Call it glorified batting practice.
St. Mary’s coach Andy Shimabukuro said that his team’s 28-0 thrashing of St. Elizabeth’s Friday afternoon in Berkeley was a warm-up game for next week’s pivotal contest against Piedmont.
Piedmont currently leads the Bay Shore Athletic League and with Friday’s win, St. Mary’s remains in second place (8-2 BSAL, 14-9 overall). The winner of next week’s matchup gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“We took out all our starters in the second inning,” Shimabukuro said. “This was a practice for us, but we want to maintain our momentum going into next week and into the playoffs.”
St. Mary’s momentum has carried them to wins in 12 of the team’s last 14 games, after the Panthers started the season winning just two out of its first nine.
Friday’s game was called in the fifth inning, but still took nearly two hours and 45 minutes to complete. The St. Mary’s side of the first alone took nearly an hour to play.
Panthers catcher Marcus Johnson led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple to right-center. It took just one more hit, a single by Jeremiah Fielder, to start the St. Mary’s scoring spree.
St. Mary’s started the game with five straight hits and scored 17 runs in the first inning, led by Joe Starkey’s two-run double and Omar Young’s three-run double.
The Panthers left the bases loaded at the end of one, but not before recording four straight two-out singles by Johnson, Brendan Hartoy, Mike Glasshoff and Dave Lawrence. St. Mary’s sent 23 batters to the plate in the first inning outburst.
“I hope we can keep playing like this,” said Johnson, who went 4-for-6 and drove in two runs.
Tom Carman threw three innings of one-hit ball for the Panthers. He struck out six and walked just one. Offensively, Carman drew two walks and drove in two runs in the third inning with a double.
Steve Drapeau relieved Carman in the fourth and allowed no hits and one walk while striking out three Mustangs.
After the monster first inning, St. Mary’s added another four runs in the second and seven in the third. St. Elizabeth’s retired the Panthers in order in the fourth inning when Eddie Russaw replaced Larry Allen on the mound.
St. Mary’s drubbed St. Elizabeth’s earlier this season 13-3, which until Friday’s game was the Panthers’ highest run total this season, Johnson said.
After starting the season poorly, the Panthers caught fire when basketball season ended and two-sport athletes Fielder and Chase Moore returned to the diamond.
“We’ve been playing well as a team since the seniors came back from basketball,” Johnson said. “This was a little workout for Piedmont next week.”