On the frozen tundra of Lancaster, where the wind-chill temperature dipped into the 30s and hot chocolate was selling like beanie babies, Paraclete High established its legitimacy as a baseball contender Thursday with a 6-0 win over Crespi.
Jason Brown, a junior right-hander with an effective curveball and pinpoint control, limited the Celts to four hits, struck out seven and walked one in six innings.
Matt Parris, another junior right-hander, finished up by striking out two of three Crespi batters.
In winning its opening game of the St. Paul tournament, Paraclete (8-4), a Division IV school, outplayed the more highly regarded Celts (9-3), a Division I power.
The Spirits didn't beat just any pitcher--they knocked off Tim Leveque, Crespi's ace bound for Michigan, who gave up four runs in the fourth inning, the big hit a bases-loaded double by Parris.
Crespi, ranked No. 5 in The Times' regional poll, committed two errors, failed to cover first on a squeeze and missed the cutoff man on throws.
But this was a game in which Paraclete showed how far it has come under Coach Steve Hagerty.
A year ago, the Spirits were 19-0 at one point but their regular-season schedule was so weak they weren't ready for the playoffs and lost in the opening round.
Hagerty, who has guided Paraclete to consecutive section football championships, strengthened the schedule. The Spirits have two more losses than all last season, but they are in much better position.
"We're really pumped," Brown said. "Last year, yeah we had a great record, but when we had a tight game, we couldn't pull through.
"Last year, Parris and I had great ERAs and a lot of strikeouts, but when we played the good teams, we left the ball up and got hammered."
Playing Crespi, Highland, Alemany and Grant this season have made Brown and Parris better pitchers.
As for the weather conditions, Parris said, "I know it's cold when my hand starts turning purple."
The one Crespi player who didn't seem bothered by the cold was sophomore third baseman Jonathan Oller. He was one of the few players not wearing long sleeves and responded with two hits.