High school baseball teams don’t often give the burden of closing games to one pitcher on a game-to-game basis, but most teams don’t have a closer like Brendan Taravella.
The right-handed side-winder pitched two innings to compile his sophomore school-record seventh save and helped guide Holy Cross (13-8, 2-0 in 9-5A) to a 5-3 victory over Brother Martin in a Catholic League matchup at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Friday night.
After Holy Cross right-hander Alfonso Aguilar pitched a nearly flawless three innings to start the game, Brother Martin finally got their offense going in the fourth inning.
Jonathan Parker opened the inning forcing a walk, and after Michael Kirsch smacked a double to right field, Jacob Parker looped a single to center field that brought both runners home and cut the Crusaders’ deficit to 3-2 with one out left in the inning.
Despite Brother Martin (12-8, 0-2) threatening to usurp the Holy Cross lead, Aguilar kept his composure on the mound and, after pinch-runner Scott Corrente was thrown out trying to steal second base, the senior struck out Crusaders outfielder Luke Bernard to escape the inning with the lead.
Aguilar (3-0) threw five innings, allowing three hits and two runs with five strikeouts.
The Tigers added two more runs in the seventh inning to give Taravella the necessary cushion to hold off the Crusaders,
The Tigers were able to get to Brother Martin starting pitcher Corey Gaconi (1-2) early in Friday’s game and got on the scoreboard first.
Outfielder Tre’ Turner led off the second inning with double that soared over the head of Brother Martin center fielder Blair Frederick, and two batters later, Cole Nalesnik smacked an RBI single to center field that gave Holy Cross an early 1-0 lead.
Wes Robinson and Matt Muhlisen opened the third with singles, then Christian Clayton and Grant Schulz each followed that up with RBI singles to push their lead over the Crusaders to 3-0 heading into the fourth inning.
Schulz finished the game 1-for-3 at the plate and added his team-leading 20th RBI of the season.
After a disappointing 1-5 start to the season, Brother Martin ran off a streak of 11 wins in 12 games and it appeared they may have found their way right in time for a run at a third straight Catholic League title. But after Friday’s loss, that gives the Crusaders losses in their first two games in Catholic-League play.
DENHAM SPRINGS 8, HAHNVILLE 5:
Brittany Case infield single set the table for a sixth-inning uprising which as the Yellow Jackets scored four runs on six hits in a victory in the 18th Annual Live Oak tournament.
Denham Springs, which collected 13 hits, ended Hahnville’s four-game win streak.
Hahnvile lost to Denham Springs for the second time in nearly two weeks, falling 10-3 at the St. Amant tournament.
the inning right fielder Bailey Fucich added another two-run single.
“We stay calm when the pressure’s on,” said Thompson, who went 4-for-4 and drove in three runs. “We’ve got trust in each other. We have to swing at pitches we know we can hit hard and we’ve got to make the plays we know we can make.”
In the first game of the day, Denham Springs faced Archbishop Hannan in a later game at the Live Oak Sports Complex, matched two of the state’s Top 10 teams in Class 5A.
Hahnville, which was riding a four-game win streak and leads District 7-5A, lost to Denham Springs for the second time in nearly two weeks, falling 10-3 at the St. Amant tournament.
“The bottom line is when you have two good 5A teams playing you want to be in a position at the end to win,” Hahnville coach Jerry Nugent said. “They got the hits they needed and I tip my cap to Denham. That was about Denham executing. It wasn’t about us lacking somewhere.”
Three runs on three hits staked Hahnville to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first on Sarah Vauetta’s 2-run single with the bases loaded. Kamryn Keller added a sacrifice fly to drive in Pryscilla Prince.
Denham Springs closed to within 5-3 with two runs in the second on an RBI-single up the middle from Case, who later beat the throw home on outfield error.
Sophomore Allison Irby (4-1) came on in relief of starter Hollie Morrison and completely silenced Hahnville’s offense, allowing one hit in three scoreless innings.
“She came in and changed the momentum,” Bourque said. “Hollie did a great job of keeping us close. Irby came in and got ahead of batters and that helps us.”
Thompson scored on a wild pitch in the fifth after leading off the inning with a triple. Her game-winning single an inning later came on a 1-0 pitch that scored Case and Harli Crow.
“We just do what we always do and that’s continue to fight,” Bourque said. “Hahnville’s a quality team. It’s a game and you have to keep playing. Anything can happen. They never quit.”