Well-armed St. Al wins opener

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Aaron George of St. Aloysius follows through on a first-inning pitch. He struck out 11 and walked one in the win. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

[02/21/01] After their defense failed them, the St. Aloysius Flashes turned to offense to win their season opener Tuesday against Riverside.

Riverside (0-1) used a two-out error and a misjudged fly ball to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh inning, but St. Al catcher Charlie Amborn came through with a two-run double in the bottom of the inning to give the Flashes (1-0) a 6-5 win.

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“The one that I swung and missed before was a curveball, so I was looking for it … Right when I hit it, I knew it was going to go down,” Amborn said. “It’s great, especially since I was struggling. It’s nice to come through with a hit. I just hope they’re not all like this.”

Aaron George struck out 11 and gave up only one earned run in seven innings in the win.

Clay Simmons went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and an RBI for St. Al, while Blake Warnock scored three runs and Ryan Hearn hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to put the Flashes ahead 4-0.

Riverside battled back, however, taking advantage of St. Al’s mistakes and a little bit of luck.

A bad-hop infield single by Riverside’s Josh Jones brought in a run and made it 4-1 in the top of the sixth. Then Jamie Lester led off the top of the seventh with a double down the right-field line.

Two walks, one with two outs, loaded the bases, but Jason Giachelli hit a grounder to short that could have ended the game. Instead, shortstop Clay Simmons bobbled the ball and couldn’t get it to second in time for the force.

A run scored on the play to make it 4-2, and Jeremy Taylor followed with a liner to right that was misjudged and went for a bases-clearing triple, giving Riverside a 5-4 lead. It was the fourth hit of the game for Taylor.

“I probably should have gotten Aaron out earlier. I’m a stickler for letting my pitchers work as long as they can, and it almost backfired on us tonight,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said. “We didn’t make the routine play. But sometimes you have defense like this to start the season.”

George struck out Jones to end the inning, and the Flashes wasted no time in mounting a rally of their own.

Warnock led off with a walk and stole second. Ryan Hearn was intentionally walked and forced at second on a grounder by George, who was then pinch-run for by freshman Josh Martin.

Martin stole second, leaving the winning run at second for Amborn. After swinging and missing badly at a curveball for strike two, Amborn hit the next pitch to left center, just past the glove of diving left fielder Tommy Fugett to score Warnock and Martin and give St. Al the win.

“I’ve seen a lot of teams ahead the whole ballgame, then go down by one run in the last inning, fold the show and go home,” Graves said. “But I knew if we could get our first man on with Blake (Warnock), then we had a chance to win the ballgame, or at least tie. Then we let everything fall into place.”