Defense and a little luck propel Cathedral to win

Published 12:17 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

NATCHEZ — It was one of those games that left you scratching your head wondering exactly how Cathedral came out on top.

The Green Wave stranded 13 base runners in just six innings, including leaving the bases loaded twice, and starting pitcher Preston Edwards walked seven batters, including four in a single inning.

But some solid defense and a little bit of luck helped Cathedral offset their lack of clutch hitting and wildness from their pitcher and take a 6-5 win over Stringer in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 1A South State semifinals.

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“When we stranded eight runners in the first three innings, I was afraid that would come back to haunt us,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said. “The key was how well we played defensively. We turned two double plays and had a great play at third base by Dylan White that saved two runs.”

Cathedral, which has come back from deficits throughout the playoffs, looked as if it might have run out of comebacks after Edwards walked four batters in the top of the sixth inning to give Stringer a 4-3 lead.

But Jesse Morrison led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple and scored to tie the game on a bloop single by Edwards.

Cathedral (22-5) proceeded to load the bases with nobody out thanks to a throwing error and a walk, but the opportunity looked like it would be wasted again as Stringer pitcher Andrew Pierce induced Hunter Foster to pop out to the catcher and struck out Daniel Jenkins.

Then a little bit of luck shined down on the Wave.

Kole Junkin swung at a ball low and away for strike three, but the ball got away from catcher Cole Walters, allowing Junkin to reach third base and Edwards to score the go-ahead run.

A frustrated Pierce then walked the next batter Blase Bradford to force in another run before retiring Braxton Fondren to end the inning.

Stringer (16-7) scored one run in the top of the seventh on a two-out single by Walters, but Edwards struck out the side to finish the game.

“All day long we left runners on base and couldn’t score,” Beesley said. “Then we score the winning run on a third strike passed ball. The game of baseball is funny sometimes.”

While the game can be funny, the Green Wave’s defense was no joke.

Cathedral committed only one error in the game as opposed to Stringer’s three and White saved two runs in the top of the sixth when he made a diving stop and good throw to second for the third out with the bases loaded.

“Dylan’s play at third base was a huge play for us,” Beesley said. “If he doesn’t stop that, two more runs would have scored and who knows what would have happened.”

Cathedral also took advantage of Stringer miscues. One run scored on an error and another on the wild pitch.

Game 2 of the series will be at 3 p.m. today at Stringer. An if-necessary Game 3 would be at 6 p.m. Monday at Chester Willis Field in Natchez.