Jesuit Invitational: Against Hahnville, All the Jays Needed Was One More Strike
A 2-0 Shutout for the Jays Turns into a 4-2 Loss in 10 Innings
Barbe Tournament Schedule Update
Saturday, March 12, 2016
3 PM: JHS vs. St. Thomas More @ Sam Houston
5:30 PM: JHS vs. Sam Houston @ Sam Houston
Sunday, March 13, 2016
1 PM: JHS vs. Evangel @ Sam Houston
6 PM: JHS vs. Barbe @ Barbe
(Revised & Posted 3 PM Thursday, March 10)
One strike. Just one.
That’s all the Jays needed to stake a 2-0 hard-fought shutout against the Hahnville Tigers in the final game of the Jesuit Invitational on Saturday evening at John Ryan Stadium.
One little teensy-weensy strike.
It was the top of the seventh inning and the Tigers were down to their last out, their final strike. Hahnville had been stymied all night long by the stuff Blue Jay pitcher Mason Mayfield flung at them. The senior right-hander had given up a measly two hits through six and two-thirds innings. Mayfield had already fanned eight Tigers and his teammates on the field and those pressed against the rail in the home team’s dugout, along with the fans in the Blue & White sections of the grandstand and bleachers, were hoping for a ninth strikeout that would end the game with a 2-zip Jesuit win.
The Ryan was pulsing with energy from the fans of both teams. Jesuit fans outnumbered the Hahnville folks, but those who made the 25-mile drive from St. Charles Parish nearly matched the decibel level of the Blue Jay contingency. Both dugouts were alive with noise.
Mayfield walked the first batter. Time for a conference. Coach Joey Latino walked slowly to the mound. Mayfield’s right shoulder was ready for one of the Doc’s soothing ice packs, but the 6’2” senior still had enough bling to take care of business. There’s nothing more satisfying and exhilarating for a pitcher than to finish what he started, to throw a complete game, which in prep ball is seven innings. The achievement is not as easy as some might think, but Mayfield has pulled it off. In his first start of the 2016 season, against St. Paul’s of Covington back on February 25, Mayfield threw a complete game, allowing only five hits and one unearned run, while striking out four batters. The Hahnville game on Saturday was Mayfield’s second start of the young season and he was throwing even better than he did against St. Paul’s.
The conference over, Mayfield remained on the mound. Walking back to the dugout, Coach Latino looked toward the right field corner where relief pitcher Richard Oubre was warming up. But the coach had made his decision. He would give Mayfield the opportunity to throw a complete game. He had earned it. Give the kid a chance to get that third out and finish what he started.
Mayfield was throwing hard and the Tiger batter went down swinging for the first out. But Mayfield walked the next batter, who may or may not have been the beneficiary of a perceived shrinking strike zone. Suddenly Hahnville had runners on first and second with one out. The next Tiger batter hit a worm burner to second baseman Brandon Briuglio. A double play would end the game. Briuglio deftly flipped the ball sideways to shortstop Nick Ray for the forced out at second. But Ray was off-balance trying to avoid the sliding Tiger, and his throw to first base went over a leaping Jake Licciardi. Luckily, the ball hit some netting and bounced back to Licciardi, preventing the runner from advancing to second base.
The Tigers now had runners on first and third with two out. The next at bat was Hahnville’s pitcher. Mayfield went to
work and threw two strikes. One more strike and the game was over. He threw a ball. OK, the Jays would settle for a grounder to Briuglio. Another ball for a 2-2 count. How about a pop fly to Hayden Fuentes at third base? The windup, the pitch, the swing, the pinging sound of aluminum against hard leather. A fly ball. A long fly ball launched to the gap in right center. No chance that this fly would be caught on the run. Connor Maginnis, playing right field, was already in full sprint mode. The ball landed about 10 feet short of the warning track and rolled all the way to the fence. Maginnis picked it up and threw to Briuglio. It was a stand-up triple that easily scored the runners who were on first and third. The Jays got a third out on the next batter, but the game was now tied, 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, three up and down for the Jays. Oubre was sent to the mound in relief for the final innings. In the bottom of the eighth, Fuentes reached second base when a high fly ball fell in shallow right field between a pair of Tigers, one of whom may have lost the ball in the lights while backing up. Stephen Sepcich was given a free pass to first base and designated hitter Austin North was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. But Licciardi, the Jays’ first baseman, was caught looking and the Tigers snuffed the threat. In the bottom of the ninth, the Jays had another opportunity but left two runners stranded on first and second.
In the top of the tenth inning, the Tigers had runners on first and second with two outs when the Jays were stung again by yet another triple that cleared the bases and gave Hahnville a 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the tenth, Fuentes started with a double. Sepcich walked. With two outs, sophomore Alex Watermeier was a pinch hitter for Licciardi. Watermeier hit one of those worm killers and beat the throw to first base. Fuentes was waved in by Coach Latino but Hahnville saw what was happening. The first baseman threw a strike to the catcher, who had enough time to drive to Taco Bell on Airline for a chicken quesadilla and return in time to put the tag on Fuentes.
