Bishop McCort’s baseball team is in elite company as it heads into today’s PIAA quart-erfinal-round game at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

The Crimson Crushers, just one of eight squads in Class AA who are still alive for a state championship, play District 7 third-place finisher Burrell (18-2) at noon.

Bishop McCort (16-6) advanced to the quarterfinal round of the PIAA baseball playoffs twice before, in 1999 and 2003.

“They are playing as a team with real togetherness,” Bishop McCort coach Denny Altimore said about his squad. “They have one goal now and they really have their eyes set on that and that’s what we’re playing for. I think that’s our key. It’s all about the team concept. The fact that we’re playing unselfish baseball has been huge for us.”

In the District 6 playoffs, the Crushers came from behind to defeat Mount Union 7-6 in the quarterfinals, then had a convincing 12-1 victory over Blairsville in the semifinals.

After dropping a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Bald Eagle Area in the District 6 championship, the runner-up Crimson Crushers surprised District 7 champion Beaver 6-2 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

“It’s how you approach the next one after a tough loss that’s important,” Bishop McCort assistant coach Dean Gindlesperger said. “They are having fun and it’s a game and we want to build some memories when they leave here as well as some things they can take with them in life. They are not all going to be playing baseball at the next level or beyond and there are some things, win or lose, that you have to learn from. You have to have a good attitude and show some class when things don’t go your way.”

Adversity had been something that this Crimson Crushers squad has been able to overcome from the outset.

“As the season went on, things started coming together,” Altimore said. “We had some early-season injuries and had some key people out. Everyone is starting to get healthy now. We’ve had to tweak the lineup several times to compensate for that. Now we feel we have nine guys in the lineup who can pound the ball and it’s due to the fact that these guys are getting healthy.”

Against Beaver, the top run-producing team in the WPIAL, senior left-hander Rick James pitched an ace and got plenty of run support from his teammates.

“We approach the game the same way as we did the one with Beaver,” Altimore said. “We’re going to play to our strengths and do what we do best and let the chips fall where they may.”

Bishop McCort will start either senior right-hander Zak Boyd or junior right-hander Colin Harrington against Burrell.

The victor of the Bishop McCort/Burrell contest will play the Seton LaSalle/Sharon winner in Monday’s semifinals.

The Class AA title game is 10:30 a.m. also June 13 at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona.

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