Riley fans 14 as Wave claims Game 1

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; It could have been the mantra all week for the Cathedral Green Wave. Just wait until it stops raining.

It did, and that’s when CHS left-hander Te Riley really started to dominate.

The rain was steady for five innings and started to really come down hard for a while in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 1A championship, but action continued.

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Then when it finally stopped, Riley got four of his final six outs on strikeouts to finish with 14 K’s as the Green Wave took a 5-1 win over Houlka.

The Green Wave can claim its first state title since 1995 with a win in Game 2, set for 6 p.m. today at Pontotoc.

&uot;I just kind of stepped it up a little bit after the rain,&uot; said Riley, who was victim of a slippery mound when he lost his footing on a pitch during the fifth inning. &uot;It wasn’t really the grip but more slipping on the mound. I couldn’t get my feet down. Once I got that curveball down, it gave my confidence in my fastball.&uot;

The left-hander gave the Wildcats problems at the plate, and the two hits they had were the only balls that left the infield. Riley had trouble when the rain started to come down in the fourth and fifth with two walks and five runners left on base, but he still managed to get all his outs in those two innings on strikeouts.

In a hard rain.

&uot;Te looked good,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;Early on he looked good, and then he got that inning where he walked two batters (in the fifth). The rain stopped there in the fifth inning, the only time he slipped, and it got in his mind after that. But I can’t say enough about how he battled. He went above and beyond my expectations.&uot;

Once it started to come down pretty hard, that’s when the Wildcats had their chances at putting runs on the board. It was those fourth and fifth innings where they got their only hits of the game &045; singles courtesy of Chris Huggins and Brett Hood &045; but left them and other runners stranded.

The fourth inning kind of typified the day for the Wildcats: Huggins singled to lead off, Mark Allen Stevens walked and Brian Hillhouse reached on an error to load the bases with one out and the game still scoreless.

Riley then got Sedric Benford to strike out missing on the curve on a 1-2 count, and Greg Naugle missed on the fastball on the same count to end the inning.

&uot;He was every bit as good as people said he was,&uot; Houlka head coach Jimbo Byars said. &uot;I thought before the game I was concerned he would break a curveball in the dirt and we would swing at it. But he threw it for strikes, and we couldn’t stay back on it. That was the difference in the ball game. We had some baserunners, and he got two out on strikeouts after that.&uot;

The fifth inning was similar for the Wildcats, who got a walk to Kyle Meyers to lead off the inning before scoring a run. Meyers got on, stole second and went to third on a Hood single up the middle with no outs.

The Wildcats called a double steal, and the throw to second went into center field to allow Meyers to score and cut the lead to 2-1. But Riley got two strikeouts, walked Stevens and got Cody Duncan to miss on a 2-2 fastball to get out of the inning.

&uot;We just knew they were a rowdy bunch and played with a lot of emotion,&uot; Riley said. &uot;When it quit raining, it kind of got sloppy. But we had a few key breaks on defense &045; a bunt that rolled foul and the line drive at first. Coach said with weather like this it’s hard to get in the game. Whoever gets the most breaks wins, and we got the most breaks and stayed with it.&uot;

Fortunately when the run came across the Green Wave had a two-run cushion to work with. Houlka starter Huggins &045; who was solid in his own right by holding Cathedral to three hits &045; walked Jeremy Davis and Wyler Murray with one out.

Charlie Lane then slapped a double down the right-field line to score both, but Lane was thrown out in a rundown between second. It would have been enough for the time being, since MHSAA playoff rules allow games to be declared official after 4 1/2 innings.

&uot;I didn’t think we would get seven innings in, to be honest with you,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;I thought whoever scored first would probably win it in four or five innings. Charlie Lane had a big hit, and we started hitting after that trying to increase the lead.&uot;

The Green Wave got two more in the fifth on an error and wild pitch and another in the sixth.

Andrew Ellard put down a bunt that the Wildcats misplayed to allow Nick Anderson to score for a 3-1 lead. Ellard later scored on a wild pitch.

The Wave got another run off Huggins in the sixth when Charlie Lane scored on a fielder’s choice. Al-Jammi Jones came in to get the final out.