Baseball: St. Ignatius arms shut down Sacred Heart in WCAL opener

St. Ignatius senior starting pitcher Johnny Mrlik sends a pitch toward a Sacred Heart batter on Thursday at Marchbank Park in Daly City. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

DALY CITY — On the surface, the move looked like a head-scratcher.

St. Ignatius senior left-hander Johnny Mrlik was dealing, striking out four in three innings of no-hit ball against rival Sacred Heart Cathedral at Marchbank Park.

But still not in perfect baseball shape after an extended run in basketball, Mrlik was pulled at the beginning of the fourth for junior right-hander Nick Formanek. Formanek lost the no hitter in the fifth, but held the Irish scoreless the rest of the way in a 4-0 win in both teams’ West Catholic Athletic League opener.

“We would have loved for him to go longer, but we were a little concerned with how his arm was doing after he came in late from basketball,” St. Ignatius coach Matt Stecher said. “He’s a little bit behind, but he’s definitely got the skills to be our No. 1 [starter].”

Mrlik wasn’t even supposed to start, but got the call just hours before the game after scheduled starter Collin Monsour was ruled out due to an illness.

“My arm’s just not in shape and hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to go five or six [innings],” Mrlik said. “I was definitely getting the tingling a little bit, but I’m just happy we won.”

The Wildcats (6-3, 1-0) only had six hits of their own, but cashed in when they needed to.

Sacred Heart senior second baseman Dominic Defiesta (center) flips the ball to junior shortstop Gino Franco (left) for a force out, while St. Ignatius' Charlie Goldensohn slides in on Thursday at Marchbank Park in Daly City. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Senior center fielder Kevin Barker opened the scoring with a RBI double that one-hopped the left-field wall in the first inning, then a two-out, two-run single from junior third baseman Kyle Tillinghast put the game out of reach in the fifth.

“We didn’t unload with the bats, but we got key hits when we needed to,” Stecher said. “We had runners in position to score with that. It was nothing amazing or spectacular, but we’ll take it.”

While the Irish (5-1, 0-1) bats struggled, only recording two hits in the game, the patient Wildcats’ lineup made Sacred Heart starter Chris Miguel work and chased him from the game after the fifth inning.

Miguel allowed four runs (two earned), but struggled with location at times, walking three and hitting two batters.

“They had a couple well-hit balls, but he did what he was supposed to do, keep us in the game on the road,” Sacred Heart coach Brian Morgan said. “He pitched well enough for us to win.”

Because St. Ignatius won both Bruce-Mahoney football and basketball games, the game doesn’t actually count as a part of the series, but for the Wildcats, any win over the Irish, regardless of circumstance, is a good day.

“It was a little lower key than last year, but it’s still our first league game and any game against [Sacred Heart] is important to us,” Stecher said. “Especially after a shaky preseason, it was nice to hit league the way we did.”

Scoring Summary

First Inning
SI — Kevin Barker doubles, Jack Klein scores

Third Inning
SI — Matt Krook sacrifice fly, Luke Pappas scores

Fifth Inning
SI — Kyle Tillinghast singles, Klein and Barker score

Slideshow by Devin Chen

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  1. IC Stars says:

    So the game went from AT&T Park to Fairmont in Pacifica to Marchbank in Daly City…. The Wreck The Park Department really has it’s work cut out if we’re ever going to see improvements in baseball fields in San Francisco.

    I’ll bet this was the lowest-attended SHC-SI game ever.

  2. Johnny Drama says:

    You mean SI-SHC game… the victor goes the spoils so our name should come first……….and in looking at the picture, our section appears to be quite full.

    Nice win for the CATS!!!

  3. Justa Fan says:

    Good job to the Wildcats. The odds were against them but they were able to come through. Errors for SHC didn’t help….should be another good game come April 5th.

  4. IC Stars says:

    You’re too dramatic Johnny. Justa, you’re right about the errors. Do you have an estimate on the attendance?

    Also, there’s a surprise on the way. You’ll know it when you hear about it.

  5. Justa Fan says:

    I’m thinking attendance will be pretty low …maybe 1000. What do you think?

    Surprise?? Interesting..any hints?

  6. IC Stars says:

    Hmm… it’s about a sport played on grass….

  7. Photographer says:

    Kudos to the photographer. Great action shots in there.

  8. IC Stars says:

    Now where did the earlier comments go? I still have a shocking surprise to unveil.

    • Anonymous says:

      We’re working on a new commenting system… Seems like some are getting lost… Hopefully we can work it out…

      • mechow says:

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  9. Wildcatfanatic says:

    fantastic game played by the cats

  10. SH Alum says:

    SI had better pitching and timely hitting. Poor defense and only 2 his did in the Irish. Kudos to the SI student body for showing up to the game. Embarrassing for SH students not to show.

  11. IC Stars says:

    SH Alum, for all the years I’ve watched Irish baseball, there’s never really been a huge student following. Even when I was in school I’d look around at “only” 250 people and wonder where everybody went? It was a rare day when I’d miss a game.

  12. IC Stars says:

    Justa Fan, here’s another hint: 4-point touchdowns.

  13. Justa Fan says:

    IC Stars…so the surprise has nothing to do with baseball??

  14. Kris Thomas says:

    Photographer…the photos were okay. Would have been good to see other kids on the team be photographed.

  15. IC Stars says:

    No… it’s about football.

  16. IC Stars says:

    …two big cats already know about it but I’ll let you know in case they tell it first.

  17. Justa Fan says:

    4 point touchdowns..Okay, now I’m really interested. Do tell IC Stars!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wilcats lose the last two WCAL games since the Bruce. No hitting. No coaching.

  19. Mitch Bells says:

    Anonymous- I totally feel you on that! What happened to new young coaches with passion for winning! having their team make adjustments! These old guys need to let go of the past and move on!

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