Stringer ends Flashes’ season with rout|[04/29/07]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 29, 2007

STRINGER – The St. Aloysius baseball team bid farewell to three important seniors, then began working toward next year with a nucleus of talented returning players.

Jordan Muirhead, Marsh Willis and John Robert Burnett played their final game Saturday, a 10-2 loss at Stringer in Game 2 of their Class 1A playoff series. Stringer scored nine runs over the first two innings and the Flashes never mounted a comeback against winning pitcher Andrew Pierce.

&#8220We always preach about fighting back and hanging tough,” St. Al coach Clint Wilkerson said. &#8220But when you spot a good team like that that many runs, it’s deflating.

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&#8220We have a lot of fight in this team and I am proud of them.”

Muirhead started the game on the mound for the Flashes, but was chased in the first inning after allowing five runs on four hits with three walks. He threw 37 pitches to the first nine batters he faced.

Freshman Stephen Evans relieved Muirhead when Stringer’s 10th batter came to the plate. Evans retired his first batter to end the disastrous first, then allowed four runs in the second inning as Stringer took a 9-0 lead.

The Flashes almost got out of the second unscathed. With Seth Hester on first base after a walk, Ryan Sumrall hit a grounder to second, a tailor-made double-play ball, but it took a sharp hop off of Stringer’s grass infield, past second baseman Justin Rushing and into right field. The next four Red Devils (20-3) got hits and four runs scored for the 9-0 advantage.

After that, though, Evans was spectacular. He allowed only one hit over the final four innings and an unearned run in the fourth inning.

The Flashes’ offense, though, never took advantage. St. Al got its first run of the game on Muirhead’s first RBI double in the top of the third inning that scored Pierson Waring.

Waring, who had two singles in the loss, also scored the second run on another Muirhead double in the fifth inning. The Flashes loaded the bases in the fifth, but Pierce coaxed a groundout by Willis to end the threat.

St. Al (23-8) threatened once more in the sixth against sidewinder Charlie Fall with back-to-back one-out singles by Burnett and Rushing. Fall left both runners stranded, then eased through the seventh inning to send the Red Devils to the South State championship series.

Meanwhile, the Flashes will take a couple weeks off, then start preparing for a brutal summer schedule that includes games against Vicksburg, Warren Central, Clinton, Hillcrest Christian and a lot of other top teams from the state’s various public and private school classifications.

The Flashes will return six starters next season and will have no seniors on the roster. That bright future took the sting out of Saturday’s loss just a little.

&#8220The future of this program is very bright,” said Wilkerson, St. Al’s third-year coach. &#8220We lost three valuable seniors and I told them that this team is going to be very special and that they had a lot to do with that.

&#8220I can’t tell you how excited I am about the future of this team.”