By Zack Farmer
DALY CITY – After allowing the Sacred Heart Cathedral baseball team to cut its early lead to a single run, St. Ignatius blew its West Catholic Athletic League playoff matchup with the Irish open with a nine-run third inning on its way to a 19-8 first-round win on Tuesday at Marchbank Park.
“It was huge,” St. Ignatius head coach Matthew Stetcher said of the big inning. “It made our guys feel a little more comfortable about what was going on.”
St. Ignatius (18-7-1) got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning, when leadoff hitter Nico Giarratano homered to deep right right.
The Wildcats piled on in the second and, following an intentional walk to Matt Krook and with three runs already in, junior starting pitcher Jack Stinn had a two-out single to left that scored two more runs, extending the lead to 6-0.
“Our offense has been doing great lately,” Stinn said. “Every game versus [Sacred Heart] is a tough one. They always battle and they never gave up.”
And battle the Irish (14-12) did, coming back in the top of the third.
After retiring two of the first three batters in the inning, Stinn struggled to find the strike zone and when got he hit, he got hit hard.
Sacred Heart right fielder Jack Harrington stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and worked the count full before singling to left field to score both Mike Wallace and Manny Serrano.
Chris Viloria continued the hit parade with a two-RBI triple to left after he had fallen behind in the count 1-2.
The Irish had four straight two-out hits in the third and they scored five times, cutting the lead to 6-5.
St. Ignatius responded immediately and in a big way.
The Wildcats scored again on a RBI triple from Matt Debenedetti and following a groundout, St. Ignatius had three straight hits, two for RBIs, which pushed the lead to 9-5.
Stinn, who had been chased from the mound in the top half of the third inning, came up again after a second intentional walk to Krook.
The junior hit a double into the left-field gap, which drove in two more runs and extended the St. Ignatius lead to 11-5.
“[Stinn is] a competitor, so regardless of the situation, he’s going to do his best and won’t get flustered by what’s going on,” Stetcher said. “He struggled on the mound, but he relishes the chance to come back and compete.”
Stinn finished 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs and allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings on the mound.
St. Ignatius, the WCAL’s second seed, will face No. 3 Valley Christian in the WCAL semifinals on Wednesday at San Jose Municipal Stadium and will have its ace, Collin Monsour, on the mound against the Warriors.
Monsour carries a 1.52 ERA into the game and in his last outing against Valley Christian, he went six innings, while allowing two runs and seven hits as a part of a 7-4 St. Ignatius win.