Central Hinds takes Round 1 from St. Al
Published 7:53 am Thursday, April 12, 2018
RAYMOND — The St. Aloysius Flashes lost a game on Tuesday, but they haven’t lost everything — or anything, really.
Spencer Smith hit a two-run home run, and then moved to the mound and squelched a rally by St. Al in the seventh inning to lead Central Hinds to a 4-3 victory in the first half of a pivotal District 3-AAA baseball series.
The two teams will play again Friday at Bazinsky Field. Central Hinds (10-7, 5-1 District 3-AAA) can effectively clinch the district title with another victory, but St. Al (15-2, 7-2) can still win it by beating the Cougars by two runs or more. There are other scenarios where St. Al can take the district title, but most involve winning Friday’s rematch.
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With that in mind, the Flashes returned to practice Wednesday trying to erase the sting of a close loss and look to the future.
“We still have everything right out in front of us. We still have a chance at the district championship. People are going to respond, and I think we’re going to do it,” said St. Al shortstop Kieran Theriot, who had an RBI singled and scored twice on Tuesday. “We’ll be anxious. We’ll be chomping at the bit ready to play them.”
The margin of victory was as important as the result in Tuesday’s game — the first tiebreaker if the teams split the series is head-to-head run differential — and both teams either missed chances to add to their total or gave the other side some extra margin for error.
Two errors by St. Al, one in the first inning and another in the third, led to two runs for Central Hinds. In between, Smith belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth as the Cougars took a 4-0 lead.
Central Hinds had a chance for a lot more. It had the bases loaded with one out, but only got one run out of it.
“That would have been the ballgame. We had our chances and didn’t do it,” CHA coach Doug Shanks said.
Central Hinds pitcher Jackson Smith breezed through the first four innings with six strikeouts, but ran into trouble in the fifth once he got the lead. Smith issued a leadoff walk to Wes Warnock and threw a wild pitch before giving up RBI singles to Theriot and Josh Collins that let the Flashes cut it to 4-2.
Jackson Smith then hit Theriot and Thomas Phillips to start the seventh before giving way to Spencer Smith.
Collins reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs, and Ethan Parmegiani hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Theriot and cut it to 4-3. That was all the Flashes could get, though. Spencer Smith struck out the next two batters to finish the game and give Central Hinds a marginal leg up going into Friday.
Although his team wasn’t able to pull out the win, St. Al coach Sid Naron said getting some runs in the back half of the game was important.
“With the way this works with the run differential, that was really big. You’d like to be able to tie the game up and go ahead there. We had some great opportunities. But that’s baseball,” Naron said.
Now the teams turn toward Friday, when St. Al might have a couple of advantages. Not only will it be at home, but it doesn’t play again before then. Central Hinds, meanwhile, has a game Thursday against St. Andrew’s that might deplete its pitching rotation a bit.
Naron was optimistic about the Flashes’ situation.
“I felt like we could have taken advantage of some things early in the game and we didn’t,” Naron said. “But the reality is this — the division championship is still in front of you. Everything is still in front of you going into Friday. They’re coming into your backyard. Now our guys have just got to respond. I think they will.”
PCA 4, Riverfield 3
Porter’s Chapel Academy scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning Tuesday to beat Riverfield Academy.
Kyle Guider delivered a go-ahead, two-run single and pitched six innings to earn the victory. Bradley McCullough had two hits and picthed the seventh inning to get a save.
Wade Dickard also doubled in two runs for PCA.
Porter’s Chapel and Riverfield will play again Friday at 6 p.m. at PCA.