St. Aloysius capitalizes on Natchez meltdown|[3/15/05]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2005

St. Aloysius knocked off one team from Natchez on Monday night, then set its sights on another.

Ryno Martin-Nez went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs as the Flashes muddled their way through a mistake-filled 13-3 win over Natchez High at Bazinsky Field.

Jonathan Longmire and Lambert Culley also had an RBI single apiece for St. Al (6-4), which totaled only four hits – three in its final at-bat. Desmond Smoot was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Natchez and Johnnie Williams had two RBIs.

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“I guess there’s something to be said about playing kind of poorly and still winning by 10. We made a couple of mistakes, but for the most part I’m pleased because we finished strong,” St. Al coach Clint Wilkerson said.

The St. Al victory set up a showdown at archrival Cathedral on Wednesday in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the Division 7-1A championship. St. Al is shaping up as a contender after winning five in a row – including three division games – while Cathedral is the defending Class 1A state champion and a favorite to repeat.

“They’re a loaded, old team and we’re a team of young’uns,” Wilkerson said. “But they believe we’re going to win and we’re going to win. We’ve got to, that’s the bottom line. I feel like we’ve got a good chance.”

Early in Monday’s game, it looked as if the Flashes might have been looking past Natchez (5-9).

They led 2-1 heading into the third inning before allowing the Bulldogs to regain the lead. Smoot’s RBI single tied the game at 2-2 as Edward Johnson scored from second on a close play at home.

As St. Al catcher Sean Weaver sat at the plate in disbelief, Smoot circled the bases and wound up at third. Smoot then scored on an RBI groundout by Williams to put Natchez ahead 3-2.

The mistake by Weaver was one of several the Flashes made early in the game.

Curtis Robertson was picked off of third in the bottom of the third inning, eventually costing St. Al a run. Three straight strikeouts short-circuited a big inning in the first, and an interference call in the fourth thwarted another budding rally.

St. Al also committed an error and dropped a foul pop up in the early going.

“We were sloppy. We didn’t come ready to play the first couple innings,” said St. Al pitcher Marsh Willis, who scattered five hits, walked one and struck out three to earn the win.

St. Al finally got its act together in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs on only one hit. Four Natchez errors and five walks – one of them to Pierson Waring with the bases loaded – triggered the outburst.

The Flashes loaded the bases with no outs before a fielder’s choice and Robertson’s pickoff at third left them facing another empty inning. Martin-Nez came through with a two-out, two-run single, however, to give them a 4-3 lead.

Three walks and a series of passed balls followed as the Bulldogs continued to self-destruct.

St. Al finished the game with five runs in the fifth. RBI singles from Longmire and Culley keyed the inning, which ended when Blake Tidwell grounded out to second. The play brought in Jordan Muirhead to make it 13-3 and end the game by the 10-run mercy rule.

PCA 7, Adams Christ. 2

Even the defending Academy-AAA South State champions proved no match for Michael Busby.

The Porters Chapel sophomore pitched six innings, struck out 12 and allowed four hits in one of the biggest wins of Randy Wright’s PCA career.

“I was concerned about us coming home 3-4,” said Wright, whose team also beat Copiah 13-1 on Monday. “We came back with two wins and I was so pleased I gave them (today) off.”

ACCS scored single runs in the first and second as Busby struggled with his control. A big third inning, though, gave PCA (5-2) a lead it did not relinquish.

PCA added three runs in the fifth inning to secure the victory. Moose Carney went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Busby, Smith and Dan Ivey each had two hits.

PCA 13, Copiah 1

Pell pitched a five-inning complete game and allowed three hits to notch the win.

Judd Mims led the offensive attack with two singles, a double and three runs scored. Busby hit two doubles and had three RBIs and Dean Hill had two hits and three RBIs.

Carney and Hales contributed two hits apiece.