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Bishop Eustace stymies Paul VI

At the plate, Bishop Eustace's baseball team managed just two hits and struck out 12 times.

At the plate, Bishop Eustace's baseball team managed just two hits and struck out 12 times.

In the field, the Crusaders were nearly flawless.

Zac Gallen pitched a complete game with zero walks and T.J. Maiorino and Chris Jones worked middle-infield magic with their gloves, as Bishop Eustace clinched a share of the Olympic National title with a 4-1 victory over Paul VI on Tuesday.

"The defense was big," Gallen said. "Those guys made every play, especially when we needed it."

Gallen, a junior righthander, pitched a six-hitter with three strikeouts as Bishop Eustace won its sixth in a row to improve to 14-5 overall and 6-1 in the division. The Crusaders can clinch the Olympic National outright with a victory over Camden Catholic on Friday.

"He put us on his back and carried us," Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano said of Gallen. "He was such a bulldog. He willed it to happen."

Gallen was backed by some sensational defense. Maiorino, a senior, took away two hits with nifty plays. Jones, a freshman shortstop who had both Crusaders hits, went in the hole to backhand the ball and fired to first base for the first out in the seventh.

In the sixth, Jones and Maiorino combined for a double play that ended the inning - and Paul VI's last rally.

"That was a real big momentum-changer," Maiorino said of the double play, which began with a grounder to Jones. "Our defense has been really good lately."

Gallen painted both corners with a sharp fastball. He said he threw just one slider and a handful of change-ups. But he handcuffed Paul VI's heavy-hitting lineup by staying away from the middle of the plate.

"He was unreal," Maiorino said. "He was hitting all his spots."

Gallen, who has a 3-2 record, was the pitcher of record in an 8-3 loss to Paul VI on April 30.

"I was falling behind in that game, and they were hitting their pitches," Gallen said. "This time, I was able to pitch ahead and make them hit my pitches."

Bishop Eustace took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Jones led off with a single, Alex Tafaro walked, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Sam Steele drove in one run with a ground out, and another scored on a throwing error on the same play.

"We made the most of our opportunities," Tropiano said. "We put a little pressure on with our base-running in the first, and that got us off to a good start."

The Crusaders added two more unearned runs in the fifth on a pair of Paul VI errors.

"That's been our Achilles' heel all season," said Paul VI coach Pat Fisher, whose team is 13-7 overall and 5-2 in the Olympic National. "We just haven't been clean with the baseball."

Paul VI senior Ned Kerr allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in five innings. He gave up four runs, three unearned.

"Both guys on the hill did a great job," Tropiano said. "It was a shame one of them had to lose."

Bishop Eustace   2000200 - 421

Paul VI   0100000 - 163

WP: Zac Gallen. LP: Ned Kerr. 2B: BE-Chris Jones; PVI-Brian Almand.