When Cass Hargis took over as the Holy Cross baseball coach, he wanted his team to focus on each approaching game as if it had the same importance as the last.
But there was no denying that the intensity would go up once Catholic League play began.
The Tigers (8-10, 1-0) rose to the occasion and beat St. Augustine 6-1 in their District 9-5A opener at Wesley Barrow Stadium on Thursday night.
“This win was big for us in general, but it definitely takes on more importance because it’s in the Catholic League,” Hargis said. “We just wanted to come out and play with some intensity, and our guys did a good job of responding.”
After grabbing the lead in the first inning, Holy Cross broke the game open with a four-run third inning and never looked back.
Grant Schulz gave the Tigers their first RBI hit with a double to left field that scored one and gave Holy Cross a 3-0 lead. After a St. Aug balk gave the Tigers a run, Chris Collet hit an RBI double that made it 5-0.
Holy Cross came in on a four- game losing streak, but it hopes Thursday’s win over the Purple Knights can light a fire under the team as it continues district play.
“It’s always good to start off hot in district, obviously,” said Schulz, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. “We just came together as a team and said we were going to put those past few games behind us and start off fresh tonight.”
Cody McNeil was also a strong presence on the mound for Holy Cross, pitching a complete game and allowing one run on four hits with two strikeouts.
“Cody was just unbelievable for us tonight,” Hargis said. “He just threw strikes and played well. That’s the thing. When we throw strikes, we can be a really good team.”
After losing a heartbreaker in the district opener against Shaw, the Purple Knights (9-6-1) fall to 0-2 in the Catholic League and begin to search for answers after allowing the momentum to slip away from a hot start to the season.
St. Aug lost its first game in District 9-5A against Shaw on Tuesday in heartbreaking fashion after a seventh-inning collapse, but Purple Knights coach Ryan Sims won’t use the loss as an excuse and said he expects his team to bounce back.
“That loss had nothing to do with tonight,” Sims said. “The kids we have are very resilient, and they will bounce back. (Holy Cross) just played better than us tonight.”