GLENDALE — For the time being, the St. Monica Academy baseball team remains a work in progress.
With a combination of youth and a group of players having just arrived to the diamond following a historic playoff run with the boys’ basketball team, the Crusaders are still trying to figure things out during the first month of the season.
Those challenges showed during St. Monica’s 3-2 nonleague home defeat against Santa Clarita Christian on Monday at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields.
“You can say we are a work in progress, no doubt,” said St. Monica coach Phil Gleason, whose team won the Independence League’s Liberty Conference championship last season. “We’re really young and inexperienced in some areas and we have to get back on track.
“We’re going to lose some games, but we know we have a team that’s certainly capable of doing some good things. We just haven’t been on the field too much and we need to get in some practices so that we are more comfortable.”
The Crusaders (2-2), who qualified for the playoffs last season, committed three errors. Two came in the seventh inning and Santa Clarita Christian (1-3) took advantage by scoring two runs.
After St. Monica’s Beau Barry homered to right-center field to tie the game at 1 in the sixth, things promptly fell apart for the Crusaders.
Riley Peterson led off with a single and reached second on a 1-3 sacrifice by Tommy Gwinn. Garrett Huckabone singled to left to score Peterson and the ball went under the glove of the left fielder for an error to send Huckabone to second.
Drew McAlpine grounded to second for the second out, sending Huckabone to third. The St. Monica first baseman then threw the ball past the third baseman while trying to catch Huckabone off guard. Huckabone scored to make it 3-1.
St. Monica’s Nick Nieva scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 3-2 before Gwinn notched a strikeout to end it.
“We were pumped after the home run,” said Barry, who has hit three home runs. “We also knew that we needed to hold them down in the seventh to have a shot at winning and it just didn’t happen.
“We’re trying out a lot of things and we are a station-to-station team right now.”
Santa Clarita Christian, which finished second in the Heritage League last season, took a 1-0 lead in the first on a ground-out to shortstop by Ewan Leonard that scored Josh Sparks.
St. Monica starting pitcher John Short went four-plus innings. The right-hander struck out three and allowed two hits.
Sparks started for Santa Clarita Christian, going five innings, striking out three and yielding four hits.
Sparks escaped a jam in the second after giving up back-to-back singles to Charlie Boles and Nieva with no outs. The right-hander followed with a strikeout before picking off Boles at third. He then recorded a strikeout to end the threat.