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The JSerra Catholic baseball team uses patience at the plate to excel
By Steve Breazeale
One of the more intriguing storylines heading into JSerra Catholic’s matchup against Great Oak in the quarterfinals of the Boras Classic baseball tournament on April 8 was the emergence of the Lions standout sophomore pitcher Jack Owen, who earned All-Trinity League honors and went 9-1 as a freshman.
However, by the time Owen, the starter, was slated to take the hill in the second after a brisk 13-pitch first inning, the Lions offense had already staked him to a seven-run lead.
There was no need for Owen to throw any more pitches, as the Lions used a patient approach at the plate to march to a convincing 10-1 victory. JSerra was set to play Alemany in the tournament semifinals on April 9. Results were not available at press time.
Every member of the Lions starting nine reached base against Great Oak and eight players recorded at least one hit in an offensive eruption that signaled their highest run output in three weeks.
JSerra (11-1) jumped on Great Oak starter Zeke Young early. Back to back RBI hits by junior Chase Strumpf and senior Jake Pries put the Lions up 2-0 in the first inning. In the second, the Lions sent nine batters to the plate, scored two runs on a Great Oak fielding error and scored three more times on a bases loaded triple by Pries to take a 7-0 lead.
“We swung the bat really well … I think their patience is really good. They’ve been grinding pitchers really good all year,” JSerra head coach Brett Kay said. “They’re patient and when they get their pitch they attack. It’s been good one through nine, it hasn’t been one guy.”
Strumpf went 2-2 with two RBIs and Pries, who was a home run shy of the cycle, went 3-4 with a double, triple and three RBIs.
The offense stole the show on April 8, but the Lions pitching rotation has been a constant all year long.
The Lions opened the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Granite Hills and have allowed seven runs over their last six games. Four of those games were in the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C., a tournament that fielded 16 of the best teams in the nation. The Lions went 3-1 over the three-day event.
Against Great Oak, pitchers Reid Connolly, Chase Brown, Colton Hector and Owen combined to hold the Wolfpack to four hits.
“Going back to (the NHSI) our pitching staff has been really, really good and I’m happy with that. Depth is important, especially going into league next week,” Kay said.
JSerra will open Trinity League play with a road game against Mater Dei on April 15. The Lions are the defending league champions.