Flashes rock Cathedral for key victory

Published 11:30 am Friday, April 11, 2014

St. Aloysius’ Josh Brown dives back into first base as Cathedral’s Zac Flattman waits on a pickoff throw Thursday. (Brittney Lohmiller/The Natchez Democrat)

St. Aloysius’ Josh Brown dives back into first base as Cathedral’s Zac Flattman waits on a pickoff throw Thursday. (Brittney Lohmiller/The Natchez Democrat)

Cathedral came into Thursday’s game against St. Aloysius ready to reclaim its customary spot atop the Division 7-1A mountain.

St. Al, though, isn’t going to let its brief title reign end without a fight.

Connor Smith went 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs, Ben Welp allowed one run in a complete-game victory, and the Flashes pounded Cathedral 8-1 in the first half of a home-and-home series in Natchez.

The second meeting between the teams is tonight at 7 at Bazinsky Field. Cathedral, which had its 10-year run as division champs end at the hands of St. Al last season, can still win the Division 7-1A championship with a victory. St. Al needs to win tonight and Monday at home against Bogue Chitto to claim the title outright. A win tonight and a loss Monday would create a three-way tie that the Flashes would likely still win, but a loss tonight would make Monday’s game a battle for second place in the division.

St. Al, Cathedral and Bogue Chitto have all clinched playoff berths.

“It looks good for us. Either way, we’re in the playoffs,” St. Al coach Derrik Boland said.

Cathedral coach Craig Beesley expected his team to show up with urgency tonight.

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t take advantage when we had everything to play for, but that’s the good thing about baseball,” Beesley said. “We get to get back at it tomorrow and not sit around talking about it.”

St. Al (8-6, 3-1 Division 7-1A) has won three consecutive games, and six of its last seven to climb back into contention for the division title after a rocky start.

“It always happens like this,” Boland said. “It happened last year. We turned the corner after spring break. It just happened later this year because of all the rainouts. It takes us 10 or 15 games to get going.”

The Flashes never trailed Thursday. They scored twice in the fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead, then blew it open with four runs in the seventh.

Things began to unravel for Cathedral (12-4, 4-1) in the fifth inning. Down 2-0, Cathedral pitcher Thomas Garrity, who pitched all seven innings, caused a routine ground ball that was mishandled with no one on and two outs. St. Aloysius took advantage. After loading the bases, a walk gave the Flashes another run before Welp delivered an RBI single for a 4-0 lead.

St. Al had 10 hits and only one error in the victory, while Cathedral committed four errors and two wild pitches. Garrity also walked nine batters.

“We knew they would put the ball in play and put the pressure on us,” Beesley said. “We made errors, but hopefully we can clean that up and throw the baseball around a little better in the rematch.”

Derek Dolan went 2-for-5 with an RBI for St. Al, and Wailes Kemp drove in two runs.

Welp walked four and scattered six hits, but struck out seven and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning.

Natchez Democrat sports writer Jake Martin contributed to this report.