By Jason Lowder
International High School failed to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities in a 6-1 loss to the Rolling Hills Prep on Friday at Navy Field in Lomita, opening a set of three games in Southern California.
“We had the bases loaded three times and failed to produce,” said International Head Coach Anthony Thomas. “Obviously, the players know we have to come away with runs in those situations.”
The Jaguars loaded the bases in their half of the first, fifth, and sixth innings, with less than two outs, but were shut down by Huskies pitching.
“I like the resiliency of our pitchers,” said Rolling Hills Head Coach Will Boguille. “Each of our [pitchers] loaded the bases and were able to work out of it.”
Jaguars lead-off hitter Clay Blozies started the game by reaching base on a throwing error, then Rolling Hills starter Chad Kim then got himself into further trouble by walking Brian Benavides and hitting Seth Matthews to load the bases. Kim then bared down and struck out the next three batters he faced.
If International (4-5) gained any momentum by threatening in the first, two swings of the bat erased it.
Gionni Brown, Rolling Hills’ first man to face International starting pitcher Jordan Malik, sent his second pitch sailing over the center field fence for a lead off home run. One fastball later, Rolling Hills first baseman T.J. Shepard easily cleared the short left field fence to cap the back-to-back shots. Malik wasn’t out of the woods yet, however, as Huskies catcher Johman Ingram walked, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a fielders choice before scoring on another Malik wild pitch, putting Rolling Hills (4-4) on top 3-0.
“Mistakes cost [us] runs,” Thomas said.
Kim proceeded to baffle Jaguar hitters after his shaky start, giving up one run on two hits while striking out seven in four innings of work.
Although Malik got off to a rough start, he was able to help his own cause with a two-out single in the second inning. Benavides produced the Jaguars only run with an opposite-field double that scored Malik later in the inning.
Like Malik, Kim helped his cause as well, starting a three-run third inning with a sharply hit double to right.
Brown replaced Kim on the mound in the fifth and was greeted prompty with singles by Blozies, Benavides, and Jackson Drolet. But like Kim in the first, Brown bore down and retired Noah Morton and pinch-hitter Dash Cueves to end the inning.
The Jaguars threatened to score again, loading the bases in the sixth after Shepard (now pitching in relief) gave up a single to Jacob Bogdanov and hit Malik in between Drolet’s sacrifice bunt and a Bloszies strikeout. Shepard then walked Benavides to load the bases, but struck out Matthews stymie the threat for the third time in the game.
“This is the most lop-sided loss of the season for us,” said Thomas. “The kids battled, that was important. This is not a 4-5 team.”
International travels to Playa del Rey for a double header today against St. Bernard and Lennox to finish up a three game trip to Southern California.
Thomas expects the Jaguars to rebound.
“We’ve got are number one [pitcher] going tomorrow,” Thomas said. “It’s gut check time.”