The St. Mary’s High baseball team missed a chance to put itself ahead of the BSAL pack on Wednesday, falling apart in the ninth inning to lose, 8-3, to Albany.
The Cougars (13-5 overall, 6-2 BSAL) scored five runs in the ninth, all with two outs. St. Mary’s reliever Marcus Johnson looked as if he was out of trouble when he got Albany catcher Ian Gordon to hit the ball right to Chris Morocco at third base with two outs and two on, but Morocco bounced his throw to first, hitting teammate Joe Storno in the face as both runners scored.
After an intentional walk to cleanup hitter Robert Diaz, who hit a go-ahead home run an inning earlier, four straight singles scored three more runs before Doug Fisch struck out to end the inning.
“We’re not the greatest hitting team in the world, but we know how to take advantage when the other team gives us chances,” Albany head coach Jim Giblin said. “My guys never admit defeat, so we can come back on anybody.”
Albany’s Lou Worth struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to earn the win.
“I don’t place the entire game on that one play,” St. Mary’s head coach Andy Shimabukuro said of Morocco’s error. “We had a bunch of chances to score, and we couldn’t come through.”
Albany starter Tommy Cable went seven innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. Both St. Mary’s runs came in the first when Fisch threw away a Tom Carman double-play ball. The Panthers (9-11, 5-2) had runners on base in every inning but the seventh against Cable but couldn’t get anyone across the plate.
St. Mary’s had three runners thrown out running the bases, including Storno getting caught off of second base twice. Amazingly, five Albany runners were thrown out on the basepaths, including two assists by centerfielder Chase Moore and two pickoffs by Johnson.
Storno had a solid outing on the mound, allowing a run in the first inning on three singles and a Gordon homer in the third. But with a thin bullpen, Shimabukuro decided to let his starter go out for the eighth inning. Diaz hit the second pitch over the bleachers in leftfield, and Storno was pulled with Johnson coming in from leftfield to shut the Cougars down.
St. Mary’s tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a scratch run. Moore walked to start the inning against Mike Clement, went to second on an errant pickoff throw and third on a Tom Carman grounder. Giblin pulled Clement in favor of Worth, but Storno came through with a long sacrifice fly to plate Moore and extend the game for another inning.
“I feel like I have three No. 1 (pitchers),” Giblin said. “If I can see one guy doesn’t have it, I can go get someone else.”
With the loss, St. Mary’s joined three other BSAL teams, including Albany, with two losses in league play. The league champion and automatic North Coast Section playoff spot will be determined by the BSAL playoffs. The top two seeds will receive first-round byes in the league playoffs, so the jockeying for those two spots should be fierce down the stretch.
“We just have to try and win the rest of our games and get a bye,” Shimabukuro said. “We can still control that.”