gallen stuck with an old formula.
Mike Krusinski tried something new.
Baseball: Bishop Eustace beats Cherry Hill West
Both approaches worked to dramatic effect in Bishop Eustace's 4-0 victory over Cherry Hill West on Tuesday in an Olympic Conference National Division clash of Top 6 teams.
Gallen, a senior right-hander, pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts as the Crusaders snapped the Lions' 10-game winning streak and kept pace with division-leading Camden Catholic in the Olympic National race.
Krusinski, a junior left-fielder, snapped a 0-0 tie with a three-run triple on an 0-2 count with one out in the top of the seventh for Bishop Eustace (14-5 overall, 7-2 in the division), the No. 6 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Fifth-ranked Cherry Hill West (11-4, 6-3) used three pitchers to shut out Bishop Eustace through six innings as seniors Brad Machinski (two innings, three hits, three strikeouts) and Brandon Perna (one inning, one hit, one strikeout) set the stage for sophomore Jeff Dixon, who retired nine in a row entering the seventh.
"Brad didn't want to come out of the game and Brandon didn't want to come out of the game," Cherry Hill West coach Dan McMaster said. "But they've thrown a lot and I want to save their arms. We have confidence in our pitching depth."
Bishop Eustace generated its first rally of the game in the seventh as juniors Nick Browne and Dan Marano singled and junior Alex Hull walked to load the bases with one out.
That brought Krusinki to the plate.
"When I first got in the batters box, I was thinking, 'Hit it hard somewhere,'" Krusinski said. "Then when I got in a hole (behind 0-2 in the count), I changed my stance, got lower to just try and cover the plate.
"I fouled off a curve-ball, just trying to stay alive. I was hoping he would make a mistake and he left one over the plate."
Krusinski drilled a liner to deep centerfield, scoring all three runners. He scampered home on a wild pitch for the game's final run.
Gallen said he threw "90 percent fastballs" in powering through Cherry Hill West lineup. Of the Lions' four hits, only one left the infield.
"I just stuck with the basics," Gallen said. "I just went with the fastball inside."
Gallen faced just 24 batters. He recorded four of his strikeouts in the final three innings, and also got a lift from senior catcher Sam Steele, who threw out two would-be base-stealers.
The win was Bishop Eustace's second in a row after a stretch of four losses in five games.
"May's your time to be a team," Gallen said. "I think we're finding our groove."
Bishop Eustace 000 000 4 -- 4 7 1
Cherry Hill West 000 000 0 -- 0 4 1
WP: Zac Gallen. LP: Jeff Dixon.
2B: BE-Dan Morano.
3B: BE-Mike Krusinski.
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.