May 28th, 2018

Tigers wallop Manual, ride into semis

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer


Tigers wallop Manual, ride into semis
photo by Eric Thorne

Focus and discipline are two words that can be an athletic team’s best friend or worst enemy.

The St. Xavier baseball team can attest to that after the Tigers needed just five innings to defeat Manual 10-0 in the opening round of the Seventh Region tournament Monday at Derby City Field.

 

After a stunning 7-5 loss to Male in the 26th District title game last week where the Tigers were lacking in both, they were razor sharp against the Crimsons.

The pitching duo of Ryan Nicholson and Max Bergmann combined to face just 19 Manual batters in tossing a four-hitter while  striking out three and issuing one walk.

The victory marked the tenth consecutive win for St. X over the Crimsons dating back to 2010.

“When you are faced with such as games like these two you have to try and remain confident both in yourself and your teammates,” Nicholson said. “Male was a perfect example where we weren’t focused, gave up early runs and had to keep fighting back. We are capable of playing that way, but it is much better the way we did it today.”

Instead of digging themselves a 4-run hole like they did in the first inning against Male the Tigers instead erupted for three first inning runs against the Crimsons.

Aric Lyons doubled down the left field line and Trey Sweeney followed by dropping a perfect bunt down the third base line. Cam Scheler then drew a walk to load the bases and Andrew Littlefield drilled a rocket to second base that Connor King could not handle plating two runs.

A double steal later Bryce Elmore drove home Scheler and Littlefield with a double to the left field fence.

Manual pitcher Jalen Riley didn’t make it out of the first inning giving up all four runs in just two-thirds of an inning.

The bunt started a three-hit day for Sweeney that included a pair of singles and a double.

“I saw the third baseman playing pretty deep so I thought I’d try the bunt,” Sweeney said with a smile. “I have decent speed so I thought it was a good time to go for it. I have the green light if it’s there and it worked.”

St. X coach Andy Porta agreed with his senior shortstop.

“Those are the kind of things in a game that you really can build on and make things happen for your team, and that was a good call by Trey,” Porta said. “I watched it roll crazy down the line, thought it would hit the grass and go foul and it ends up hitting the base. You could feel the excitement from the kids at that point.”

The momentum carried to the second inning with Chase Patton opening the inning with a walk, and Alex Adams getting hit by a pitch from Nick Dawson. Sweeney then laced a triple to the right-centerfield fence bringing both home for a 6-0 lead.

“We had good practices all week and the kids were really frustrated after Male, but we stayed on the focus theme and even emphasized it before coming over today and that was evident,” Porta added.

St. X then sent nine batters to the plate in the third inning and added three runs.

Elmore walked, stole second and third and Patton drove him home with a flare down the right-field line. Adams then singled home Patton, and Sweeney greeted new pitcher Michael Diaz with an RBI single to right making it 9-0.

“When the guys get on in front of me it takes a lot of pressure off, and I’m confident that I can get them in to score one way or another,” Sweeney said. “Sometimes we press and try to do too much, but games like today where we relax and are confident in our abilities we truly show what we are capable of.”

The Tigers added their final run in the fourth when Nicholson reached on an error, moved to third on a double by Elmore and easily scored on Patton’s fly out to leftfield

“Ryan had a really good game on the mound for us only throwing 35 pitches, and is now 5-0 on the season and we will probably need him Thursday hopefully,” Porta said. “He is however a perfectionist and if he is struggling hitting it can affect his pitching. We tell him just worry about your job on the mound, and anything extra you get hitting is icing on the cake. He can be pretty tough on himself sometimes.”

Nicholson was pleased with his performance.

“I had the fastball working well early on, and the breaking balls were good late and that was what I needed out there to keep us going,” the junior said. “The team just needs to relax and play our game because we know we are one of the best teams in the state.”

The Tigers (31-2) move on to play Eastern (21-12) at 7:15 pm Tuesday at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium. Eastern defeated Central 10-1 on Monday. St. X defeated the Eagles 8-5 back on April 9.

“We just take care of one game at a time for the next six to get a state title,” Sweeney said. “We won 23 in a row to start the season before losing, and we bounced back. We then lost to Male the other night and this starts a bounce back to hopefully six more wins.”

 

 

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