By Jeremy Balan
PACIFICA — Two years ago, St. Ignatius pitcher Collin Monsour closed out the final leg of the Bruce-Mahoney series with a pressure-packed seventh-inning save as a sophomore.
This year, as the Wildcats’ ace, the senior barely broke a sweat.
Monsour threw a complete-game shutout in a 3-0 St. Ignatius win over rival Sacred Heart Cathedral in West Catholic Athletic League play on Thursday at Fairmont Park.
The Cal-bound right-hander allowed four hits, struck out eight and walked none on just 89 pitches.
“He’s skilled and very efficient,” said St. Ignatius head coach Matthew Stecher. “Even more than his talent, he has a great head and doesn’t get flustered. No matter what the situation is, he’s calm and pitches with confidence.”
The key for Monsour was a deadly-accurate fastball that he used to pound the outside corner.
“It’s always good to beat these guys and it’s a game we look forward to all season,” Monsour said. “Our rotation is one of, if not the best rotation [in the league]. When the bats show up, we can beat anyone on any day.”
The St. Ignatius bats didn’t come out in force, but the Wildcats (11-4-1, 5-1-1) scored a run on a sacrifice fly from second baseman Matt Debenedetti in the second inning and got some much-needed breathing room in the fifth.
After a leadoff single from senior right fielder Nick Johnson, junior Matt Krook launched a deep fly ball to left for a RBI triple, and three batters later, catcher Charlie Goldensohn lined a double down the left-field line to drive Krook in.
Krook’s blast appeared to be a routine fly ball at first, but the ball carried well over the Sacred Heart outfielders and hit the left-field fence on a few bounces, approximately 400 feet away.
“Matt has always had power and he did a good job of staying inside an outside pitch,” Stecher said. “We were struggling to do that today, but he crushed that ball.”
The final two runs chased Sacred Heart starter Mike Wallace out of the game, but the junior right-hander had kept pace with Monsour until that point. Wallace threw considerably more pitches than Monsour, however, and was at 100 throws when he was removed with two outs in the fifth.
Like Monsour, Wallace consistently hit the outside corner with his fastball and struck out seven SI batters.
“If you can throw that pitch at that location, the best you can do is maybe hit the ball up the middle or the other way, and most high school hitters can’t do it,” said Sacred Heart head coach Brian Morgan. “There was no mystery. We knew what Monsour was going to do and they probably knew what Wallace was going to do. They just kept hammering it out there.”
The Irish’s bugaboo continues to be at the plate and they have scored just 11 runs in six league games. First baseman Manny Serrano was the only Irish player to record more than one hit, with two singles, and Sacred Heart (9-5, 1-5) only advanced four players into scoring position.
“All six games have been the same,” Morgan said. “Our pitcher throws well, we play pretty good [defense] and we get runners on. It’s not like were up there striking out 12 times or can’t get the ball out of the infield. Even when we won last week against Serra, it’s the same game.”
The Wildcats have been having struggles of their own offensively and stranded nine baserunners on Thursday. St. Ignatius hit just .167 with runners in scoring position and couldn’t push a run across with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning, when Wallace struck out three consecutive SI batters to get out of the jam.
“I feel like a broken record, but we have to execute with runners in scoring position,” Stecher said. “If we want to reach our goal of being at the top [of the league], that has to happen.”
The SI pitching rotation and batting order took a bit of a hit on Wednesday, when junior Jack Klein, the Wildcats’ No. 2 starting pitcher, starting center fielder and No. 3 hitter, injured the wrist of his throwing arm on a play at the plate against Palo Alto. He will get an MRI on Friday, but could miss as much as a month.
“We’re definitely less without him, but we’re going to take it slowly, so we’re sure we get the right diagnosis and don’t bring him back too soon,” Stecher said.
Stecher pushed Johnson from the No. 2 spot to No. 3 to replace Klein in the lineup and the senior responded with two singles and a run scored on Thursday. Johnson also had two hits against Palo Alto on Wednesday.
“He doesn’t have the power that Jack has, but he puts the ball in play and gets on base,” Stecher said. “That’s what we need out of our No. 3 hitter. We’re going to keep trying that out in our tournament next week and see if it sticks.”
SI – Matt Debenedetti sacrifice fly, Jack Stinn scores
SI – Matt Krook triples, Nick Johnson scores
SI – Charlie Goldensohn doubles, Krook scores