Sometimes, superstition plays as large part a part in the outcome of a baseball game as strategy.
At least, that’s what St. John Bosco High baseball Coach Ed Riley thinks after the Braves hammered Notre Dame High, 14-6, in Bellflower Tuesday.
The loss dropped Notre Dame (7-3) half a game behind St. John Bosco (7-2) in the Del Rey League. St. Francis, which was idle Tuesday, is 6-3, but plays host to the Braves Friday night.
Riley watched from his post in the first base coaching box as the Braves erased a five-run deficit with nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, then added five more an inning later to lift its overall record to 16-2.
But he began the game coaching from the third-base side of the diamond. He said he crossed the field in the fifth to “get things going.”
“Yeah, I do have a few unusual traits,” he said. “That comes with the game.”
Earlier in the week, Riley had complained that the Braves, who had not beaten the Knights since 1981, played their Sherman Oaks opponent each time as if they were “jinxed.”
Notre Dame Coach John Barrett had other ideas.
“They made this up to be their championship game,” he said of the St. John Bosco strategy. “There’s still a whole slew of games left to play.”
The Knights’ are 13-5 overall.
Still, the game began as Riley predicted. Braves pitcher Gene Lemmers walked the first three batters he faced, mixed in a wild pitch, then saw second baseman Jim Sterner misplay a potential double play ball hit by Jamie Stowits that scored a run.
Notre Dame added two more runs in the second on a hit and a pair of Brave errors. The Knights scored again in top of the fourth without a hit. Lemmers walked Maurice Delgado with one out and hit Eric Persson with a pitch. John Bonilla flied out to left field, then Sterner, who made a diving stop of a shot to the hole by Scott Hayward, threw the ball into the Braves’ dugout, allowing two runs to score.
Barrett caught Riley by surprise when he started his best pitcher, Persson, in center field. He chose to use Bonilla--and the left-hander responded with a two-hitter through 3 innnings before yielding to Persson with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the fourth inning. Persson struck out Lemmers to end the inning.
But Persson, who worked nine innings last week, couldn’t keep his curve ball down in the fifth and St. John Bosco collected five hits, including a pair of two-run home runs by Steve Balstad and Cary Windes. Windes’ blast, just inside the left-field foul pole with two out in the inning, was his sixth--a school record. It also chased Persson.
Notre Dame scored a run in the sixth and was threatening with runners on second and third and two out, but Braves left fielder Joe Parga ended the inning with a diving catch of a looping fly ball off the bat of Rex McMakin.
St. John Bosco added five runs in the sixth inning on four hits, a Knight error, and a fielder’s choice.
Lemmers (7-0) struck out 6 in 6 innings and used 100 pitches--28 in the first inning. Notre Dame managed just 4 hits.