Seven-run first sparks CHS to Game 1 victory

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Maybe you can just change the rules when these two teams meet in the future in Natchez.

The first inning will be declared merely a warmup.

For the third time in as many matchups, the Cathedral Green Wave came out swinging a fat stick in its first at-bat in Game 1 of the Class 1A South State championship against Greenville St. Joseph. The Wave’s seven-run first inning had many in the Irish dugout with that we’ve-been-here-before feeling.

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It was enough to trigger the Green Wave to a 15-5 win in five innings. Game 2 is Monday in Greenville.

&uot;They were undefeated when they came here last year, and we 10-run ruled them,&uot; said senior Garrett Jones, who drove in three runs. &uot;We beat them all three times last year. We came in here confident and knew we could do it.&uot;

The nightmare of a first inning featured seven runs on six hits and 12 men sent to the plate, and it was the same thing that’s happened to the Irish the last two times they played at Chester Willis. In three games now, the Green Wave has outscored St. Joe 17-1 in the first inning while winning all four meetings now by a combined score of 49-12.

The Irish held Cathedral scoreless in the first at the game in Greenville last season, but the Wave exploded for sixth runs in the top of the eighth to win that contest.

&uot;Nothing went wrong &045; they just hit the ball real well,&uot; St. Joe head coach Kenny Wolf said. &uot;They just crushed it. I didn’t have anything I could get on them about other than a few errors in the last inning. They crushed the ball, and we didn’t hit it as well.&uot;

It was the plan the Green Wave had going into the contest since it’s worked so well before. The Irish returned most of its squad from a season ago with just two starters lost, but the Green Wave, too, lost just three starters.

St. Joe starter Max Freeman lasted just 1/3 of an inning facing eight batters, and the Wave had a 5-0 lead at that point. Jones, Jeremy Davis and Charlie Lane each singled in a run before Preston Hicks slapped a single to drive in two.

Freeman wasn’t the guy Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley was expecting to see, and Freeman threw mainly fastballs before exiting for reliever Cayne Boykin.

&uot;That’s what we were hoping for &045; we scored seven runs in the first inning,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;The only thing I was disappointed in was we kind of died down after that. We scored some runs, but the bats weren’t hot like they were in the first inning. But he was having trouble controlling his offspeed pitches. He was able to throw his fastball, and we were able to sit on it.&uot;

And the Wave showed again it’s one of the better hitting fastballs teams around. After Freeman got yanked when he hit Drew Burns with a pitch to put runners at first and second, Boykin entered and walked Andrew Ellard to load the bases.

Boykin got Michael Blain on a strikeout before Jones slapped a single to score Hicks and Burns for the 7-0 lead.

&uot;I don’t know whether he was spotting well,&uot; Wolf said. &uot;They’re great fastball hitters. The only thing I know of &045; because I wasn’t sitting behind the plate &045; was he wasn’t spotting well. They’re just a great-hitting team.&uot;

The Wave tapered off a bit against Boykin but got the runs necessary to finish off the game two innings early. Wyler Murray put one over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, and in the third Blain and Davis had consecutive doubles before Murray singled in Davis for an 11-3 lead.

&uot;I think it was kind of a last-minute decision (to throw Freeman) on their part,&uot; Jones said. &uot;We just were ready to hit today, and we jumped on them quick that first inning. That was an outside fastball (I hit in the first). He couldn’t get his curveball over real well. We were taking the curveball, sitting on the fastball and driving it.&uot;

The Irish made some noise in the second and third innings off Cathedral ace Te Riley, who gave up five runs (three earned) while striking out just one and walking four. Jamie Montgomery had a two-run homer in the third, and Maddox put a triple in left center that scored Travis Webster and Jonathan Martin to cut it to 11-5.

Jones threw a scoreless fifth, and the Green Wave got four runs in the bottom half to end it. Hicks singled in Murray and Nick Anderson to end the game.

&uot;Te said he was tired today,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;He didn’t have much energy today. I don’t know if it was the sun or what. He’s pitched a lot for us the last two weeks. I was pleased to see Garrett come in and throw strikes. But that’s the thing about (St. Joe) &045; they’re not going to strike out. They make you play defense.&uot;