Holy Cross hit Rummel with a dose of their own medicine early but needed to go to what they know best to close out the win.
The Tigers (18-8, 5-0) used their offense to jump out to an early lead, then leaned on Brenden Taravella late to close out a 12-6 win over Rummel in a wild matchup between the top two teams in the Catholic League at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Tuesday night.
“This was a huge win for us,” said Taravella, who picked up the win. “Seeing us go down four early, I know some people expected us to roll over and die, but our guys kept fighting and they gave me a big lead to work with.”
With the win, Holy Cross maintains their undefeated record against Catholic League foes and takes a one-game lead atop the District 9-5A standings halfway through their 10-game district schedule. The win also extends their season-long winning streak to seven games.
“Now we’re one (game) up on Rummel and two (games) up on Jesuit,” Holy Cross coach Greg Battistella said. “Of course, this is the Catholic League, so it’s anybody’s district, but it’s good to give ourselves some cushion.”
With Rummel (16-10, 4-1) threatening to cut into the Holy Cross lead in the bottom of the fourth, Battistella chose to bring out Taravella, the Tigers closer, a bit earlier than usual to maintain their lead. He did what he has done all season for the Tigers, escaping bases-loaded situations in the fourth and sixth innings to help them secure the win.
He pitched 3.2 innings, allowing one hit, no runs and struck out four to pushing his record to 2-1.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today, but I just wanted to approach the game the same way I would any other,” Taravella said. “I got myself in a couple of jams there, but I knew I just had to throw strikes and trust my teammates.”
After scrapping their way back from a four-run deficit in the third inning, Holy Cross followed a four-run third inning with a five-run fourth inning to take control.
Tre Turner and Grant Schulz started the Tigers’ run with back-to-back singles, followed by an RBI single from Cole Naleznik that broke the tie and gave Holy Cross a 5-4 lead.
Rummel made the switch to Darren Willis at pitcher midway through the inning, but he couldn’t curtail the Tigers’ hot bats, walking in a run before Chris Turpin hit an RBI single to center to bring in one more run.
Holy Cross added two more runs in the inning on a bases loaded-walk and a wild pitch to take a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the fourth.
Turner and Schulz led the Tigers, combining to go 6-for-7 with six runs and an RBI.
“We were just trying to do whatever we can to help puts some runs on the board,” Turner said. “Whether we were leading off, or coming up with people on base, we just wanted to be aggressive and take advantage of any opportunity they gave us.”
Rummel utilized some of their small-ball tactics to score their first runs in the second inning.
After putting their first three batters on base with two infield singles and a hit batsman, Collin Ward gave the Raiders their first run on a Holy Cross fielder’s choice.
Luke Lacoste followed Ward’s RBI with a bunt single, and Kyle Constanza gave the Raiders their first hit to leave the infield with and RBI single to left field to give Rummel a 3-0 lead.
Kevin Meehan tagged on one more RBI fielder’s choice before the Tigers escaped the inning with a 4-0 lead heading into the third inning.
The loss snapped the Raiders 11-game winning streak, but coach Nick Monica said that the team still has plenty of opportunity to fight their way back to the top of the district standings.
“This league is so tough, if you told me we would be 4-1 our first time through, I would think that’s pretty good,” Monica said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to run the table in a district this tough, so we just have to keep scrapping and make our way back to the top.”