By Bonta Hill
St. Ignatius didn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball, but it scored enough to outlast Archbishop Riordan High School 5-2 at Riordan on Tuesday in West Catholic Athletic League play.
The Wildcats (7-6, 3-3) took advantage of 11 walks, which led to four unearned runs issued by the Crusaders (7-4, 1-3).
Collin Monsour, the Wildcats’ No. 1 pitcher, shook early struggles in the first two innings to pitch five frames, before passing the ball to Nick Formanek and Jack Klein, as they helped St. Ignatius move to .500 in league action.
“Definitely happy with the win,” said St. Ignatius head coach Matt Stecher. “We played good defense backed by some good pitching, and that made the difference today.”
Riordan had its chances to get back in the contest, but couldn’t get the big hit against its crosstown rival.
After falling behind 2-1 in the top of the second, Riordan loaded the bases in the bottom half on three straight two-out singles.
But Monsour got Riordan left fielder Greg Ivory to fly out to shallow right to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Riordan had one more chance to threaten when Formanek relieved Monsour. Formanek gave up a leadoff single to A.J. Santiago, who then stole second base, and then hit James Cullinane and Nick Hovland with pitches, loading the bases again.
But Riordan failed to capitalize, as Formanek got Ramiro Alvarez to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to squelch any hope for a Riordan comeback.
“We had our opportunities and we didn’t get a hit when we needed to,” said Riordan head coach Jeff Isola. “We didn’t embarrass ourselves at the plate, but we just couldn’t get the crucial hit.”
St. Ignatius also benefited from Riordan starter Matt Miguel’s struggles on the mound, as he walked seven batters before getting pulled in the third inning. Reliever Zach Grove limited the damage in the third frame, but not before walking two batters himself, giving the Wildcats a 4-1 lead.
“Matt’s biggest struggle is getting ahead of counts, and when he gets behind, he struggles,” Isola said. “He’s been solid for us all year, but today just wasn’t his day.”
For the Wildcats, they next take on Mitty down in San Jose, and Stecher knows his club will have to tighten up. Still, he was happy with his pitching performance.
“[Riordan] helped us out a little bit and we had some trouble executing, and that’ll be our main focus before our next game,” Stecher said. “But our pitching kept us in the game and they did well today.”