Rummel’s baseball team desperately needed a win Monday against Shaw.
Coach Nick Monica needed starting pitcher Collin Ward to eat innings and help his staff during a stretch of five district games in six days.
For lagniappe, he needed his best hitter to get out of character and lay down a bunt.
Monica’s Raiders delivered all three as Ward pitched a three-hitter and Chase Fourcade’s bunt ignited a four-run sixth inning as the Raiders beat Shaw 4-1 at John Ryan Stadium.
“It’s a big win,” Monica said after his team snapped a three-game Catholic League losing streak. “Just to get that feel again. We had lost three straight to good teams.”
Rummel (17-12) ran its District 9-5A record to 5-3, remaining one game behind Holy Cross and Jesuit for the district lead.
Rummel plays 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kirsch-Rooney against last-place St. Augustine, an 18-2 loser Tuesday against Brother Martin on Monday. Shaw (16-12, 3-5) will play its fourth game in four days against Jesuit (6-2) on Tuesday at Ryan.
For five innings Monday, Rummel’s offense was stymied as Ward battled Shaw sophomore Cory Nini in a scoreless game.
A senior left-hander, Ward accumulated nine three-ball counts while recording his first 12 outs, but found command of his curveball when faced with Shaw’s biggest threat.
Shaw’s Zach Autin began the fifth inning by lining a triple into the right-field corner. Ward walked Lance Landry on four pitches and, after Landry advanced on a wild pitch, the Eagles had runners on second and third with none out.
Ward balked home Shaw’s lone run, but settled down, striking out three batters in the fifth, and six of the final nine outs.
Monica delivered a simple message during a visit to the mound in the fifth.
“Coach said settle down and be confident,” Ward (4-0) said. “I had confidence in my curveball.”
Still, Shaw led 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth.
“Nini threw the ball well,” Shaw coach Kirk Bullinger said. “We could not have asked more from him. (He) battled, battled, battled, and we didn’t give him any offensive support.”
Sophomore Nini (1-2), who had pitched only 14.1 innings this season, seemed to hit the wall in the sixth. He issued his first two walks of the game to Kyle Costanza and Kevin Meehan to begin the inning.
Three-hole hitter Fourcade got the bunt sign and responded with a perfect bunt down the third base side.
Nini fielded it and looked to third. The bag was uncovered and Nini spun and threw wildly to first. Fourcade was credited with a single, but both runners scored on the throwing error.
“We asked our best hitter, because of the way the game was unfolding, to do something he’s not used to doing,” Monica said. “He did it.”
Darren Willis then tripled deep to center to score Fourcade and Tyler Neece lined a single to score Neece, making it 4-1.
“This team is a good offensive team,” Monica said. “That’s why we’ve won 17 games. But. . . they’re as streaky as I’ve ever seen.”