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Crusader baseball knocks off Philly powerhouse

Mar. 16—In the showdown of the Crusaders, the team from the brick city bested the team from the land of cheesesteaks Thursday night.

Grace Christian is ending this week with two games against Father Judge High School, a traditional power from the Philadelphia Catholic league which went 25-2 and won the Pennsylvania 6A state championship last year. One of the top teams in its division since 2016, the Crusaders of Father Judge are on a road trip to North Carolina and will place Grace again today at 11 a.m. They had won their first two games of the season earlier in the week by scores of 13-0 and 17-0.

Grace (3-1 overall) took the lead with a three-run bottom of the second inning and held it the rest of the way. The home team pushed the lead to 4-0 after three before Father Judge answered with two runs in the top of the fourth. The home Crusaders put it away with two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Sophomore Landon McDonald got the win for the Crusaders, working 3 2/3 innings with two runs allowed on five hits with five strikeouts. Senior Riley Mullen finished up, allowing just one hit in 3 1/3 innings with five strikeouts, and earned a save.

Grace outhit Father Judge 7-6, with junior Alex Pena Jimenez leading the charge at the plate. Pena Jimenez was 3-for-3 at the plate with a double, a home run, three runs scored and three RBI. Isaiah Arevalo was 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBI, and Ethan Bunce 1-for-3 with a run scored. Matt Murchison went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Grace scored a win earlier in the week when it hosted North Raleigh Christian and won 2-1 in nine innings. The Crusaders walked off in the bottom of the ninth when Bunce led off with a double and Connor Woods laid down a bunt to move him over. The North Raleigh catcher threw the ball away trying to make a play on the bunt, and Bunce scored the winning run.

The Crusaders took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, when Caleb Ellis led off with a single, stole second base, and then scored when Pena Jimenez reached on an error with one out.

Four Grace pitchers held down the Knights until the top of the seventh. Jaxon Wade opened with two scoreless innings, Landon McDonald had one, Wesley Clewis worked three, and Ellis was on the mound in the seventh when two Grace errors helped the Knights tie the game. Ellis then worked a scoreless eighth and ninth, leaving the bases loaded in the latter inning, before his teammates won it for him.

Camron Seagraves and Ellis each had two hits for Grace in this win.