Jesuit’s hot start to Catholic League play continued with a 3-2 victory against St. Augustine on Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field.
Chris Favalora doubled home the tie-breaking run in the bottom of the fourth, Zack Casebonne had an RBI-single and Brenden Berggren pitched a complete game to help the Blue Jays (14-5, 3-0) overcome an uncharacteristic five errors.
“We’re happy to get out of this with a victory,” Jesuit coach Kenny Goodlett said. “We’re relying on pitching and defense. Today didn’t really show the defensive end of that, but we stress pitching and defense, then do enough on offense to overcome.”
Berggren overcame two unearned runs in the top of the first to pitch six scoreless innings the rest of the way. He gave up three hits and two walks and struck out three.
“I just settled in after the first inning,” Berggren said. “I realized my defense is going to wake up now and they’re going to start making plays so I was just going to throw strikes and let them hit the ball.”
Berggren retired 10 straight after the Purple Knights’ runs scored. He worked around two errors and an infield hit in the fifth and two more errors in the sixth. After yielding a one-out single to Tannard Darensburg in the seventh, the Blue Jays defense ended it with a double play.
“Berggren does a nice job for us of letting us play defense,” Goodlett said. ‘Usually we do a pretty good job with that. Today we didn’t help him out as much as usual but we made enough plays.”
Jordan Vidato drew a walk from Berggren with one out in the first, Will Spears singled and Mims reached on an error as Vidato scored. Spears came home on the back end of a double steal.
“We definitely have speed,” St. Aug coach Al Robinson said. “We try to use it to our advantage. We try not to be overly aggressive but when we have opportunities we usually take them and hopefully that helps us in the long run in district.”
Will Moran’s two-out double started a two-run Blue Jays rally in the third that included a Knights error, a wild pitch and Casebonne’s RBI. In the fourth, Parker Serio’s one-out single preceded Favalora’s two-out, tie-breaking double.
“I just caught it in a good spot and I was hoping it would land in a good area and it did and allowed the run to score,” Favalora said. “Throughout the season I haven’t been hitting well, but coming into this game I knew they were a really good, fundamental team and I knew if I just hit balls well they would fall in. Luckily, it fell in at the right time.”
The Purple Knights (10-6), who were playing their District 9-5A opener, will host the Blue Jays at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wesley Barrow.
“We just didn’t hit the ball in the late innings like we should have,” Robinson said. “We left (six) runners on base. You can’t leave runners on base playing good teams like this.
“But, hey, we’ll go back and we’ll work on it. We’ve got to get back and work on some small things. If we do the small things I think we’ll be OK in district.”
Purple Knights starter Michael Mims pitched well in defeat, allowing six hits, one walk and just one earned run while striking out six before giving way to Ryan Stripling after reaching 110 pitches with one out in the sixth. Stripling issued a walk, then got a double play.
Jesuit started district play with a sweep against Brother Martin, prevailing 2-1 in eight innings at home and 14-1 in five innings at Kirsch-Rooney.
That second game appears to be an aberration.
“The Catholic League is pretty built on good pitching,” Robinson said.
“Everybody has a good ace, everybody has a good staff,” Goodlett said. “We have a quality league this year with a lot of parity and we expect good games every single time.”
Saturday’s game was tight and the Jesuit defense wasn’t pretty, but the Blue Jays remained an early pace-setter in the district.
“We’re striving to be district champs and that’s what we want,” Favalora said, “and we know that if we play our best we’ll get that.”