St. Joe another familiar foe for Flashes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

[04/25/02]For St. Aloysius, the road to a state championship is littered with familiar opponents.

After dispatching former division rival Puckett in the first round, St. Al (19-3) will take on fellow Catholic school Greenville-St. Joe (15-7) in a second-round series beginning tonight at 7 at Bazinsky Field.

Should the Flashes win, they’ll face either division rival Natchez Cathedral or Union which St. Al beat in a second-round series last year for the South State title next week.

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“Anytime you’ve got three Catholic schools out of six still playing, it’s a good situation for all of us,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said.

St. Al beat St. Joe 10-2 back in February and a rematch was rained out. None of the Flashes was expecting another easy go of it.

“I think it was their first game, so maybe they weren’t up to their best game,” said St. Al pitcher Aaron George, who will start Game 1. “We can’t go into the game thinking we’re going to kill them or look past them.”

St. Joe boasts a powerful lineup led by Max Freeman and Todd McGee. Freeman has belted six home runs and five doubles this season, while McGee has eight doubles and three triples.

The Flashes will counter with some strong bats of their own. George leads the team with four home runs, and St. Al has hit well throughout the lineup this season.

“They’re going to be a better ballclub, but we’re going to be a better ballclub, too,” Graves said.

In their first meeting, St. Al rocked four St. Joe pitchers while the Flashes only used one, No. 3 starter Zane Key. That might be an edge for St. Al, if the players could remember the game. Two St. Al starters missed the first game for school trips, and several more were hazy on the details of the contest.

“I don’t remember anything overpowering,” said St. Al utilityman Charlie Amborn, who leads the team with 10 doubles.

St. Al’s staff has also developed. George and Game 2 starter Jason Brown have lost only one game this season and were very effective against Puckett. Brown allowed seven runs in the first game of that series, but only three were earned.

“They hadn’t seen Jason or Aaron, so they’ll get a dose of them,” Graves said. “We’ve got everybody fresh pitching-wise, we just have to get after it.”

Fresh is also something St. Joe might not be for Game 2. Game one was moved up one day because St. Joe’s prom is Friday night. Graves said that could work in the Flashes’ favor.

“If they go out and act the fool on Friday night, it’s going to be tough on them,” he said.

Amborn added that he didn’t think the move would affect the Flashes for the opener.

“A couple of people said you get another day of practice in, but even if we had another day, I think we got in everything we needed to,” Amborn said.