Yesterday's game against visiting Archbishop Curley was Mount St. Joseph's short season in microcosm: After an inauspicious start, the Gaels scored a come-from-behind victory, 5-4.
Steve Brown's run-scoring single in the home seventh inning lifted the top-ranked Gaels over their sixth-ranked Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference adversaries, who had capitalized on an error-filled fifth inning by St. Joe to take a 4-0 lead.
But St. Joe, ranked No. 22 nationally by USA Today in the preseason, responded by tying the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, sparked by a 400-foot, two-run home run by two-time All-Metro third baseman Mark Teixeira (five assists).
The win was the Gaels' second straight after losses to Gonzaga of D.C. and Riverdale Baptist of Prince George's County. Curley is 1-1.
"With all the pressure from the hype surrounding our team and the fact that the weather hasn't cooperated, we had a slow start," said Teixeira.
He signed last November for a full baseball scholarship at Georgia Tech and, as one of the nation's top prospects, is being heavily scouted by several professional teams.
"We really had to focus on this game, because we knew how tough of an opponent Curley can be," Teixeira said. "It tested us, and we showed we could get the job done."
Starting Gaels left-hander Michael O'Connor (0-1) struck out seven batters and walked only two. He got little early support from his teammates, who stranded eight runners over the first four innings, including a bases-loaded situation in the first.
Things unraveled for O'Connor in the fifth, and with the bases loaded and one out, Ben Whetzel replaced him. The Friars seemed in control, leading 4-0 after scoring runs on two of the Gaels' three fifth-inning errors, followed by Scott Kosmicky's two-run single.
"That made our kids realize if they were going to do it, do it now," said Gaels coach Dave Norton. "Curley's a scrappy team, but after Mark hits the shot, we're back to playing like we should."
A switch-hitter, the 6-3, 220-pound Teixeira was batting left-handed when he chased starter Jeff Kurth by smashing a 2-0 pitch over the scoreboard at the right field fence.
Kurth's left-handed replacement, Ken Borst, faced only six batters. He gave up an RBI single to Paul Kern and watched another run score on an error.
Curley used four pitchers overall and blew a critical scoring chance in the visitors' seventh with two outs and two men on. Gaels' sophomore catcher Cody Wargo, who had doubled and walked twice, threw out the go-ahead runner at first base.
"In one inning, we boot two grounders, misplay a fly ball. Then we get picked off," said Curley's 36-year coach, Al Frank. "You don't deserve to win in this league, missing plays like that."
Pub Date: 3/27/98