The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

June 9, 2014

Crushers' impressive run comes to emotional end

PUNXSUTAWNEY — One of the most successful senior classes in area high school baseball history played its final game on Monday afternoon.

Bishop McCort lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to undefeated Elk County Catholic in the PIAA Class A semifinals at Rich Kuntz Memorial Field.

Eleven Crushers seniors embraced, shed more than a few tears and consoled each other in the visitors’ dugout. Coach Chris Pfeil fought back tears while hugging players.

McCort held a lengthy team meeting in left field, and the veterans each spoke as part of a Crushers postgame gathering for the final time.

“I’m proud of these kids,” Pfeil said after District 6 champion Bishop McCort closed an 18-8 season. “The worst finish this senior class had was a state quarterfinal. They finished (in the quarterfinals) twice, finished in the state semifinal once, and won a state championship. You win 82 games in four years. … Some programs it takes 10 years to win that many games.

“These are just great kids. It’s just a sad, disappointing way for it to end.”

The current McCort seniors contributed as freshmen during a state playoff run in 2011.

The next year, the Crushers won it all, claiming PIAA Class A gold. In 2013, the run ended in the state quarterfinals.

This year, McCort lost one game shy of reaching the state title game again.

“This was this coaching staff’s first group,” Pfeil said of the seniors. “They were freshmen when we came in. We knew they had a lot of talent and we asked them to do a lot of hard work. They come every day and work hard in practice.

“They wanted extra reps. They wanted more and more and more,” he added. “That’s why seven of them are moving on to the next level to play in college. They’re a dedicated group and very coachable. They made adjustments. They jelled. They fought the whole way to the end.”

Senior pitcher Brad Coleman tossed another gem on Monday. Coleman was the pitcher of record in all six of McCort’s playoff games this season.

He was a rock, especially on the night the Crushers won their third consecutive district crown.

On Monday, Coleman threw 82 pitches, with 60 for strikes.

He scattered six hits facing a lineup that had two playoff victories decided by the 10-run mercy rule. Elk County improved to 26-0, but McCort made it difficult on the Crusaders.

Coleman said the experience he’s shared with his fellow seniors and the rest of the Crushers lineup has been extraordinary.

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