Holy Cross baseball coach Greg Battistella admits Brenden Taravella “is a luxury.”
Battistella watched his team move to 4-0 in District 9-5A play Saturday afternoon by surviving a late Jesuit threat for an 8-6 win.
“What a luxury for a high school team,” Battistella said after reliever Taravella snuffed out Jesuit’s last serious threat and recorded his ninth save of the season.
Holy Cross (17-8, 4-0) has won six straight and will meet Rummel (also 4-0 in district) Tuesday night at Kirsch-Rooney for the Catholic League lead.
Holy Cross jumped out to an 8-3 lead with a barrage of early hits mixed in with a basketful of Jesuit mistakes including three errors, three hit batters, a wild pitch, a passed ball and a balk.
“A ton of mistakes,” Jesuit coach Joey Latino coach. “You name it, we did it. Against a team as good as (Holy Cross), you can’t expect to win making mistakes.”
But Jesuit (17-7, 2-2) closed the lead to 8-6 in the fifth and brought the go-ahead run to the plate with a runner at third.
He ended the threat in the fifth with one pitch and retired seven of the eight hitters he faced.
Not one ball was hit out of the infield against the side-arming sophomore, who threw seven first-pitch strikes.
“He pounds the (strike) zone down with a funky delivery and he just gets outs,” Battistella said.
For Taravella, beating Jesuit was important. The two schools have battled since 1922, reportedly the fifth-oldest prep rivalry in the country.
“For me, Jesuit is the most important game: the rivalry, the tradition,” Taravella said. “Ever since I was growing up, I heard about beating the Blue Jays, so wearing a Holy Cross uniform and beating the Blue Jays is an awesome feeling.”
Jesuit jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but before the Jays could retire a batter in the bottom of the first, Holy Cross was on top to stay 3-2.
Wes Robinson was hit by a pitch to begin the game and Matt Muhleisen ripped a single to right, his first of three hits and four hard-hit balls on the day.
An error and an infield hit then preceded Tre Turner’s RBI single.
Three Tigers hits, a stolen base and a walk made it 5-2 in the second. Muhleisen had an 11-pitch at-bat to drive in the fourth Holy Cross run. He fouled off six pitches before he hit a shot to left. His single to center drove in a run in the third.
Holy Cross had seven of its 11 hits in the first three innings.
“I was very relaxed at the plate,” Muhleisen said.
When Jesuit rallied for three runs in the fifth, Muhleisen said, “I wasn’t worried about it. I knew we had Brenden.
“He always comes in in tough situations and finds a way out of it.”
Mickey Toscano also had three hits for Holy Cross. Turner had a pair of hits and stole three bases. He has now stolen 20 bases in 25 games.