St. Al down, still confident going to Myrtle for must-win

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2002

[05/11/02]The St. Aloysius Flashes were beaten, humiliated and left on the brink of elimination by Myrtle in Game 1 of the Class 1A championship series Thursday night.

But as they head into Game 2 at Myrtle (25-8) which was moved back to tonight at 7 because of heavy rain , the Flashes (23-5) are more confident than ever that they’ll win the next two games and their first state title since 1976.

“They just beat us. But I assure you, (tonight) we’ll be ready,” St. Al left fielder Walker Hengst said. “With Aaron (George) on the mound, it’ll be really difficult for them to hit.”

The experience of Game 1 was a wake-up call for St. Al, players said. Myrtle used a dominating pitching performance by sophomore left-hander Dustin Hill and a series of bloop hits to win.

“I think everybody’s confidence level is up, and everybody is (mad),” St. Al’s Chad Cox said.

Now that they’ve seen Myrtle’s style, the St. Al players said they won’t be fooled again. Playing on Myrtle’s short field, which is about 300 feet all the way around, should work in St. Al’s favor.

The Flashes were drooling over the thought of taking aim at the short fence during Friday’s practice, and of facing junkballer Gary Hood (9-2) on Saturday.

“I think it’s good that we’re facing him on the smaller field, because regular pop-ups at Bazinsky will be home runs on this field,” Hengst said.

The Hawks have hit only one home run this year, but use a bunt-and-slash style to generate runs.

“We focus on hitting, but we’re not a power ballclub,” Hill said.

The smallball game seemed to catch the Flashes off guard in Game 1, as hits dropped in front of charging outfielders. When the Hawks kept it on the ground, they found holes in the infield, and also laid down several bunts.

“It took us a while to realize that nobody was going to hit any bombs, and once we moved up, we played really well,” Hengst said of Game 1. “It’ll be a lot easier for us. It’s going to be really hard for them to score on tags because everyone in our outfield has a good arm.”

Other mistakes in the pitching game and on defense also hurt St. Al in Game 1. Myrtle stole five bases on St. Al pitcher Jason Brown, who also walked five batters, and the Flashes committed five errors.

George (11-1), who will start Game 2, said eliminating the miscues was the biggest key to ensuring a Game 3 at home on Monday.

“I have to get ahead in the count and throw strikes. I can’t get behind in the count,” said George, who pitched six shutout innings in the South State clincher against Cathedral. “It just goes back to playing like we can no errors and good defense.”