Flashes earn playoff berth despite loss to Cathedral

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two big outfield assists helped Cathedral slip past St. Aloysius 3-2 Tuesday night at Bazinksy Field.

Despite the loss, St. Aloysius got some good news later when West Lincoln edged Bogue Chitto 3-2 in their Division 7-1A game. That result puts St. Al (7-14, 2-3) back into the Class 1A playoffs for the seventh straight year. It also puts Cathedral (8-6, 4-1) a win away from clinching the division title for the third straight year. Cathedral hosts St. Al Friday night in Natchez.

St. Aloysius coach Derrik Boland said there were plenty of positives for his team.

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“Coming in, the only way we would not make the playoffs was if we got swept by Cathedral and Bogue Chitto swept West Lincoln,” Boland said. “With West Lincoln winning tonight, we’re in. But we’ve got another game with Cathedral Friday and we’ll compete again.”

Boland was enthused by the complete-game effort turned in by senior pitcher Josh Eargle, who got the Flashes to the seventh inning, tied at 2.

“Josh absolutely threw a heckuva game,” Boland said. “He competed every at-bat and kept us in the game. Another good thing was there in the fifth inning. Had this been a couple of weeks ago, we would have blown up and given them five runs there. Instead, we minimized the damage and held them to one run.”

St. Aloysius made its only two errors of the game in the fifth, down 1-0, but Cathedral got only one run to take a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Matt Bell led off with his second hit of the game against Cathedral starter Blake Morton. Neal Ricks followed, reaching on a dropped flyball in center. It was Cathedral’s fourth error of the game.

A sacrifice bunt by George Tzotzolas moved the runners into scoring position for Matt Foley, who sent a hit up the middle. Bell scored standing up, but Ricks was caught at the plate after a good tag from Cathedral catcher Caleb Upton.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, St. Al tied it when Eargle doubled into right center to score Matt Mims, who reached on an infield hit. Eargle tried to stretch the hit into a triple, but Turner Janette’s throw from right got Eargle out on a tag by third baseman Jamon Gray. That left the game tied at 2 going to the top of the seventh.

Thomas Garrity led off for Cathedral with a double to right-center. Upton followed with a hit to left to score Garrity for a 3-2 lead. Upton later reached third, but Eargle escaped further harm in the inning.

Morton, who had just one strikeout through six innings, struck out Bell to start the bottom of the seventh. He gave up a hit to Neal Ricks to put the tying run on for the Flashes, but bounced back to fan pinch-hitter Ben Welp. He ended the game by getting Foley to fly out to right.

Cathedral coach Craig Beesley credited his team’s mental toughness for their success in one-run games this season. All four of the Green Waves’ wins in the division have been by one run.

“These kids battle and that’s why we’ve done well in one-run games this year,” Beesley said. “Blake (Morton) has been the constant. We’ve struggled defensively all season, and did again tonight, but we also had two good putouts off assists from the outfield. Those were two crucial outs for us. It kept us away from the big inning because St. Al can score in bunches.”

Morton scattered eight hits to grab the win. Eargle gave up six hits but also allowed five walks.

Eargle, Bell and Mims had two hits each to pace St. Al.