By Jeremy Balan
DALY CITY – The Archbishop Riordan High School baseball team took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning against St. Ignatius and that was the end of the good news for the Crusaders on Friday at Marchbank Park.
In the bottom half of the first, St. Ignatius scored 11 runs, just the beginning of a 18-3 West Catholic Athletic League rout of Riordan.
The Wildcats (14-6-1, 8-3-1) sent 16 batters to the plate in the first inning and all 11 of the runs were scored with two outs, when 12 consecutive SI hitters reached base. St. Ignatius finished with 20 total hits and 10 came in the first inning.
The first inning may have been the difference, but the fireworks came later.
The Wildcats hit four home runs after the first to extend their run total higher than any WCAL team has scored in league play this season.
The first long ball came from senior pinch hitter Travis McDow in the third inning, which was followed by another home run on the next at-bat by starting pitcher Matt Krook. McDow struck again in the fourth with a two-run blast to right-center field. His first nearly cleared the scoreboard in left-center.
“Being a part of a team like this, where there are great players all around, and not being a usual starter, I’m just trying to have fun out there and show what I can do,” McDow said. “I just go up there, swing as hard as I can and see what happens.”
Junior Dylan Foster hit the fourth home run in the sixth, a pulled two-run shot over the left-field wall. Foster also wasn’t in the starting lineup and 13 different St. Ignatius players recorded hits.
McDow led the Wildcats with a team-high three RBIs, but Foster, third baseman Kyle Tillinghast, shortstop Nico Giarratano, center fielder Jack Stinn and left fielder Nick Formanek all added two RBIs apiece.
“It was just a breakout day,” said St. Ignatius head coach Matt Stecher. “It was a good day for the bats and so many of the hits came from guys coming right off the bench.”
On the mound, Krook allowed only three hits, but walked seven Riordan hitters in just three innings of work. With a double-digit lead, Stecher needed a strike-thrower and found one in right-hander Connor Cucalon.
The senior came on in relief in the fourth inning, threw 14 consecutive strikes to start his outing and went two scoreless innings to pick up the win. Formanek took over to pitch the final two innings and didn’t allow a hit.
“[Krook] has had a little bit of trouble in his last couple of outings and he just needs to make some mechanical changes,” Stecher said. “The bullpen has been strong for us and we had one bad outing from them [against Sacred Heart Cathedral], but for the most part, they don’t give up runs.”
Not much went well for the Crusaders (11-11, 2-9), but hidden in the lopsided box score are a few rays of hope.
Two of the five Riordan hits came from sophomore junior varsity call-ups Dante Biagini and Christopher Edwards.
Biagini, playing in his first
varsity WCAL varsity game and taking over at shortstop for injured senior standout Ismael Orozco, singled in the first inning and scored the first run of the game on a double from junior James Cullinane. Edwards started at catcher and went 1-for-3 with a single in the third inning.
Still, the Crusaders remain in last place and have lost six straight WCAL games.
“It’s a learning experience for us, but it’s a funny game,” said Riordan head coach Matt Gallegos. “You celebrate today and you’re a loser tomorrow. This league is unforgiving, but my kids didn’t stop battling. It was just one of those games where we had to take our lumps.”
For the Wildcats, the outlook is a bit brighter. St. Ignatius sits in third place, just a half-game behind second-place Valley Christian and a full game behind St. Francis, which was upset by Serra on Friday.
“It’s important for us to take care of our own stuff and not get bogged down with who is beating who,” Stecher said. “We just want to play as well as we can and the other stuff will take care of itself, but it is exciting to see the possibilities and how they unfold.”
R – James Cullinane doubles, Dante Biagini scores
SI – Jack Stinn singles, Nico Giarratano scores
SI – Kyle Tillinghast doubles, Matt Krook scores
SI – Matt Debenedetti hit by a pitch, Stinn scores
SI – Nick Formanek singles, Tillinghast and Christian Santos score
SI – Debenedetti scores on a throwing error
SI – Giarratano doubles, Fomanek scores
SI – Charlie Goldensohn doubles, Giarratano scores
SI – Nick Johnson singles, Goldensohn scores
SI – Stinn doubles, Johnson scores
SI – Tillinghast singles, Krook scores
R – Dante Biagini walks, Anthony Ramirez scores
R – Sean Donovan reaches on a fielder’s choice, Eduardo Santos scores
SI – Travis McDow homers
SI – Krook homers
SI – McDow homers, Nate Miller scores
SI – Giarratano doubles, Jandro Bracht scores
SI – Dylan Foster homers, Jason Lock scores