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New Chapter in Storied Rivalry

Mission League baseball: Crespi rallies, then holds off Notre Dame, 5-4, behind gritty pitching performance by Michael Jackson.


VAN NUYS — Michael Jackson's face turned bright red when the final out was recorded on a double play. The Crespi High pitcher was so excited that the Celts had pulled out a 5-4 Mission League baseball victory Friday over neighborhood rival Notre Dame.

"My adrenaline was pumping," he said. "I pitch to pitch against teams like this. Oh man, I play at Crespi to beat Notre Dame."

More than 250 people came to Valley College to watch one of the great Valley baseball rivalries. No one left disappointed.

Notre Dame (13-4, 5-1 in league play) opened a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Crespi (14-4, 5-1) closed to 3-2 on Tim Leveque's first-inning two-run home run. Notre Dame led, 4-3, until Jackson's run-scoring single in the third tied the game.

From there, it was a pitchers' duel between Jackson and Ryan Cowsill. Each got stronger and more effective as the pressure grew. Finally, the tie was broken in the sixth.

Jackson led off with a double and gave way to pinch-runner Nick Teslik. Left-hander Joel Kirsten replaced Cowsill. Joel Garcia hit the ball to the right side for a groundout, and Teslik moved to third.

Kirsten struck out sophomore Jonathan Oller for the second out. Up came sophomore pinch-hitter Dustin Slade. The count went to 2-2. Kirsten threw a curveball that bounced in front of the plate and skipped through the legs of catcher Matt Cunningham, as Teslik raced home with what became the winning run.

Given a second chance, Kirsten said he would have thrown a fastball. He struck out Slade on the next pitch, but the damage was complete. Finally given a lead, Jackson finished off the Knights in the seventh.

What a pitching performance by the senior left-hander. He gave up six hits in the first three innings, then shut out the Knights on two hits over the remaining four. He struck out eight and walked one.

"I didn't have my best stuff, but I fought through it," Jackson said. "I got the curveball going after the fourth inning and I started surprising them with a few fastballs, too."

It was a game filled with hard hits and terrific plays. Alec Moss and Jonathon Brewster of Notre Dame hit triples over center fielder Kris Palomares. Second baseman Brendan Ryan hit a double over right fielder Garcia. Center fielder Jon Horwitz of Notre Dame made a leaping catch in the third to save two runs.

"Regardless of the outcome, this was a great game," Crespi Coach Scott Muckey said. "This was what everybody came for. Both teams should be proud of the show they put on."

Afterward, Jackson was sitting calmly on the Crespi bench, the red gone from his face. Muckey was asked how much blood was flowing as an excited Jackson emerged victorious in the seventh.

"I don't think he needs any blood," Muckey said.

Crespi right-hander Tim Leveque will be sidelined probably one week because of a strain to his pitching elbow.

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