From the instant Jeremiah Fielder’s first-inning double came off the bat in Wednesday’s semifinal showdown with Piedmont, the St. Mary’s baseball team knew the game would be no repeat of the 9-4 defeat it suffered at the hands of the Highlanders on May 3.
After allowing just two earned runs to St. Mary’s in the first meeting, Piedmont ace Matt Shartsis found himself unusually hittable at his home field on Wednesday, yielding six runs to the hungry Panther offense. St. Mary’s starter Anthony Miyawaki turned out to be the more dominant hurler, holding the usually explosive Highlanders scoreless through nine innings of work. Miyawaki would finish with six strikeouts, while allowing just six total hits and no walks.
“Anthony kept them off-balance, he’s one of those guys who can throw both the fastball and curveball for a strike,” St. Mary’s coach Andy Shimabukuro said after the game. “Piedmont’s in a little bit of a slump, and we’re playing good ball at the right time of the season.”
Center fielder Justin Kelley, who drew a walk to force in the winning run in Tuesday’s quarterfinal victory over Alameda, stepped up once again on Wednesday with a two-RBI single in the second inning. The Panthers also received productive offensive performances from Ryan Bahado-Singh, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Fielder, who finished at 2-for-3 with two runs.
“We definitely had the confidence going in,” Kelley said. “We knew we could hit (Shartsis), because in the first game, we kept it close the whole game.”
The semifinal victory earns the Panthers an automatic bid in the North Coast Section tournament, beginning next Tuesday, plus a chance to compete for the Alameda-Contra Costa Athletic League tournament title.
St. Mary’s meets Encinal, which took care of El Cerrito in the other semifinal, in the league championship game this Friday, beginning at 3:45 p.m. Since the Jets’ well-known ace, Dontrelle Willis, pitched five innings on Wednesday, Shimabukuro does not expect the dangerous hurler to take the mound on Friday.
“If Willis is not pitching, we have a good shot, and even if he does, he’s got to be tired coming off one day’s rest,” the St. Mary’s coach said. “(Shartsis) is a comparable pitcher, so beating