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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Slade is King for Crespi in League Opener

Baseball: Senior second baseman's three-run double keys 10-4 victory.

March 15, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PASADENA — With long sideburns and his hair dyed black, Dustin Slade of Crespi High has classmates calling him Elvis.

Thank goodness Slade hits better than he sings.

Slade's three-run double in the fourth inning was Crespi's first hit of the game Tuesday night and led to a six-run outburst that propelled the Celts to a 10-4 victory over St. Francis in a Mission League opener at Brookside Park.

Slade, a senior second baseman, has been the hottest hitter for Crespi (5-0). He has eight hits in 11 at-bats this season.

Jason Hirsh, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound right-hander, was untouchable in the first three innings for St. Francis (3-2). He faced the minimum nine batters, striking out six.

In the fourth inning, Hirsh should have escaped without allowing any runs, but a crucial error by catcher Ryan Brown opened the door for the Celts' big inning.

With two out and runners on first and third, Hirsh struck out Marshall Plouffe. But the ball hit the dirt, requiring Brown to either tag Plouffe or throw the ball to first. Brown seemed confused and held the ball as Plouffe took first, loading the bases.

Up came Slade, who hit a line drive over the head of center fielder Scott Solomon to clear the bases.

Before the inning ended, there were five walks, four wild pitches and three errors, helping Crespi build a 6-1 lead.

Crespi finished with only three hits and struck out 13 times, but the Celts took advantage of 10 walks and five errors.

Dale Legaspi, who started the game at shortstop, picked up the victory with three shutout innings of relief. In 5 1/3 innings of scoreless pitching this season, Legaspi has given up just two hits.

St. Francis tried to get back into the game with two runs in the fourth inning and a run in the fifth to close to within 6-4.

But Brian Horwitz hit a two-run double in the sixth inning to provide breathing room for Legaspi, who struck out four and walked one.

The game lasted nearly 3 1/2 hours, as both teams encountered difficulty playing on a larger-than-usual field. The pressure was on the catchers to block pitches before they rolled to the distant backstop.

Crespi, ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times, again showed strong pitching under the guidance of Coach Scott Muckey, the Valley's pitching guru.

Last season, the Celts relied on pitchers Tim Leveque, who is now at Michigan, and Michael Jackson, who pitches for Gonzaga.

This season, Plouffe and Clint Kofmehl are the starters, with Legaspi and Horwitz in relief.

St. Francis still figures to be dangerous with the intimidating Hirsh on the mound. He had eight strikeouts, walked six and allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings.

The teams play again Friday at Valley College.

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