By Jeremy Balan
St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral were not only tied heading into the sixth inning, but faced a nearly identical situation in each half of the frame.
Tied at 2-2, both teams had bases-loaded jams chase their respective starting pitchers in the sixth. The Wildcats cashed in on the opportunity and the Irish did not, resulting in a 5-2 St. Ignatius win in West Catholic Athletic League play on Monday at Moscone Recreation Center.
In the top half of the inning, St. Ignatius (8-7, 4-4) loaded the bases on two singles from Matt Krook and Kyle Tillinghast, and a walk from Nico Giarratano, chasing Sacred Heart starter Chris Miguel off the mound.
Miguel’s replacement, right-hander Ryan Mussman, walked St. Ignatius catcher Charlie Goldensohn to plate the go-ahead run, then surrendered a two-run single to Jack Klein to give the Wildcats some breathing room.
“Bases loaded has been where we’ve been coming up short lately,” said St. Ignatius head coach Matt Stecher. “We didn’t get all of the hits we needed, but we got enough. It was nice to see the offense come alive.”
But the Irish (8-7, 1-7) still had a golden opportunity to even the score. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, St. Ignatius starter Johnny Mrlik was ejected for using profanity in an interaction with an umpire after allowing two runners to reach base.
His replacement, fellow senior left-hander Adam Goldstein came in cold and it showed, as he walked Sacred Heart shortstop Gino Franco to bring Tevin Goodwin to the plate, representing the go-ahead run.
Goodwin made solid contact, but hit the ball right at the shortstop Giarratano, who simply stepped on second base to end the threat.
“It’s frustrating to lose, but you can only control what you can control,” said Sacred Heart head coach Brian Morgan. “Did we have a good at-bats? Yes. Did we hit the ball well? Yes. But so did they…It’s just baseball. You figure it’s going to roll the other way at some point. If that ball goes through, we’re right in it and then who knows.”
Sacred Heart would not threaten again, as Goldstein retired the Irish in order in the seventh to seal the win and the four-out save.
“I wasn’t expecting to go in under quite those circumstances, but I wanted to come in, throw strikes, get in a grove and get the job done,” Goldstein said. “Those are the situations that feel the best, coming in and getting the job done.”
After surrendering two runs in the first inning, Mrlik shut the Irish down the rest of the way, going 5 1/3 innings to get the win.
“He really settled in [after the first inning], and probably would have gone the rest of the way if he didn’t get tossed,” Stecher said. “It was a good outing.”
For the Irish, WCAL struggles continue after they picked up their first league win over Bellarmine on Friday.
“As long as we’re playing like this, I don’t have a problem,” Morgan said. “Our pitchers are battling and we’re playing good defense. They’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, but we just can’t find a hit. I’m happy with the way we’re playing and we’re getting better, but in this league sometimes getting better is not enough.”
SI – Lennox Donlon singles, Luke Pappas scores
SH – Nick Nussbaum singles, Dominic Defiesta scores
SH – Patrick Sheehan sacrifice fly, Maurice Fuller scores
SI – Kyle Tillinghast scores on throwing error
SI – Charlie Goldensohn walks, Anthony Clifford scores
SI – Jack Klein singles, Tillinghast and Nico Giarratano scores