Crespi High virtually had clinched its Del Rey League title by the end of the first inning Tuesday, but there was still plenty of drama left in the Celts' 13-2 win at Alemany.
Chris Spears took a no-hitter, but not a shutout, into the sixth inning before it was broken up by Darrell Zavatsky's single to right field. Alemany had scored in the previous inning on an error.
"Chris was very effective, but not as good as he has been," Crespi Coach Scott Muckey said. "He struggled to find the strike zone, but he was able to get good stuff on his breaking ball and get the job done."
Crespi (18-5-1, 9-1-1) already had clinched at least a tie for the title and combined with Notre Dame's loss to St. John Bosco on Tuesday won it outright. Alemany (17-9, 4-7) was eliminated from playoff contention.
Crespi collected 13 hits and 10 walks off four Alemany pitchers and wasted no time in its title bid. In the first inning the Celts sent 10 batters to the plate and five scored before Chris Greenamyer hit into an inning-ending double play. In the inning, Joe Testa hit a three-run home run to left field, his sixth, and Kevin Thomas and Greg Barton contributed run-scoring singles.
Crespi scored three more runs in the third, two on Barton's home run to right. That blast prompted Alemany Coach Jim Ozella to pull starting pitcher Bill Lucid (5-4), who took the loss, in favor of Mike Rooney. Rooney and two subsequent relievers fared little better as the Celts added five runs.
"We weren't able to hit Spears and our pitching stunk. After they got ahead we couldn't stay close," Ozella said.
Spears, who allowed one hit and struck out 10 in his six innings, pitched out of jams in the fourth and sixth. was Chad Nichols pitched the seventh.
Alemany scored its first run in the fourth inning. Jon Beauchemin led off with a walk, took second on a ground out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored when Testa, Crespi's catcher, threw the ball into left field on a pickoff attempt. A diving catch by center fielder Greenamyer ended the inning and kept Spears' no-hitter intact.
After finishing sixth in the seven-team league last year, Muckey, who is in his first year as coach at Crespi, had been looking for a turnaround.
"They didn't do that well last year, but we had a lot of guys . . . returning and we expected to do good," Muckey said.
Of his team's chances in the playoffs, he said: "If we can play some defense we have a chance to do well."