Late-season losing streak puts St. Al’s playoff hopes in jeopardy

Published 6:21 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A couple of weeks ago the St. Aloysius Flashes were cruising toward at least a berth in the MAIS Class AAA baseball playoffs, if not a district title.

Now they’re down to one last chance to keep it all from evaporating.

Central Hinds scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday night at Bazinsky Field to blow open a close game and beat St. Al 6-3.

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It was the fourth loss in five games for St. Al (11-7, 6-3 District 3-AAA), three of them within the district. The losing streak has thrust them into what is essentially a one-game playoff Friday against Central Hinds in Raymond. The Flashes need to win by at least three runs to make up the run differential tiebreaker and keep the season alive.

If St. Al wins by four or more, it will move ahead of Central Hinds in the standings and clinch the second and final playoff spot in District 3-AAA. If Central Hinds wins or loses by one or two runs, then it is the No. 2 seed.

If St. Al wins by three runs on Friday, it and Central Hinds will have a one-game playoff next week to determine the second seed.

Riverfield Academy has clinched the district championship.

“Like I told them tonight, your playoff opportunity is still ahead of you. You know what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to go over there and win by at least three. So it’s going to be a challenge for sure,” St. Al coach Sid Naron said. “We definitely have to swing the bat better. We’re not swinging the bat. We have to have a better plan at the plate, and that falls back on me as the coach. We’re going to do everything we can going into Friday. We’ve got to get back to business and back to fundamentals and make some people wake up a little bit.”

St. Al had 10 hits in Tuesday’s game against Central Hinds — Wes Warnock, Tyler Breithaupt and Thomas Phillips each had two — but couldn’t push many runs across the plate.

Central Hinds pitcher Carson Turner allowed only two runs, one earned, in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked none before giving way to Hunter Williams for the last two outs.

“We’ve run into some good pitching. (Turner) was very, very effective locating and mixing well. We hit some balls really hard right at people. Things just did not go our way tonight, and it feels like it’s been that way for about a week and a half,” Naron said.

The Flashes also had a couple of critical self-inflicted wounds.

Blake Pierce tripled and scored on a single by Beau Coumbe in the top of the sixth inning to put Central Hinds ahead 3-1. Another hit and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, but St. Al pitcher Haden Luke got a strikeout and looked like he might escape the jam with minimal damage.

Then Luke Knight lined a single to right field to bring in two runs. A bad throw to third base allowed another run to score, and all of a sudden the Cougars had a 6-1 lead.

“We had a well-hit ball to right and misplayed it out there, and we turned one error into two and those two errors turned into three runs,” Naron said. “That’s a killer. In these kinds of games you can’t do that. You’ve got to play error-free baseball and be fundamentally sound. They were and we weren’t.”

If there was one silver lining for the Flashes, it came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Three singles, the last by Kieran Theriot, and an error got them two runs back. It didn’t make a difference in Tuesday’s outcome, but did make their task Friday a little more manageable.

Naron was also hopeful that it gives them some momentum heading into the rematch.

“I think it’s one hit, one pitch from turning it completely around,” Naron said. “If you find a way to win by three on Friday and regain some confidence, sometimes it’s hard to stop and we’ve got to get some of that on Friday.”

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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