Crusaders win battle of Metro division baseball leaders.

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Eastside Catholic broke through with a five-run fourth to topple Ballard, 12-3, Wednesday afternoon in a battle of Metro division baseball leaders.

Timely hitting

Eastside Catholic (17-2) left seven on base in the first three innings. The Crusaders were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position during those frames.

“We just weren’t getting that clutch hit that got us over the hill,” Eastside Catholic coach Kyle Larsen said. “I keep telling these guys, keep putting pressure on them and keep getting base runners, good things are going to happen. Eventually, these guys cut it loose a little bit, which was good to see.”

Larsen liked the at-bats the Crusaders put together with runners on base, and believed it was only a matter of time before Eastside Catholic broke it open.

Ballard pitcher Alex Livengood did a good job of limiting damage with runners on, though.

“It’s definitely tough when they’re locating well and you don’t have the best pitch to hit, but you just got to be patient and wait for that one that he misses,” said junior Taylor Wright, who went 3 for 3 with a double, triple and two RBI.

It was Taylor who finally put Eastside Catholic on the board. His fourth-inning double with the bases loaded gave the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. Eastside Catholic ended the frame with a 4-0 advantage, added two in the fifth, one in the sixth and four in the seventh to cruise comfortably to the win.

Maholvich battles through struggles

The early going wasn’t easy for Eastside Catholic starter Colton Maholvich. The Beavers (14-6) continually spoiled good pitches, fouling off numerous two-strike pitches. By the time the right-hander got through the second, he had faced all nine in the Ballard lineup and his pitch count was into the 50s.

“I just say, keep throwing strikes,” Maholvich said. “Keeping it low and away.”

Behind a steady dose of curveballs, Maholvich settled down and got through five innings for the win. He allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out five and walking two.

“They were battling, they were fouling off a bunch of pitches,” Larsen said of Ballard. “They were making it really hard on him. Full credit to them, their hitters.”