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Jays Feel the Thrill of Two Home Runs, Then the Pain of a Walk-off Loss

Posted May 7, 2016 / Last updated May 7, 2016

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A Two-Out, Two-Run Homer in the 10th Inning Lifts Catholic High to a 6-5 Walk-off Win Over Jesuit

In the second inning, Connor Maginnis hits his first home run as a Blue Jay.

In the second inning, right fielder Connor Maginnis hits his first home run as a Blue Jay.

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The Jays have their work cut out for them against Catholic High after dropping the first game of a “Best of 3” quarterfinals playoff series, 6-5, Friday night at Grizzly Field in Baton Rouge. Jesuit must win the remaining two games against Catholic on Saturday to be among the final four teams at the LHSAA state tournament on May 13-14 in Sulphur. Catholic needs one more win against Jesuit to advance to the Division 1 state tourney.

Nick Ray is swarmed by teammates in the first inning after his home run, his fifth one of the season.

Nick Ray is swarmed by teammates in the first inning after his home run, his fifth one of the season.

The Bears and the Jays play a second game at Grizzly Field on Saturday, May 7, with first pitch at 2 p.m. If the Jays win, the deciding Game 3 will start 30 minutes after the end of Game 2. Admission is $8 per adult and $5 per student.

The Jesuit – Catholic series is being streamed live (audio and video) on SportsNOLA.com. Sports mogul Kenny Trahan teams with Jesuit alumnus Danny Riehm (Class of 2002) to call the game and provide insightful analysis for SportsNOLA.com visitors. Jesuit fans remaining in New Orleans have another option — they can listen to all the action at Grizzly Field by tuning in to a radio broadcast of the game(s) on WGSO 990-AM. The radio broadcast will also be accessible through WGSO’s website. The WGSO broadcast will be anchored by Jude Young and Jesuit alumnus Billy Babin ’74, who serves as coach of Jesuit’s pre-freshmen team.

For the Jays, the opening game Friday night started in spectacular fashion. Shortstop Nick Ray hit the fifth pitch over the left field fence for a lead-off solo home run in the first inning. It was his fifth homer of the season. In the second inning, not to be outdone, right fielder Connor Maginnis led off with a solo shot to right-center, his first home run as a Blue Jay. The Jays added another run in the second inning when courtesy runner Bryce Musso scored from third base on Marc Theberge’s sacrifice fly. Catholic got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second when a Bear hit a solo home run over the left field fence.

Mason Mayfield started on the mound for the Jays and pitched four and two-thirds innings. He allowed three runs on three hits and four walks. Mayfield struck out two Bears.

Mason Mayfield started on the mound for the Jays and pitched four and two-thirds innings. He allowed three runs on three hits and four walks. Mayfield struck out two Bears.

In the third inning, the Jays picked up another run when left fielder Stephen Sepcich singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, then to third base on Austin North’s ground out. Connor Maginnis notched his second of three hits when he whacked a double to center field, scoring Sepcich from third base.

After three innings, the Jays had a comfortable 4-1 lead. In the fourth, Nick Ray singled for his second hit, but he was left on base. In the bottom of the fourth, the Bears plated two big runs to make it a 4-3 game.

“We were playing well and you have to credit Catholic because there’s no quit in them,” said Coach Joey Latino. “You give them two outs and two strikes and they’re going to keep battling. They’re going down to the end and they did that tonight.”

The Jays’ 4-3 lead held up in innings five and six. Along comes the bottom of the seventh, the Bears’ last gasp. The Jays were one out away from a win when the Bears suddenly loaded the bases on walks. The tying run was walked in to make it 4-4, and the game was headed to extra innings.

Connor Maginnis got his third hit of the game, a single, in the eighth inning, but he was left stranded. In the 10th inning, first baseman Jake Licciardi smacked a lead-off double.  Catcher Josh Schmidt, who singled in the second inning, followed with a double of his own, scoring Licciardi from second base to give the Jays a 5-4 lead.

But the Bears came back in the bottom of the 10th with a leadoff single, followed by the team’s second home run of the game, a two-run shot over the right field fence. Game over, Bears win, 6-5.

Connor Maginnis hit his first home run as a Blue Jay in the second inning. As he completes his round trip around the bases, teammates are ecstatic for him.

Connor Maginnis hit his first home run as a Blue Jay in the second inning. As he completes his round trip around the bases, teammates are ecstatic for him.

“It was an outstanding high school baseball game, it really was,” said Coach Latino. “You have to credit both teams. There was no quit on either side. Both teams obviously have a really good sense of what’s at stake here. I’m proud of my boys and Catholic should be proud of their boys. It was just an outstanding high school baseball game and it’s just tough to come out on the losing end.”

The Jays had nine hits while the Bears mustered five. Three of the Bears’ hits and the three runs through four innings came off Jesuit’s starting pitcher, Mason Mayfield, who pitched four and two-thirds innings. He walked four Bears and struck out two. Mayfield was relieved by Todd Crabtree, who pitched a difficult two and one-third innings. Crabtree did not give up any hits and he struck out two Bears. But the five walks he issued resulted in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.

Crabtree was relieved by Richard Oubre, who pitched innings eight, nine, and ten. He had one walk and two strikeouts. After Jesuit grabbed the lead again in the top of the 10th inning, the Bears had their turn. A lead-off single was the first hit Oubre surrendered. Then the Jays got two outs. Oubre was working a 1-2 count on a Bear and was one strike away from a win when he “left one over the plate,” as they say in baseball. The Bear batter sent Oubre’s pitch sailing over the short right field wall, scoring two runs and a walk-off win for the Bears.

Coach Latino agreed that there were a lot of momentum swings. “We had it early and then they put up two big runs in the fourth inning to cut it to 4-3,” he said. “We still had a chance to close it out in the seventh and Todd Crabtree has been so good for us all year. He just couldn’t find the strike zone tonight. He struggled a little bit and it’s unfortunate. I thought Richard did an outstanding job until that last pitch. I’m sure he’d like to have that back.”

The loss was Jesuit’s first after nine consecutive wins going back to April 9 when the Jays beat Brother Martin, 5-4, in extra innings. The Jays are now 26-8.

Coach Latino gathered his players together for a brief post-game meeting on the field prior to climbing aboard one of Jesuit’s yellow school busses for the ride back to Carrollton and Banks.

What did Coach say to the players?

“As tough as this is to swallow, your season is not over,” Coach Latino replied. “We got to come out tomorrow and draw on whatever is left in the tank and try to take this thing to a third game. That’s our focus. I think we’ll be fine but it’s going to be tough. It will be a tough drive home, but I’m hoping they just shake it off — for lack of a better expression — and just come out tomorrow focused and ready to play.”

EXTRA: The Jays are playing without Brandon Briuglio, their second baseman and pitcher, and the team’s big hitter. To get acclimated to a grass field, which is what Grizzly Field is, the team practiced Thursday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium. Briuglio was fielding ground balls when one took a “bad hop,” ripping off a fingernail and also fracturing his ring finger on his right hand.

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