There’s a distinct early trend developing that St. Michael the Archangel baseball coach Johnny Bernhard has enjoyed.
Especially the outcome.
For the third time St. Michael has thrived with its back against the wall. This time against two-time defending Class 4A state champion St. Thomas More.
The Warriors completed a dramatic three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, capped by home runs from Michael Smith and Hayden Salles for a 5-4 victory Tuesday over the Cougars.
“We’re one of the best comeback teams I’ve ever played for,” Salles said. “I’m really proud of our guys the way we played today.”
St. Michael (8-3) recently rallied from a four-run deficit in the seventh against Riverside for a 9-5 victory. The Warriors were under the gun last Friday when they tied the game in the seventh and went to defeat South Beauregard 8-6 in 11 innings.
“That’s a reason why you schedule good competition,” Bernhard said. “You want to put yourself in these situations as much as possible. We were down 4-2 in the seventh. There was no panic. We wanted to execute and see what happens.”
St. Michael, which won its seventh straight game, was down to its final two outs against STM reliever Brennan Leger.
Catcher Ross Scelfo singled to center and was replaced by courtesy runner Landon Cormier who scored ahead of Smith’s tying, two-run homer to center on a 1-0 pitch.
“I didn’t really have any good at-bats before that,” Smith said. “I really flushed it. I knew I had to come through for my team. I thought I heard Hayden say they needed me, and it really motivated me. When I saw it was going to be a strike, I decided to do what’s best for my team.”
STM went to a second reliever, Connor Gary, who got Nolan Tiersch for the second out of the inning.
That set the stage for Salles, who hadn’t gotten the ball out of the infield in two previous at-bats and was also hit by a pitch in the sixth.
Salles ran the count full, taking a close pitch for ball three, before fouling off the next pitches. He drove the next pitch to center field where a total of three homers on the day benefitted from a 15 mph wind blowing out.
The Warriors collected three of their 10 hits in the seventh and five over the last two innings, led by Tiersch (2-for-4), Kyle Fontenot (1-2, two RBIs) and Mitch Roe (2-3).
Will Bellamy (2-3) gave STM a 3-1 lead with a two-run homer in the third and his RBI-single to left made it 4-2 in the fifth before St. Michael starter Evan Becnel and Terrell combined to keep the Cougars scoreless for the next 2.2 innings.
Becnel allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked two in his 84-pitch outing.
“We have a lot of respect for those guys,” Bernhard said of STM.
“They’re the standard that everybody wants to be at it, and hopefully we got a little closer to that today.”