With exception to their 7-2 loss to rival Jesuit, Archbishop Shaw has competed tooth and nail in Catholic League play thus far, producing three close encounters.
The Eagles just haven’t managed to make the play to lift them, succumbing to Holy Cross, Rummel and Brother Martin by a combined three runs.
“Technically, we’re one base hit away from winning against Rummel, we’re a pitch away from winning another one against Brother Martim, another base hit away from winning against Holy Cross,” Shaw coach Kyle Bullinger said. “We’re talking about three plays here. As luck would happen, we didn’t get those breaks and didn’t make those breaks.”
Saturday, the Eagles (18-10, 2-4) reversed their misfortune, and then halted Holy Cross’ comeback, winning 8-4 against the Tigers at John Ryan Stadium.
Right-handed starter Jace Nini threw a complete game. Nini struck out five and allowed four runs and seven hits for the Eagles, who handed Holy Cross (18-11, 5-2) its third straight loss and climbed to fourth in the standings.
“I just tried to work my two-seam fastball on both sides of the plate and sink it in on them,” Nini said. “They’ve been swinging the bat very well, probably the hottest in district, and I know they were anxious to swing at it after their previous loss.”
Shaw’s break came in the bottom of the fifth. Holy Cross summoned star reliever Brenden Taravella from the bullpen to face Shaw’s Josh Pantoja with the bases loaded after Tigers starter Cyle Clayton surrendered an RBI double and walked two consecutive batters.
Pantoja smacked a 2-1 pitch to shallow right field, which snuck under the glove of Holy Cross’ diving outfield and rolled to the wall, scoring three base runners to provide Shaw a 5-1 cushion as part of a four-run inning.
The Eagles weren’t finished, though.
In the ensuing inning, Caiden Reid crushed a ball to the left field wall, adding two additional runs before Pantoja hit a sacrifice fly RBI to center.
“When we focus and stay within our approach, we’re a really good team,” said Shaw’s David Stanford, whose RBI single to left inched the Eagles ahead 2-1.
“That showed today.”
Through six, Nini stymied Tigers batters. Clayton belted an RBI single to shallow left field in the top of the second, but Holy Cross remained quiet the remainder of the way until the seventh.
The Tigers’ Mickey Toscano hit an RBI single, Clayton scored a fielder’s choice RBI and Chris Turpin smacked in an RBI double to reduce their deficit to four runs, but grounded out and struck out.
Pantoja tallied a team-high two RBIs on 2-of-2 hitting.
“The difference this time for us was that we got a lot of big hits out there,” Bullinger said. “We got two-out hits, extra-base RBI hits, things like that. That helps tremendously.”