A couple of unfortunate things took place Friday for the St. Monica Academy baseball team.
Making its fifth consecutive postseason appearance, St. Monica had the task of facing St. Bernard in a CIF Southern Section Division VI first-round contest.
In the span of a couple of innings, St. Monica lost its starting pitcher to an apparent arm injury and the Crusaders committed five errors.
It added up to a frustrating afternoon for St. Monica, which suffered a 7-4 loss at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields after St. Bernard scored five sixth-inning runs to rally past the Crusaders.
“Things are going good for our guys early on and then those things happened with the injury and some fielding errors,” said St. Monica Coach Phil Gleason, whose team finished 11-4 and won the Liberty League’s International Conference championship. “We had the lead and we couldn’t put them away.
“We had some chances throughout the game and we just fell short in the end.”
The Crusaders had the winning run at the plate in the seventh with one out, but the last two batters struck out against reliever Ryan Gervais.
St. Monica starting pitcher Riley Gosnell went to the mound to start the fourth with St. Monica holding a 2-0 lead. On Gosnell’s second warm-up pitch to catcher Jack Golbranson, the right-hander fell to the mound in pain. Gosnell, who allowed one hit and struck out three, was checked out by a trainer before Gleason chose to remove him in place of Golbranson.
“It’s really too bad,” Gleason said. “He was pitching such a great game and then it’s hard to see him go down like that.”
St. Monica got a run-scoring double from Golbranson to make it 1-0 and Nicholas Nieva extended the lead to 2-0 on a bunt single.
Following Gosnell’s departure, St. Bernard (13-12-1) cut the lead to 2-1 on a throwing error by the pitcher while trying to nab Michael Gonzalez stealing third base.
Nieva scored on a wild pitch by St. Bernard starter Myles Rothfarb in the fourth to make it 3-1.
Things came apart for the Crusaders in the sixth, when the Vikings, who took second in the Santa Fe League, scored five runs to take a 6-3 lead.
Julian Galvin recorded a two-run single with the bases loaded to tie it at 3. Reliever Beau Barry then replaced Golbranson a batter later with the bases loaded and no outs. Barry got two quick out before Brandon Chatman blooped a two-run single to shallow right to give the Vikings a 5-3 lead.
St. Bernard capped the scoring in the inning when Gervais was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“That was a very tough inning,” Gleason said. “We made a couple of errors that led to them getting going.”
Each team scored a run in the seventh.
St. Bernard padded the lead to 7-3 on a run-scoring single by Khalia Black. St. Monica wrapped up the scoring on a RBI single by Mark Golbranson.
“We’ve been fighting all year,” St. Bernard Coach Marvin Horn said. “I thought we were able to stay patient at the plate the last couple of innings and we got a great starting effort from Myles.
“We really didn’t know much about St. Monica, but they play small ball well and they executed it perfectly on one of their runs.”
Rothfarb went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out six.
“We had a good season,” Jack Golbranson said. “We went down fighting in the end.”