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Coach of the Year: Scott Muckey, Crespi

His Celts won the Southern Section Division II championship with a playoff run that followed a key move by the coach.

June 18, 2009|Ben Bolch

Something had to change.

Encino Crespi had lost seven of 10 games by the middle of last month and hardly resembled the team that started the season 7-0.

The one constant the Celts could count on was pitching ace Ryon Healy. But what the team needed as the playoffs approached was consistency from a second starting pitcher.

"We figured our biggest obstacle would be winning the games Healy couldn't pitch," Coach Scott Muckey said.

Muckey responded by making the adjustment that enabled Crespi to go on a run culminating in a Southern Section Division II championship. He moved John Kearns out of the Celts bullpen and made him a starter.

All Kearns did in the playoffs was win both of his starts, his sinking fastball producing ground balls and his composure allowing him to work out of jams.

Kearns' first playoff test came in the second round against Garden Grove Pacifica and Brett Gerritse, a right-hander who was drafted in the 12th round by the New York Yankees. Kearns gave up one unearned run in six innings and the Celts won, 2-1.

Then came a matchup against Redlands East Valley and undefeated right-hander Jeremy Perez, and Kearns responded with six solid innings during Crespi's 7-5 victory.

Healy took it from there, pitching a complete game for the Celts in an 8-1 championship victory over Huntington Beach.

The postseason run reminded Muckey of 2003, when he also made a late change to his rotation and won a title.

"That was a pretty amazing run too," Muckey said. "We came up with a No. 2 pitcher late in the season in both cases and both guys were similar-type pitchers. Both held the fort for us."


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