One bad inning costs 1A St. Al in 12-3 loss

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2002

Blake Warnock of St. Al slides into home with the Flashes’ first run as Forest Hill catcher Michael Burger scoops up the ball and umpire Willie Robinson gets ready to make the call in the championship game of the Capital Classic Thursday.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/15/02]JACKSON For one inning, St. Aloysius stopped doing all of the little things that led to nine straight wins, and it played a big part in its first loss of the season.

Forest Hill, No. 14 in The Clarion-Ledger’s poll, took advantage of several defensive miscues by St. Al to rally for six runs in the fourth inning of Thursday’s Capital Classic championship game, and went on to win 12-3.

Tournament MVP Rapheal Ward threw a complete game for Forest Hill (12-3) to get the win, and went 4-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs.

Blake Warnock and Charlie Amborn each went 2-for-4 with a double for St. Al (9-1), Aaron George added an RBI single and Jason Brown had two hits.

“We’re the only 1A school out of the 14 teams in this thing, and for us to come from the ranks and play well against a powerhouse for five innings, that’s what this is all about,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said.

St. Al scratched out a run in the bottom of the third to break a scoreless tie. Amborn doubled and George legged out a two-out infield single to score courtesy runner Dan Muirhead.

St. Al pitcher Zane Key, throwing on just two days’ rest, got Forest Hill designated hitter Chris Kursar on a groundout to start the fourth, but things quickly fell apart after that.

Rebel left fielder Jon Paul Reed singled and went to second on a walk to Greg Manogin. The next batter, shortstop Brandon Walker, then delivered a single to right center.

Warnock came up throwing and had a shot to throw Reed out at the plate, but St. Al first baseman Jason Brown cut the throw off at the pitcher’s mound. Brown turned and threw home, but Reed beat the relay to tie the game at 1-1.

After Forest Hill’s Mitchell Taylor was hit by a pitch to load the bases, second baseman Landry Holloway blooped a ball into right field.

St. Al second baseman Victor Segers and right fielder Miles Ashley nearly collided as the ball fell in, allowing Manogin to score the go-ahead run. A late throw to the plate then skipped by Amborn, allowing another run to score.

“We had a couple of misplays and they took advantage of it. They’ve got a lot of speed,” Graves said.

Ward followed with an RBI single to make it 4-1, and a fifth run scored on a wild pitch. Ward capped the inning by scoring on a grounder back to the pitcher after Key looked him back to third to make it 6-1.

“If we wouldn’t have had that big inning, I don’t know if we’d have won,” Forest Hill coach Tommy Groves said. “We needed that to get us jumpstarted. We looked like we were dragging a little bit.”

Key, who struggled to locate his curveball all day, was forced to rely on a mixture of fastballs and changeups. He was able to pitch out of a couple of early jams before the fourth, but began to flounder after the big inning.

He walked two batters in the fifth before giving up a three-run homer to Taylor that made it 9-1 and put the game away.

“The defense wasn’t that good, but my curveball wasn’t breaking that good,” Key said.

St. Al rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Forest Hill kept the Flashes at bay with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh.

Ward struck out the side in the sixth after a leadoff walk to Chad Cox and allowed only one hit in the last two innings, a two-out, two-strike single by Brown in the seventh. Ward then induced a groundout by George to end the game.

“So far this year, that was about my best game pitching,” Ward said. “My fastball was working, in and out. My curveball, I didn’t really have too much on it. My fastball got me through.”

St. Al 11, Yazoo City 0

Aaron George hit a grand slam, and Charlie Amborn went 3-for-4 with an RBI double as St. Al scored in all but one inning and routed Yazoo City in the Capital Classic semifinals.

Jason Brown threw a six-inning complete game, striking out seven and walking only one while scattering four hits. He helped his own cause with a two-run single in the fourth inning.

Alex Frisbee also had two hits and scored two runs for St. Al, and Blake Warnock had two singles and scored four runs.