St. Aloysius falls in extra innings to Bruins

Published 11:31 am Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RICHLAND — That St. Aloysius lost on an error wasn’t the most heartbreaking thing about Tuesday’s game against Madison-St. Joe. Neither was the fact it came in extra innings.

The worst part was it made all the hard work they put in just to get to that point feel like wasted energy.

The Flashes overcame deficits of eight and five runs, tied it with two outs in the top of the seventh and took the lead in the ninth. All of that went for naught when St. Joe scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth to escape with a wild 14-13 victory at the Mid-Mississippi Classic.

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“That’s a tough loss. We were right on the verge of our first win. If we didn’t give them eight runs early we might have pulled it out,” St. Al coach Jacan Warren said. “Words can’t describe how proud I am of these guys. That’s the team I have coached every day in practice. They gave 100 percent and never quit.”

St. Al (0-3) fell behind 8-0 after four innings, due largely in part to a string of miscues in the field and on the base paths. Two St. Al runners were picked off first and another was caught stealing. Defensively, an error and a dropped third strike led to a four-run second inning for St. Joe (2-1).

St. Joe did its best, though, to equalize things. Five pitchers combined to surrender 17 walks — seven of them in the fifth inning, when the Flashes scored seven runs to make it an 8-7 ballgame.

“We’re a very aggressive team and we’re bad about chasing balls out of the zone,” Warren said. “All it took was telling them, ‘Don’t look for a walk, but don’t chase either.’ They made some great adjustments.”

St. Joe recovered from its meltdown and scored four more runs in the bottom of the fifth to go back in front 12-7, but the Flashes had one more comeback in them. They scratched a run across in the sixth, then scored four runs with two outs in the seventh to tie it. Matthew Foley and Judson Gatling capped the rally with back-to-back two-run singles to left field.

St. Al finally took the lead with another two-out hit, Neal Ricks’ opposite field punch shot to left in the top of the ninth. Foley scored from second to put St. Al ahead for the first time, 13-12.

And that’s where the magic ran out.

In the bottom of the ninth Austin Hogan reached and advanced to second base on a one-out error, then scored on an RBI single by Jonathan Willis to tie it. After Willis moved up to third on an outfield error and a wild pitch, Luke Venable hit a grounder that short-hopped second baseman Patrick Murphy. The freshman, who was playing in on the grass, had the ball kick off his glove as Willis charged home with the winning run.

Even in defeat, though, Warren felt the Flashes didn’t come away empty-handed. They got off the deck after being on the verge of a mercy rule loss and got some clutch performances from young players.

Freshman Carlisle Koestler reached base five times in six plate appearances, drove in two runs and scored three, and pitched 32⁄3 innings of solid relief. Foley had two hits and scored three runs to lead the comeback. Murphy, the starting pitcher, didn’t allow any earned runs or walks and struck out six in four innings.

“Tonight, I think, was the first time they realized they could win,” Warren said. “We can build a lot off those last five innings.”

PCA 19, Rebul 4

Jeff Hearn doubled and drove in four runs, Jarad Tompkins, Cameron Upton and Montana McDaniel had two RBIs apiece, and Porters Chapel (3-0, 3-0 District 5-A) routed Rebul for the second straight day. The Eagles fell behind 4-0 after a half-inning, then scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first to surge toward the three-inning, run-rule victory.