Jays Shine in a Shutout of a Really Good Little Team from Hammond
Brandon Briuglio Hurls a Three-Hitter to Propel Jesuit to a 2-0 Win Over St. Thomas Aquinas
The Blue Jays shut out one of the best little teams in the state.
The Falcons from St. Thomas Aquinas of Hammond emerged from their bus at John Ryan Stadium on Saturday, April 16, toting a 23-1 record as the number one rated baseball team in Class 2A. The players are talented and have a reputation of playing extremely hard and fast.
Some two hours later, the Falcons left the Ryan for the bus trip back to Hammond, sustaining only their second loss of the season in a 2-0 shutout courtesy of the Jays and their pitcher, senior right-hander Brandon Briuglio.
The loss to Jesuit, which is rated ninth among 63 Class 5A teams, still yields a few power points for the Hammond team. In winning its fourth consecutive game, Jesuit improved its overall record to 21-8 (20-7 for the power point ratings). The Jays’ district record is 6-4.
Against the Falcons, who average about seven runs per game this season, Briuglio had to be at his best, and he was… outstanding.
“Brandon’s a two-pitch pitcher – a fastball and a curve ball – and he keeps everything low,” Coach Joey Latino said. “He got a lot of ground ball outs today and that’s when he’s at his best. He had command of both his pitches. He’s a fierce competitor and I’m happy he had such a performance on Senior Day.”
Briuglio had a no-hitter going up until the fifth inning. In two of the last three innings, the Falcons sprayed Alumni Field with a trio of hits, including two singles and a double. But St. Thomas could not push any runs across the plate as Jesuit’s defense played solid and smart.
“They’re not pretty good, they’re real good,” Coach Latino said of the Falcons. “They came in with a 23-1 record and you can see why. They’re outstanding. They’ve beaten good competition. They’re well-coached. Their pitcher did a really good job. They had quality at-bats. We needed to play our best game to beat them and we did. We came through in all three phases of the game. We pitched extremely well, we played excellent defense behind Brandon, and we got timely hits. We only got two runs, but we played error-free baseball and that was the key.”
Briuglio struck out six Falcons and walked one. The win keeps him undefeated on the mound with a 5-0 record. Briuglio contributed to his own cause by singling in the first inning, although he was left stranded.
The Jays didn’t break open the game until the bottom of the sixth, which started with a lead-off triple by left fielder Austin North. A single by Hayden Fuentes scored North. Bryce Musso, pinch-running for Fuentes, stole second base. When first baseman Jake Licciardi hit a sharp infield grounder, the Falcons made a throwing error. The result was Licciardi was safe at first base and, more importantly, Musso crossed home plate standing up for Jesuit’s second run of the game.
Right-fielder Connor Maginnis hit a single in the second inning and Mark Beebe had a bunt single in the fifth.
The Jays’ defense sparkled in the top of the fourth inning when the Falcons had a runner on second base with one out. A sharp grounder was hit between Fuentes at third base and Nick Ray at shortstop. Fuentes made a valiant effort diving toward the ball and deflecting it just enough so that Ray could field it. But instead of trying to throw the batter out at first, Ray could see that it was too late, he pump faked the throw, which fooled the runner who had been on second base and was now halfway home. Fuentes, meanwhile, quickly got back on his feet and took the throw from Ray. Fuentes and catcher Josh Schmidt trapped the runner and Schmidt ran him down for the second out.
Coach Latino called time out and walked to the mound for a conference with the infield. When he returned to the dugout, he said it was the first time he’s called a time out in the middle of an inning to congratulate his players for an outstanding play.
“It was a heady play and they did a really fine job all the way around,” he said. “That’s a huge out in that situation. That’s the product of preparation and those guys did a really good job.”
Blue Jays play John Curtis on Tuesday, April 19 at John Ryan Stadium. First pitch is 7 p.m. Fans can listen to a live video stream of the game on SportsNola.com. Veteran sportscaster Kenny Trahan and Jesuit alumnus Danny Riehm ’02 will handle the play-by-play and commentary. The game will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by WHNO TV20 on the following day, Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m.
The final district game of the season takes place Thursday, April 21, when the Jays and the Eagles meet at Archbishop Shaw’s baseball field on the West Bank. First pitch is 6:30 p.m.