Six shutout innings in relief by Scott Chase and Dan Rowbottom's bases-loaded triple in the top of the 10th inning lead Saint Ignatius' varsity baseball team to a 7-3 victory at Amherst Steele on Thursday evening. Stephen Alexander continues his clutch hitting and Nick Longo has a solid outing in his varsity debut.
BY EDDIE DWYER, COPYRIGHT 2012
Amherst, Ohio – Don’t ask Saint Ignatius’ “Cardiac Cats” what they are going to do for an encore.
Just sit back and enjoy it because this is a group of special young men who leave their egos at home and simply enjoy playing together.
Thursday evening at Amherst Steele High School, the 2012 Saint Ignatius varsity baseball team rode an outstanding effort in relief by senior right-hander Scott Chase and a two-out, bases loaded triple to deep right field by junior second baseman Dan Rowbottom in the top of the 10th inning to a 7-3 victory over the Comets.
In winning their second extra-inning game in as many days, the Wildcats improved to 2-1 on the young season. Amherst, which rallied from an early 2-0 deficit by scoring its three runs in the bottom of the third inning, slipped to 1-2.
“He gave me the inside fastball,” said Rowbottom of the 1-0 pitch he drove off Comets junior fire-baller Shawn Reid. “On my previous at-bat, he beat me on it (the inside fastball) and got me to pop up. So I tried to just focus on staying on it and getting that pitch that I could drive. It just played out the right way.
“We always know that we’re not out of a game, no matter what,” Rowbottom continued. “It’s kind of cool, because even if some guys are struggling, there is always someone there to pick them up. No matter what anyone is doing, we’re together as one. We have something special here, it just feels awesome.”
Coming off Wednesday night’s 8-7, eight-inning victory at Twinsburg, Saint Ignatius scored single runs in the top of the second and third innings en route to its early lead on a brisk evening in Lorain County.
Senior first baseman Stephen Alexander, who has found the Wildcats’ new wood bats to his liking, led off the top of the second by going the opposite way for a line-drive single to left field. Junior third baseman Tyler Finkler moved Alexander over with a sacrifice bunt, Chase, who started the game in right field, singled to left and senior shortstop and tri-captain Mike Ruffing drove in the first run of the game by slapping a ground ball to deep shortstop for an infield hit.
In the top of the third, Rowbottom led off with a double to the gap in left-center field, senior center fielder and tri-captain Tim McCoy followed with a base hit and senior catcher Ralph Lucarelli loaded the bases with no outs by drawing a walk.
Alexander brought home the second with a ground out to the right side, but Amherst starting pitcher Ryan Lamb prevented further damage in that inning by getting the next two batters on a strikeout and a ground out.
A missed sign in the first inning and the inability to break the game open in the early going were the things that Saint Ignatius’ veteran hitting coach Matt Blazer reminded the Wildcats about before they enjoyed their trip home.
The Comets, under the direction of head coach Allan McConihe, loaded the bases in the bottom of the third on one-out base hits by senior shortstop Maximo Meggitt and junior first baseman Corey Stamco and a walk. Amherst then caught a break when Chase, hustling after a fly ball to right-center off the bat of senior catcher Aaron Bledsoe, lost his footing. It went as a three-run triple and a one-run lead for the Comets that they held until the top of the seventh.
Coming up with some of the same late-game heroics they put forth against Twinsburg, the Wildcats tied the score in the seventh on a one-out single by McCoy, a walk to Lucarelli and an RBI single to right field by Alexander.
After Saint Ignatius’ sophomore left-hander Nick Longo threw four solid innings in his varsity debut, striking out five, Chase took the mound in the fifth inning and more than made up for the play in right field, when Amherst’s outfield grass wasn’t kind.
“I told Rowbottom that I messed up out there and was going to help them out and do whatever I could,” said Chase. “We come out fighting. This is a great team this year, we don’t stay down.”
To say Chase “helped his team out” would be an understatement.
In pitching six shutout innings, Chase yielded just two hits, struck out four and did not issue a walk. A well-spoken and amiable young man who recently wrapped up a solid wrestling season at 182 pounds, he said the ability to locate his fastball was the real key for him.
With Chase keeping his team in the game, the bases-loaded stage was set for Rowbottom when junior infielder Cole Neito led off the 10th by beating out a slow roller down the third-base line, Chase laid down a bunt that was designed as a sacrifice, but went for a base hit, and spirted and talented junior left fielder Conor Hennessey was hit by a pitch with two outs.
After Dan delivered his authoritative triple, he came home to score the ‘Cats’ seventh run off an errant relay throw and Chase banked the W by retiring the Comets in order in the bottom of the 10th.
“Two days in a row in extra innings and the resiliency to come back, I think it’s just a special group,” said Saint Ignatius head coach Brad Ganor, who watched his team put together its second consecutive game with more than 10 hits. “They’re a special group and I can say special even though we’re only three games into the season. They believe in each other, we’re using the whole bench and everybody’s doing something different. There are no selfish attitudes, just a lot of heart.”
Next up for the Wildcats is Saturday’s trip to Dublin Jerome High School in Franklin County for a doubleheader against the Celtics from Jerome and the Zanesville Blue Devils. The games are slated for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.