By Phil Anastasia
Brandon Simmons said he was trying to "be ordinary."
He was a smashing failure.
Simmons cracked a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to power Holy Cross to a 4-3 victory over Paul VI on Wednesday in a non-league baseball game.
"I was just trying to move the runners over," Simmons said. "Coach (Steve Paolini) always says, 'Be ordinary, not extraordinary.' What comes extra is a bonus."
Simmons, a junior left-hander, also earned the win by pitching the final 1 1/3 innings for Holy Cross (5-1).
The fast-paced, well-played game between Non-Public A rivals took just one hour and 50 minutes, thanks to strong work from starting pitchers Ryan Aleszczyk of Paul VI and Vince Naurath of Holy Cross.
Aleszczyk, a senior right-hander making his first varsity start, allowed six hits and three runs, two earned. He faced just 18 batters through the first five innings.
"It's a shame to see someone pitch that well and end up on the wrong side of the ledger," Paul VI coach Pat Fisher said of Aleszczyk. "He was given an opportunity and he did a great job. He earned more opportunies."
Naurath, a junior right-hander, worked 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on five hits with eight strikeouts.
"He did a great job," Paolini said of Naurath. "He wants to be out there."
Paul VI (2-2) jumped in front 2-0 in the third on an RBI double by junior second baseman Matt McKeown and an RBI single by senior right-fielder Devin Ruiz.
Aleszczyk cruised into the sixth with a 2-0 lead and retired the first batter.
Holy Cross sophomore shortstop Joe Paolini, the coach's son, started the Lancers' rally with a single. Aleszczyk got a potential inning-ending, double-play ball from the next batter but an infield error put runners on first and second.
Holy Cross senior catcher David Noworyta delivered an RBI single, cutting Paul VI's lead to 2-1 and ending Aleszczyk's day.
Simmons came to bat with runners on second and third and the infield drawn in. He wasn't thinking home run.
"When you start thinking about hitting one, that's when you don't," Simmons said.
Simmons drove a 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence, just inside the foul pole in the shortest part of the Lancers' home field.
"I love playing here," Simmons said of being a left-handed hitter with a home field that is just 270 feet down the right-field line.
Simmons said he wasn't trying to drive a pitch into the high screen that protects Holy Cross' tennis courts.
"I was trying to not do anything special," Simmons said. "I knew the situation. I was trying to get a runner home, move those guys along. I was just trying to be ordinary up there."
Paul VI 002 000 1 -- 3 6 1
Holy Cross 000 004 x -- 4 8 1
WP: Brandon Simmons. LP: Ryan Aleszczyk.
2B: P-Matt McKeown, John Petrongolo.
HR: HC-Brandon Simmons.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com