Through two innings, John Curtis’ stat line read as follows: walk, walk, hit by pitch, RBI walk, walk, walk, single.
The Patriots stacked base runners with ease but whiffed on opportunities to convert them, stranding six on base while managing a single run.
In the top third, though, John Curtis broke through. The LHSAA top-ranked 3A team in the power rankings compiled four runs on three hits and a wild pitch en route to upending Archbishop Shaw 13-5 at Mike Miley Field Saturday.
“We faced (Zach) Autin in the summer, and we knew that he’s a guy that throws the ball hard and effectively wild, so we had to stay off of bad pitches. That’s what we did. We did enough to get his pitch count up a little bit, and then they had to go to their bullpen,” Patriots coach Johnny Curtis said.
“We haven’t been swinging the bat well the last couple of weeks, and we kind of turned it around on Lusher. I think we had 10 hits (against Lusher) and then nine hits today, so our effort was much better and is improving.”
AJ Huff went 1-for-1 in five at-bats, tallying three walks, a hit by pitch, three RBIs and two runs while right-handed starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera tossed a two-hitter in four innings for the Patriots (16-3).
“We want to be aggressive at the plate in each at-bat but at the same time be patient,” Huff said. “We don’t want to force anything and chase after pitches. So, we waited and made him throw in the strike zone.”
Conversely, the Eagles (17-10) struggled with pitch command and location, using five pitchers against the Patriots — four in five innings. Rotation adjustments commenced when Shaw relieved starter Autin after one inning. Autin walked six but did give up a hit.
From there, the Eagles continued their downward spiral.
Two Patriots singles paved the way for Myles Washington’s RBI single to shallow center field, Huff scoring on a wild pitch, Nick Wilson’s RBI grounder, Kody Schexnyder scoring on an errant throw. That sequence pushed Curtis’ cushion to 5-0 after three innings.
John Curtis scored two runs apiece in the fifth and in the sixth innings and capped the game with two runs in the seventh — one of them a solo home run to right field by Cabrera that counteracted a comeback by Shaw, which pieced together five of their seven total hits in the sixth inning including Caiden Reid’s three-run homer to right field.
“We scored through a number of different ways — being patient at the plate taking walks, guys driving in runs, guys stealing bases on errors. That’s a sign of a team. It’s hard not to be selfish, trying to hit one out of the park,” Curtis said.
“Cabrera turned around and swung on one late in the game. He wasn’t looking for a home run. He told me he was looking for a ball middle in, and he got one. He took a quality swing. To me, that is an unselfish swing that happened to be a good swing on a good pitch that went for a homer. That’s what we teach, taking good swings and being unselfish out there.”