Flashes trying not to look past Union

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2001

[04/26/01] Other than the fact it’s a second-round playoff series and the chance to play division rival Lake for the South State championship next week, there isn’t much pizzazz surrounding St. Aloysius’ series with Union.

The Flashes want to win, of course, but it’s tough to get psyched to play a team they have no history with, pitcher Ryan Hearn said.

“We got up for West Lincoln, but we had a little incentive for getting up against West Lincoln because they put us out before,” said Hearn, who will start game one Friday at Union at 6 p.m. “I guess the only real incentive in this series is getting to the next round. It would be the first time we played for South State.”

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But the Flashes (20-2) aren’t looking past Union. The Yellowjackets (21-11) are fresh off a two-game sweep of Mize in the first round.

Union has several solid hitters and a pitcher, Justin Darby (8-1), who averages over a strikeout an inning and has an ERA around 2.00. Darby, an East Central Community College signee, is also Union’s top hitter, with nine home runs and an average around .500.

“He’s pitched really well in the big games for us this year,” Union coach Sid Wheatley said.

Union also has a small field that will challenge the St. Al pitchers, Flashes coach Joe Graves said.

“… (N)o lead is safe. You’ve got to keep people off base because a routine fly ball is a home run,” Graves said.

The Flashes were confident heading into the series. They believe the competition they’ve faced so far has prepared them for anyone they might see in the playoffs.

“We don’t know much about them, but I think we’ve got a good chance,” Hearn said. “We know they’ve got one decent pitcher, but we’ve faced decent pitchers all season long and we’ve beaten every decent pitcher we’ve faced.”

If the Flashes can win the Union series, it sets up the possible rematch with defending state champion Lake. St. Al and Lake split a pair of division games this season, and a rivalry has grown between the two teams.

St. Al center fielder Blake Warnock said he was a little concerned the team might look ahead to Lake and overlook Union.

“That’s what I’m afraid of. (Union) has a pretty good record. But we’ve got a couple of good pitchers that ought to be able to shut them down,” Warnock said.

And not every member of the team wanted to play Lake (23-6). Graves said he would rather play Mercy Cross (20-5), which is playing Lake in this round.

“Mercy Cross is loaded,” Graves said. “To be honest, Lake is OK, but I’ve heard all this stuff about Mercy Cross and I’d like to see what they’ve got,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter to me. We’re going to hopefully be there no matter who’s there.”