McDonough tosses gem as Cathedral tops Brookhaven

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Of all the teams Cathedral mashed in five innings, one was never a pushover.

That was Brookhaven High, a club that KO’d the Green Wave in five innings last season en route to a Class 4A state championship. But the history between those two teams goes further than that, and the Panthers have been just as solid on the diamond as Cathedral in recent seasons.

Until Saturday night.

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The Green Wave got some key hits, a solid outing on the mound from Patrick McDonough and good offensive execution early for a 7-6 win in the final game of the Cellular South Classic. It snapped the skid to the Panthers and finally gave the team’s five seniors a taste of redemption.

&uot;We didn’t want to leave here with two or more losses in our own tournament,&uot; outfielder Preston Hicks said. &uot;We’ve tried to beat them and beat them. Every year we go out there, and we get beat by them every year. We’re both young teams this year, but it just fell our way tonight.&uot;

The game ended a full day of baseball at Chester Willis Field where both teams earlier posted wins over Natchez High (BHS 10-0, Cathedral 9-3) heading into the final game. The Panthers tied it up in the fifth at six before going down quietly in the final two innings and yielding a run by the Green Wave in the fifth.

McDonough, the sophomore left-hander, went the distance for the Green Wave.

&uot;We lost eight seniors last year &045; seven starters,&uot; Brookhaven head coach Randy Spring said. &uot;We’re still kind of feeling our way around, but Cathedral is in the same situation. I’m not going to use it as an excuse. Both of us are defending state champs. Both of us have good programs. They made the plays in the right situations and got it done.&uot;

The biggest surprise of the game had to be McDonough, who initially told coaches he was unsure if he could pitch because of a sore arm. He worked his way out of a jam in the third, gave up a big hit in the fifth but closed the door in the final two innings by not allowing a hit and walking just one.

The Panthers (2-3) had just four hits, and the Green Wave made some plays behind McDonough to things solid.

&uot;I can’t say enough about how good Patrick McDonough did on the mound,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;I asked him to go two innings, and he went a complete game. That’s the kind of thing we’ve been looking for &045; somebody to step up &045; and he did it tonight.

&uot;We didn’t throw a lot of curveballs, but we threw some in certain situations to certain batters. His fastball tails away, too. He had good control of his fastball tonight and was able to hit his spots.&uot;

The Green Wave got the winning run in the fifth inning when Andrew Ellard opened with an infield single, went to second on a wild pitch, went to third on a passed ball and scored when he beat the throw from center field on Drew Burns’ flyout.

McDonough retired the side in order in the sixth and was solid against the top of the Panthers’ lineup in the seventh by walking Grant McDonniel with two outs but getting cleanup hitter Garrion Crockett to ground out to short to end the game.

The left-hander finally retired the top of the lineup after the first four batters scored runs each of their previous three trips to the plate.

&uot;We had our chances to win,&uot; Spring said. &uot;Give their pitcher credit. He made pitches when he had to. Defense is what disappointed me. We’ve got a young team, but we’ve got to catch the ball better. We had our chances to get it done. They did a good job of executing.&uot;

The Green Wave struggled at the plate in the first two innings with four strikeouts &045; two looking &045; before putting together a big inning in the third with four runs thanks to three Brookhaven errors. The biggest play came when Beesley called for a squeeze with Zack Calhoun at the plate and Charlie Lane on third and Ellard on second.

Lane scored on the play with the Panthers going to first to get Calhoun, but they threw it away trying to get Ellard at third for him to score and give the Green Wave a 5-3 lead.

Ellard reached when he singled in Hicks and Jeremy Davis to tie it at 3-3.

&uot;We haven’t really gotten to look at a lot of curveballs in practice,&uot; Hicks said. &uot;This was a real good pitcher throwing curveballs. After a while we went up and finally waited on the curveball and got the hit. When they started making errors, we started hitting the ball. We got the hits when we needed them and got the runs in.&uot;