St. Aloysius tops Stringer for lead in series

Published 9:53 am Friday, May 2, 2014

Only time will tell if the St. Aloysius Flashes earn their place in the pantheon of state champions.

For one night, though, it was hard to imagine anyone beating them.

The Flashes banged out 16 hits, pitcher Ben Welp struck out 14 batters, and they played one of their most complete games of the season in a 9-1 rout of Stringer in Game 1 of a Class 1A playoff series at Bazinsky Field.

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Game 2 of the best-of-three series is tonight at 7 at Stringer. If a Game 3 is necessary, it’ll be back at Bazinsky Field Saturday at 6 p.m.

“Here’s the good thing when I look back on it — we made some mistakes we normally don’t make,” St. Al coach Derrik Boland said. “We made some basrunning mistakes. We played solid defense. Thirteen strikeouts helps you a bunch. But overall, it was a good team effort. We hit balls well, and we’ve still got places we can improve.”

St. Al (14-8) had a nine-day layoff between its last regular-season game and its playoff opener, but didn’t show any signs of rust.

Patrick Murphy drove in the team’s first run with a single in the first inning, and Jacob Breeden had another RBI single in the second.

The Flashes then blew the game open with six runs in the bottom of the third to take an 8-1 lead.

The inning featured seven hits, but the most impressive batted ball was one that landed in a glove. Drake Dorbeck hit a rocket to the base of the 375-foot center field fence that was caught by Stringer’s Zach Tew. Derek Dolan tagged up from third and scored easily to make it 4-1.

Dorbeck’s sacrifice fly was emblematic of most of the balls the Flashes put in play. Even most of the outs were line drives or hard grounders, including a pair of line drive double plays.

“We had a long break to work on a lot of swings, and we just took it to the field. We shortened up a lot of swings,” Dorbeck said.

Murphy and Dorbeck had two hits and two RBIs apiece. Lane Hynum went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Breeden was 3-for-3 with a double and one RBI.

Welp was the only St. Al starter who didn’t have a hit, but he more than made up for it with his dominant pitching.

After giving up an unearned run in the first inning and a two-out triple in the second, Welp settled in nicely. He retired 15 of 17 batters and struck out at least one in every inning.

Trenton Stringer broke up the run with a two-out single in the seventh, and Stringer (16-9) ended up loading the bases. Welp got Bailey Sullivan to chase a curveball for strike three and the final out, however, to put a fitting capstone on his gem.

Welp allowed five hits in the game, walked three batters and hit one.

His strikeout total was a career high.

“I can’t think about it, can’t let it get in my head. If I get frustrated it starts going downhill quick,” Welp said of his approach after the somewhat shaky start. “I was feeling good. My arm was feeling good and I had complete confidence in my defense behind me.”

Much like Welp put the first inning-plus behind him, he and his teammates must now do the same with Game 1. As impressive a win as it was, Boland was quick to point out that it takes two to win a series — and a lot more than that to win a championship.

“Tomorrow’s a different day. Stringer’s a good club. They won’t go down without any kind of fight,” Boland said. “We have to humble ourselves back down, get that level back down to even keel. We don’t need to come out with any kind of mentality that we’ve got it, because we don’t.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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