Flashes fall 3-2 in state championship attempt

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 13, 2002

[05/12/02]MYRTLE Myrtle ended St. Aloysius’ dreams of a Class 1A state baseball championship in heart-wrenching fashion Saturday night, taking advantage of two St. Al errors on the same play to score the go-ahead and winning runs in a 3-2 victory.

“One minute we’re riding high, and the next minute …,” St. Al catcher Charlie Amborn said, his voice trailing off. “I can’t explain how bad it feels.”

Myrtle swept the best-of-three series to claim its first state title. St. Al was making its first appearance in the championship series since 1976 and was four outs away from extending the series to a deciding third game when Myrtle pitcher Gary Hood hit a grounder to first in the bottom of the sixth inning.

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St. Al’s Jason Brown fielded and threw home in time to keep Myrtle’s David Hill from scoring. Amborn caught Hill in a rundown, but his throw to third went past third baseman Alex Frisbee and into left field. Hill scored easily, and Nathan Cobb, who had been on second base, scored when a throw from St. Al left fielder Walker Hengst hit the dirt around home plate and skipped past pitcher Aaron George.

St. Al had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning, but Hood struck out Jason Brown for the final out with runners on first and second.

“I got caught in a rundown and just got lucky,” said Hill, who was 2-for-3 with a double and also scored two runs for Myrtle.

George allowed just three hits and one earned run in six innings for St. Al but took the loss. He struck out two and walked two. Hood (10-2) had 13 strikeouts and limited the Flashes to only five hits. In two games, St. Al struck out a whopping 26 times and had only eight hits.

“Probably the biggest thing that contributed to our loss was our lack of putting the ball in play offensively,” St. Al coach Joe Graves said.

Despite the heart-breaking ending, Graves added that he was proud of his team and thought St. Al had a chance to return to the state finals next season. The Flashes will return six starters from this year’s team and have several other solid young players ready to fill the shoes of the departing seniors.

“I’m proud of these guys no matter what happened. These seniors have given me four years of hard work and busted their tails to make this team successful,” Graves said. “We’ve got 10 to 12 seniors coming back, and we should be contending for this again next year.”