Michael Curtis led the way as John Curtis Christian cooled off Jesuit.
He allowed just one unearned run in 5.1 innings and jump-started the Patriots’ offense as they handed the Blue Jays their first District 9-5A loss, 2-1 Monday afternoon at John Ryan Stadium.
Gareth LeBlanc singled home the tie-breaking run in the fifth and Dax Ford finished with a scoreless 1.2 innings, striking out the side in the seventh and leaving the bases loaded after the final strikeout.
“I just threw strikes,” said Curtis (4-2), who had six strikeouts and no walks. “I just stayed low in the zone and pumped strikes.”
Jesuit (19-7) fell to 6-1 in district play and perhaps more importantly lost starter Will Moran (3-4), who’s also the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter, to an injury to the (non-throwing) shoulder/collarbone area on a collision during Curtis’ winning rally.
Jesuit coach Kenny Goodlett said Moran was to undergo X-rays Monday night and the Blue Jays’ staff will be taxed regardless of the results as they visit Shaw on Tuesday in a stretch of five games in eight days that began with a 6-0 win against Shaw last Saturday and concludes with games against second-place Holy Cross on Thursday and Saturday.
“We’ll figure it out tonight,” Goodlett said. “We have confidence in our staff. We’ll go back to some guys we haven’t in a while, but they can handle it.”
Curtis and Ford limited the Blue Jays to three hits.
“Curtis and Ford both did a fine job,” Goodlett said. “We just didn’t barrel up enough balls today. We’ve got to get guys into scoring position earlier. When we did get some runners we couldn’t get the timely hit.”
The Patriots (10-12 overall, 5-4 in district), who visit Shaw on Thursday, didn’t have a hit against Will Hellmers or Moran in a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays a week earlier, but that changed quickly in the rematch. With one out in the first Curtis tripled to right and Ford followed with an RBI-single.
“I looked at our schedule and (four of our last five) losses were by one run,” Patriots coach Jeff Curtis said. “I told the guys that we’re right there. We just had to keep working and positive things would happen. Nobody has been moping or complaining. They’ve just kept working.”
Jesuit tied the score in the fourth when Brian Valigosky forced Hellmers, who had led off with a single, at second and came around on a wild pitch, a stolen base and a throwing error.
Coach Curtis rearranged his batting order and one of the changes was to move freshman designated hitter Richard Woodruff up from the seventh spot to the sixth. Woodruff led off the sixth with a double against Moran.
Joel Taylor bunted up the third-base line and Moran slipped to the ground trying to field the ball while third baseman Tripp Haddad charged. When Moran got up the two collided, pinch runner Josh Dudenhaufer reached third and Taylor was safe at first.
Moran returned to the mound but felt discomfort in the shoulder area and left the game after being examined by the Blue Jays trainer. He left the ballpark with ice on his shoulder, which was protected in a sling.
Brennen Berggren relieved and got the first out before allowing LeBlanc’s RBI-single.
Michael Curtis got the first out in the sixth before Ford relieved and got the next two batters.
After hitting Valigosky leading off the seventh, Ford striking out the next two batters before giving up two walks. He struck out Luke Eccles swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
In the post-game huddle, coach Curtis was serenaded with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” as he turned 43 on Monday.
The game was postponed from Friday because of rain and started 40 minutes late because the umpires didn’t arrive on time.
But when they did arrive, Michael Curtis and his Patriots teammates were ready.