over St. Bernard
BY VINCE ECHAVARIA
St. Monica High School baseball coach Jack White had a simple answer for how his team pulled out a 5-2 victory late in the game against host St. Bernard High School Friday, April 7th.
Trailing 2-1 at the start of the seventh inning, the St. Monica Mariners (5-7, 3-4) put together a four-run effort to earn the much-needed Del Rey League win.
“It was one word — desperation,” White said of his team’s seventh-inning performance.
“We came into this league game at 2-4 (record). The kids know they can’t afford any more league losses.”
While St. Monica avoided another league defeat with the late rally, the St. Bernard Vikings (2-8, 0-4) remained winless in league play.
“They put the ball in play and we gave them extra bases,” St. Bernard coach Vince Cimmino said of the Mariners.
“I thought we did what we had to do, but we had a couple of bad breaks.”
The Mariners wasted no time putting the ball in play in the seventh inning, as the first batter, junior Michael Duval, hit a double to right field.
A sacrifice bunt by St. Monica junior Nicholas Kemalyan sent Duval to third base, and freshman Brandon Tobin then hit a single up the middle to send Duval home for the tying run at 2-2.
Another key bunt by junior William Pentis, who finished with two hits, sent Tobin home to give the Mariners their first lead at 3-2.
St. Monica stretched its lead to 5-2 late in the inning when Pentis and senior Vince Valdez scored on a single by senior William Thompson.
The Vikings put a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh inning when senior Carlo Ramirez was hit by a pitch, but St. Bernard was unable to add any more runs after St. Monica pitcher Giuliano Lepe ended the game with a strikeout.
While both teams were held scoreless in the first four innings, St. Bernard was in position to score in both the second and third innings, but was halted by the Mariner defense.
St. Bernard sophomore Greg Walker got on third base after a single by senior Stephen Lambert in the second inning, but the Mariners prevented the potential run with a double play to end the inning.
The Mariners were unable to put any runners on base in the first two innings against St. Bernard starting pitcher Dillon Hasty, who finished with two strikeouts in four innings.
St. Bernard had two runners on base in the third inning after a St. Monica fielding error and a single by Brett Bailey, but the Mariner defense, including starting pitcher Taylor Gelbrich, kept the Vikings scoreless.
Valdez, who finished with two hits in the game, gave St. Monica its first hit with a double to right field in the fourth inning, but the Viking defense thwarted any runs.
After St. Monica switched pitchers from Gelbrich to Ricardo Valdez at the start of the fifth inning, St. Bernard took advantage.
Senior Jarred Frierson broke the scoreless tie with a two-run home run over the centerfield wall late in the fifth inning.
But the Mariner offense responded with a score of its own early in the sixth inning. Senior Ruben Gutierrez opened the inning with a double, and Valdez added another RBI (run batted in) double to give the Mariners their first score at 2-1.
Two strikeouts by senior pitcher Peter Zirbel at the end of the sixth inning kept the Vikings narrowly ahead, but St. Monica fought back with its “desperation” rally in the seventh inning.
“I always tell the guys that this game is about defense,” Cimmino said. “If we prevent them from getting extra bases it’s a different ball game.”
St. Monica finished with eight hits in the game to three for St. Bernard, but White said his team needs to work on hitting “with authority.”
“This was one of our better defensive games, but we need to pick it up and hit better,” White said.
The two teams will next play in the Mary Star Tournament Monday, April 17th.