John Curtis baseball coach Johnny Curtis began his afternoon “a little concerned about the focus” of his team Thursday. His worries were quickly eased.
One swing of the bat from his leadoff hitter and a perfect game pitched by three different pitchers led the Patriots to a 15-0 victory over Vidalia in a Class 3A bidistrict playoff game.
“We look like we might be a team on a mission,” Curtis said reflecting on his No.1-seeded Patriots’ seven-run in the first inning at Mike Miley stadium. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Curtis, a No.2 seed in Class 2A a year ago, lost its second round game 7-2 to No. 15 Kinder at Miley last year. The Patriots advance to play the Union Parish-Notre Dame winner next week. Vidalia finished its season 13-10.
“Last year was heartbreaking,” Curtis said. “In a game like this, at this stage, anything can happen. We were sharp from the beginning today.”
Curtis’ Mossy Mueller drove a 1-2 pitch over the left field wall for a home run and a quick 1-0 advantage. Four more base hits, including a pair of doubles, three errors and six stolen bases produced a 7-0 lead in the first.
The Patriots added one run in the second, three in the third and four in the fourth, including a towering home run by Harry Chairs.
Designated hitter Daniel Cabrera and right fielder Myles Washington each had three hits in three plate appearances for Curtis. Washington scored twice and drove in a pair of runs.
“Mossy’s home run kind of gave us a sense of relief,” Curtis said. “It was a two-strike pitch and Mossy did not try to do too much with it.”
Starting pitcher Evan Hileman (9-2) retired the first nine Vidalia batters, striking out six of the last seven he faced. Relievers Dylan Robinson and Collin Perez both retired the three hitters they faced.
“We got an early lead, and I settled in,” Hileman said. “It’s the perfect way to pitch. I had a little trouble with the breaking ball in the first inning, but after that it was working better.”
Hileman threw strikes to both sides of the plate.
“The fastball on the inside part is tough on hitters,” he said. Four of his six strikeouts were on called strikes.
“Each of our pitchers pounded the strike zone,” Curtis said. “There was a two-week period where we had trouble with that, especially (in loses to) Belle Chasse and Shaw.”
“We’ve been to the semifinals twice and the quarters a couple times ... but we haven’t been able to break through. We hope this is the year.”
Hileman offered a few words of caution.
“The next one is the tough one,” he said referring to next week’s second-round game. “We’ve got to be sharp every game.”