“I messed up. I’m taking full responsibility,” said Coach Latino after quietly talking to his players in the post-game meeting. “I should have gotten Mason Mayfield out of the game after the second walk in the top of the seventh inning. We were one out away. I should have brought in (relief pitcher Richard) Oubre to seal it and I didn’t. I followed my heart and not my head. Mason threw an incredible game. He deserved to win and I didn’t do the right thing from a game manager’s standpoint. And getting Hayden Fuentes thrown out at the plate at the end — that was boneheaded as well. I’m taking full responsibility for this… So I’m going to wear this one as I should. I’m the head coach, I need to have us better prepared, I got to do a better job managing the game, and tonight I didn’t do either of those.”
Oubre, who took the loss (he’s now 2-1), pitched three full innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out five Tigers. The Jays had a total of five hits from three players: shortstop Nick Ray had two singles, Hayden Fuentes had a single and a double, and Watermeier was credited with a single on a fielder’s choice on the last play of the game.
The week of March 7 marks the end of the third quarter and exams are scheduled Monday – Thursday. The team will have light practices on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but there’s a bit of a break from baseball games. Once exams are over on Thursday, March 10, the 6-3 Jays will board a bus to Lake Charles where they are one of a half dozen teams playing in the Barbe Tournament.
“I told the boys to focus on their exams, make sure they take care of their responsibilities there,” said Coach Latino. “Then we go out to Lake Charles this weekend against really good competition. We need to have a good practice week where we get back to doing the right things in terms of preparation.”
The schedule for the Barbe Tournament looks like this:
Thursday, March 10: Jesuit vs. St. Thomas More at 5:35 p.m.
Friday, March 11: Jesuit vs. Evangel at 5:35 p.m.
Saturday, March 12: A double-header — Jesuit vs. Hahnville at 9 a.m. (yes, that Hahnville), immediately followed by Jesuit vs. Barbe at 11.a.m.
Coach Latino said the Jays will be competing against four really good teams in the Barbe Tourney.
“What I hope to see is a lot of what I’ve seen,” he said. “The kids are playing hard, they’re battling, but we have to start coming through. We have to start capitalizing when other teams give us opportunities. We had several opportunities to win the Hahnville game tonight and we didn’t. But again, I have to take responsibility for that because I got to have us better prepared for the situations when they come up.”
The New Orleans Advocate: Austin Perrin’s two-run triple in the 10th lifts Hahnville over Jesuit
Jesuit vs. St. Thomas Catholic of Houston
The Jesuit-Hahnville game marked the third loss by the Jays in their own tournament, the first time that’s happened in the five years since the event was created in conjunction with the 2012 opening of John Ryan Stadium.
The 4-2 loss to the Tigers was also the Jays’ second defeat of the day, which began with a late morning game against St. Thomas Catholic of Houston. The Eagles came to play ball and went back to Houston undefeated in four games. Two of those wins were at Jesuit’s expense. The Jays lost to the Eagles last Thursday, 6-3.
On Saturday, the Eagles sent their Division 1 signee to the mound to shut out the Blue Jays, 5-0. The last time the Jays were shut out was March 18, 2014, when Jesuit Tampa came to town and left with a 4-0 win. The Jays also lost to West Ouachita, 1-0, on March 1, 2014 in the WGNO Classic, a game played at RBI Field (formerly Wesley Barrow Stadium).
Against St. Thomas in Saturday’s game, the Jays scattered five singles from five players: Brandon Briuglio, Connor Maginnis, Austin North, Jake Licciardi, and Sam Ovella.
Coach Latino said the Eagles’ pitcher had “good stuff” and did not give the Jays many opportunities. “We scattered five hits and couldn’t really put them back-to-back,” said Coach Latino. “But that happens when you’re shut out. We need to find ways to get big innings. We didn’t get a lot of walks and didn’t get a lot of hits behind the walks. In high school baseball, that’s usually how big innings are built.”
Hayden Fuentes started on the mound and took the loss (0-1). He pitched four innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two strikeouts. “Hayden threw very effectively,” said Coach Latino. “It was his first time on the mound since last summer. Then we came in with Collin Kulivan — that’s his first appearance coming fresh out of basketball. Then we threw Lee Blosser, then Chris Beebe, who is also just coming out of basketball.”
In the one inning Kulivan threw, he gave up two runs on three walks and no hits. He struck out one batter. Blosser also pitched one inning, allowing one hit but no runs. Beebe tossed a three-up and down final inning.
“The upside of the St. Thomas games is, first of all, they don’t count towards our power points,” said Coach Latino. “More importantly, we got our guys working. We had a few newcomers out there get their feet wet and we’re trying to build on that.”
Coach Latino admits he is still looking for a lineup with the “right nine.”
“Every game is a challenge, every game is different,” he said. “The good thing about this team is that it has depth. And when we look at the type of pitcher who’s going to throw against us, it’s going to help us decide what our lineup will be that day. We’ve got 13-14 guys who can make significant contributions and I think that’s one of the many strengths of this team.”