Flashes overcome errors, nip Wolves, 9-7, by George

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 19, 2002

[04/19/02]After committing seven errors in their playoff opener against Puckett on Thursday, the St. Aloysius Flashes were left scratching their heads and asking themselves plenty of hard questions.

Like, how on earth did they win this game?

St. Al (18-3) pounded out 10 hits, including three by Charlie Amborn, two each by Blake Warnock and Walker Hengst and a monstrous home run by Aaron George, to overcome the defensive debacle and score a 9-7 victory.

St. Al can wrap up the best-of-three series today at Puckett. The game will begin at 4 p.m.

“It was the worst defensive ballgame we’ve played all season, bar none. We probably matched our error total for the whole season tonight,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said. “For us to win this ballgame, it was a gift. We didn’t deserve to win it. I’ve never seen anything like it. We couldn’t make a play anywhere.”

Fortunately for St. Al, Puckett was nearly as bad in the field. The Wolves (13-10) committed five errors, four of which led to St. Al runs. Two errors came in the fifth inning, when the Flashes scored four runs to take a 9-4 lead. Amborn, Warnock and Hengst also contributed RBI singles during the rally.

Puckett came back from that deficit with three runs in the sixth, and used two St. Al errors in the seventh to get the tying run to second base. St. Al pitcher Jason Brown struck out the side, however, catching leadoff hitter Billy Stevens looking at a fastball on the outside corner to end the game.

“What killed us was two errors in the field and three strikeouts at the plate,” Puckett coach Lance Dotson said. “If I could have those back, we’d be ahead right now.”

Puckett took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on back-to-back doubles by Taylor Henry and Wes McGehee, but St. Al answered in the bottom of the inning.

Amborn led off with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error before two wild pitches brought him around with the tying run. George then launched his bomb to left to give St. Al a 2-1 lead, and the Flashes never trailed again.

George crushed a fastball from Puckett starter Justin Thomas (7-2) high off a light pole in left-center field. Even after hitting the pole, the ball nearly landed on Bazinsky Road and was estimated at more than 400 feet.

“I was looking fastball. They threw it about gut-high and I just connected,” George said.

St. Al increased the lead to 4-1 on a bases-loaded, two-run single by Chad Cox in the third inning, but Puckett wouldn’t go away.

The Wolves had runners at first and third with two outs in the fourth inning when Brown got Puckett right fielder Matt Edwards to fly out to center. Brown had been called for a balk just before the pitch, however, allowing Cliff Ross to score from third to make it 4-2.

Edwards then singleed to left to score Joseph Robinson to cut it to 4-3.

“We knew it was real hard to steal on (Brown), but we figured nobody ever tries to. I think we shook him up a little bit,” Dotson said.

St. Al got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on Brown’s RBI single, but Puckett used two St. Al errors in the fifth to cut it to 5-4.

Finally, the Flashes were able to get some breathing room when the Wolves began booting the ball in the bottom of the fifth. Chad Cox reached on an error to start the inning and scored on Hengst’s RBI single.

Hengst then scored on Amborn’s RBI single, and Warnock’s RBI single drove in Alex Frisbee, who had walked. Edwards booted Warnock’s hit, allowing Amborn to score from first to give St. Al a 9-4 lead.

“Luckily enough, we had people in scoring position that when we put the ball in play, we were able to score some runs,” Graves said.

Brown walked three straight batters in the sixth after allowing a leadoff double to Terrell Jackson, as Puckett cut it to 9-7. The Wolves threatened again in the seventh, but Brown was able to get the three strikeouts to help the Flashes escape.

“God was looking out for us or something. We just hit in the right times, I guess,” George said. “Anytime you have (seven) errors and still win, you’ve got to feel lucky.”

Dotson said the Wolves won’t go down without a fight.

“We were not intimidated by them like we have been in the past … I’m not guaranteeing anything, but we will come out and play hard,” Dotson said, adding that neither team played its best baseball on Thursday. “It wasn’t pretty. We didn’t play well. They definitely didn’t play well. But it was a battle.”