It started out as a pitcher’s duel between Brother Martin’s Luke Bernard and Karr’s Tyree Thompson.
But the Crusaders, sparked by a Kevin Stretzinger hit, changed that in the fourth inning and went on to a 9-3 victory at Fairley Field as Brother Martin celebrated Alumni Day.
Stretzinger, Brother Martin’s designated hitter, belted a bases-loaded single to right that drove in two runs to break a scoreless tie in the fourth.
“I thought he was going to come with a curveball and he came with a curveball low and away and I just drove it to the right side,” Stretzinger said. “He is one of the better pitchers we’ve faced this year. But I was real confident. I knew I needed to get the job done to get some runs for my team to get us started.”
Stretzinger’s hit ignited a five-run inning for the Crusaders (16-9).
“Both of the guys threw the ball really well,” Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski said. “We were able to scratch a couple runs in the fourth, and that put a little pressure on them.”
Kyler Johnston added a two-run single in the inning off Thompson, a player he grew up playing with.
Johnston changed bats for the game, going from his normal 33 inch to a bright orange 32 inch bat he borrowed from a teammate.
“I knew I was going against Tyree so I changed bat sizes, plus I hit really good with that bat in batting practice,” said Johnston, the Crusaders leadoff hitter.
Thompson (4-3) gave up nine hits in five innings, with four strikeouts for Karr (9-8). The only hit he allowed through the first three innings was a Jonathan Parker grounder that took a bad hop to get past Karr third baseman Tyler Reid.
But the Crusaders were able to get five hits off the junior right-hander in the fourth.
“We fell apart there,” said Karr coach Donnie Russell. “They hit some good pitches that Tyree threw and found some gaps. They were able to jump on top of us. One thing about our kids though, we aren’t going to quit, and we’re going to keep fighting back.”
Karr cut into the deficit in the fifth, thanks in part to Malik Shaheer’s RBI triple. Shaheer scored on a sacrifice bunt to cut it to 5-2 and the Cougars had runners on second and third with one out.
But Bernard (3-1) got a pair of strikeouts to get out of the jam.
Bernard went five innings, scattering four hits and striking out eight.
“We knew Tyree was good, and we were excited to play Karr because we’ve heard a lot about them,” Bernard said. “I knew I had to throw strikes, and we had to hit the ball.
“It was relaxing once we got the lead, but we knew we had to keep competing.”
Brother Martin padded the lead in the fifth on back-to-back RBI singles by Chase Dolly and Michael Kirsch and added two more in the sixth, highlighted by Jonthan Parker’s RBI double.
Parker went 3-for-4 ,and Blair Frederick had a triple for the Crusaders.
“It was Alumni Day, so we wanted to play well for them,” Parker said.
Kevin Plunkett replaced Bernard in the sixth and struck out the side in the seventh.
Karr returns to action when it plays Franklinton at 7 p.m. Monday at Kirsch Rooney Stadium.
Brother Martin plays Rummel at 5 p.m. Sunday at John Ryan Stadium in a makeup game from Friday.