The depth of top-flight arms St. Thomas More’s baseball team expected to throw at opponents hasn’t quite materialized as planned.
A rash of injuries to staff ace and Louisiana-Lafayette signee Hogan Harris, coupled with setbacks to LSU signee Brennan Breaux and Brandon Romero, have left the Cougars 5-2 and vulnerable through the season’s first two weeks.
“It’s been an up and down type roller coaster,” Perkins said. “We’re having to throw some kids that normally don’t start and go as far as they can go and we haven’t held up pitching wise.”
The bumpy start not only resulted in back-to-back losses in last week’s Jesuit Tournament, but the losses have already snapped a 28-game win streak dating to last season with STM subsequently falling out of MaxPreps.com’s Xcellent 25 national poll.
“We’re 5-2, and we haven’t had our top three pitchers, so I guess that’s not too bad,” Perkins said. “We’re playing some of the top competition in the state that are quality teams. We’re not hitting where we need to be hitting right now. That’s usually the case early on.”
STM, the reigning Class 4A state champions, opened the season with five straight wins in the WGNO Classic over Rummel, St. Paul’s, Chalmette, Fontainebleau and Assumption, allowing just over four runs a game.
Harris complained of shoulder stiffness in his one inning against Rummel and was diagnosed with tendinitis in his left shoulder. Breaux injured his hand and popped his (left) throwing shoulder out of place diving back into first base, while Romero missed three weeks of pitching with a slight tear in his shoulder.
Perkins is hopeful all three of the aforementioned pitchers will return when STM takes part in this weekend’s Marucci Tournament at Barbe.
“They all seem ready to go,” Perkins said. “At least we can add that part of our game and should show some signs of improvement.”
The Cougars play Hahnville at 3 p.m. Friday and meet defending Class 5A state champion Barbe at 5:30 p.m. They will also play two games Saturday at noon and 5 p.m. against Riverside Academy and Evangel Christian.
STM plays its first home game March 19 with Class 5A state runner-up Live Oak visiting in the Atchafalaya Challenge.
“We didn’t expect to go undefeated,” Perkins said. “What we do expect is to be healthy and have our best kids on the field and as of this point that hasn’t happened. I’m hoping this weekend we can start putting it together.”
STM ran into difficulties with pitching in its first loss of the season — a marathon 13-12 loss to Brother Martin that took 12 innings and five hours to play.
Perkins said his staff combined to allowed 12 hits, walk 10 batters and hit 10 more.
STM, which led 4-0 and later trailed 7-5 after four innings, regained a 12-11 lead in the top of the 12th on Breaux’s triple and LSU signee O’Neal Lochridge’s RBI-single but surrendered two runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Romero went 5-for-5 with a triple and four RBIs, while Alex Hannie drove in a pair of runs while going 3-for-5.
Less than an hour later, STM was back against host Jesuit with starter Grant Cox delivering a strong effort, pitching the Cougars into the sixth with a 1-0 deficit.
STM loaded the bases in the sixth against Jesuit’s Jack Burke, who allowed four hits and struck out 10, but Christian Leonard grounded out, marking the first time since the opening of the 2014 season the Cougars lost consecutive games.
“The kids may have been disappointed, but we’ve moved on,” Perkins said. “It wasn’t rosy at this time last year for us. I think we’re playing better at this time. We’ve got some good, young players and I’m excited with what I’ve seen so far.”