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John Swett pounds Panthers

Saturday April 20, 2002

By Jared Green 

Daily Planet Staff 


CROCKETT – The St. Mary’s High baseball team has been playing tough all season, winning their first five BSAL games with clutch hitting, adequate pitching and just a smidgen of luck. But when they finally lost to John Swett on Friday, it was a doozy. 

Swett scored seven runs in the fourth inning, including two three-run homers, on the way to pounding the Panthers 13-3. St. Mary’s dropped to 9-10 overall, 5-1 in the BSAL with the loss, while the Indians improved their record to 11-8 and 3-5 in league play. 

St. Mary’s got a rare ineffective outing from ace Joe Storno, who left the mound after giving up 10 runs, including the first blast in the fourth by Mike Santos. Storno had been carrying the Panthers, winning all three of his league starts before Friday. 

“We know it’s going to be difficult with only one pitcher we can rely on,” St. Mary’s head coach Andy Shimabukuro said. “I thought Joe would pitch a little better, but (Swett) swing the bats very well.” 

Storno wasn’t the only one to blame for the loss. The Panthers committed several pratfalls in the field, making their pitcher’s job that much harder. Although they were only charged with three errors, the Panthers gave away outs on several occasions.  

The four-run Indian second inning came courtesy of just two hits, both singles. After Steven Della Cruz led off with a single, Chris Gomez bunted the ball right back at Storno. Storno bobbled the ball but still tried to get Della Cruz at second base, throwing late and not getting an out. After a sacrifice sent the runners to second and third, Tony Thomas hit a grounder up the middle. St. Mary’s second baseman Chris Alfert got to the ball but bumped into shortstop Manny Mejia and threw the ball away, allowing both runners to score and sending Thomas to second.  

Cole Adams followed with one of his four singles, and Santos hit a sacrifice fly to center. Storno neglected to back up the throw to home, which got by catcher Sean Ayres. Storno chased the ball to the backstop and tried to get Adams at third, but his errant throw allowed Adams to score the fourth unearned run of the inning. 

“It’s a struggle for us just to get outs, and we can’t afford to give up extra outs on errors,” Shimabukuro said. 

The Indians put the game away in the fourth. Jiminez led off with a double, and Thomas laid down a perfect bunt to reach base. Adams singled again, scoring Jiminez, then Santos knocked Storno out of the game with a high drive to center that just cleared the fence and centerfielder Chase Moore’s leap.  

It looked as if reliever Ryan Bahado-Singh would shut off the rally, inducing two flyball outs, but he walked the next two batters. Gomez hit the first pitch he saw from Bahado-Singh on a line over the leftfield fence. 

“We’ve hit everybody. It doesn’t matter who we face,” Swett head coach Ron Spini said. “We don’t care if it’s your ace or your bullpen.” 

The Panthers didn’t allow another run, but it made little difference as they just couldn’t get their bats going against Della Cruz or reliever Ed Davila. While St. Mary’s did get nine hits, they left 12 runners on base. Spini said his pitchers are finally giving the hitters some support. 

“We’ve given away far too many runs,” he said. “Walks have just killed us. A team that’s hitting .360 and made six errors in seven games should be better than 3-5, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.” 

The Indians are focused on reaching the BSAL playoffs, which would require finishing in sixth place or better. Spini feels that if it does make the playoffs, his team could sneak up on some of the higher seeds. 

“I’ve been telling the players that all the things that have gone against us don’t matter any more,” he said. “I don’t like the playoff system, but if we’re in the postseason we’ve got as good a shot as anybody.” 

St. Mary’s, on the other hand, still controls its own destiny. The Panthers play the only other team with one loss, Albany, on Wednesday. 

“It all starts over on Wednesday,” Shimabukuro said. “If we come back and win that one we’ll be back in the driver’s seat.”